Sleeping Beauty was the 16th feature-length, animated film for Walt Disney, and it took nearly a decade to make. Planning for the film began in 1951 following the success of Disney’s Cinderella, but changes in story development, art direction, and animation slowed the studio’s plans.
Much of the criticism of the film came from its similarities to Disney’s first animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Families still enjoy the film and now you can watch Sleeping Beauty online. The movie was the first animated film to be shot in Super Technirama 70 Widescreen and was Disney’s second attempt at filming in anamorphic widescreen. Despite the attention to detail for the artwork, and the filming processes, reaction to Sleeping Beauty was lukewarm.
It would be Disney’s last fairy tale adaptation for 30 years but now you can see Sleeping Beauty streaming. Sleeping Beauty would not re-release to theatres until after Walt Disney’s death but it has gained momentum over the years and has now grossed just over $51 million. Here’s how to stream Sleeping Beauty right now:
How to Stream Sleeping Beauty – Exclusively on Disney+
Sleeping Beauty is one of the fan-favorite Disney original movies that will be streaming exclusively on Disney’s new subscription streaming service, Disney+.
You can sign up for a 7-day free trial of Disney+ HERE, which will allow you to stream Sleeping Beauty and hundreds of other movies and shows on your computer, phone, tablet, smart TV or streaming device. If you extend past the free trial, the service costs $6.99/month. You may also opt for this discount bundle of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99/month.
- 1. Sign up for Disney+ here
- 2. Go to Disneyplus.com or download the Disney+ app on your device
- 3. Log in using your information
- 4. Search for “Sleeping Beauty”
- 5. Tap on “Sleeping Beauty”
- 6. Tap the PLAY button
Disney+ also boasts a vast library of Disney-owned movies and series — plus several new original series coming soon. The service includes unlimited downloads so you can watch offline whenever and wherever you want. The list of compatible devices and smart TVs includes iPads, Apple TV, Amazon devices, Amazon Fire TV, Android, Chromecast, Roku, PS4, and Xbox One.
Sleeping Beauty: Overview
Release Date: January 29, 1959
Creators: Charles Perrault, Walt Disney, Erdman Penner, Milt Banta, Winston Hibler and Bill Peet
Director: Clyde Geronimi, Eric Larson, Wolfgang Reitherman, Les Clark
Starring: Mary Costa, Bill Shirley, Barbara Luddy, Eleanor Audley, Marvin Miller
After being cursed by an evil fairy, a princess is sent to live in hiding with three good fairies. On her sixteenth birthday, the evil fairy tricks her, sending her into a deep sleep which can only be cured with loves first kiss.
How Long Is Sleeping Beauty?
Sleeping Beauty has a running time of 75 minutes.
Sleeping Beauty Plot
After years of trying to have a child, King Stefan and Queen Leah have a baby girl they name Aurora. Princess Aurora is betrothed to Prince Phillip to unite the kingdoms of King Stefan and King Hubert, Prince Phillip’s father. At her christening, the evil fairy Maleficent curses Princess Aurora, stating that on her sixteenth birthday she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die. The fairies Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, who are also at the christening of the princess, are able to lessen the power of the curse so that Aurora will only go into a deep sleep. The King and Queen send Aurora to live in hiding with the good fairies who rename her Briar Rose. The princess grows up to be a beautiful, kind-hearted soul who loves the animals of the forest. One day she is singing in the forest when Prince Phillip happens by and the two fall in love, but in another part of the forest the good fairies are arguing about the gown Aurora will wear, and this allows Maleficent to find her. At the castle, where a birthday celebration has been prepared, Maleficent lures Aurora to a tower where there is a spinning wheel. She pricks her finger and falls into a deep sleep. The kings realize that the peasant girl Phillip tells them he loves is Aurora but Maleficent turns into a dragon to keep him from the princess. Phillip defeats Maleficent, kisses Aurora who wakes from her sleep and breaking the spell. Aurora is reunited with her parents and she and Phillip live happily ever after.
Sleeping Beauty Cast
Widely panned for being too similar to previous Disney princess films, the casting was praised by critics and fans alike. Critics enjoyed the singing from cast members Mary Cost as well as the villainous portrayal of Maleficent. These are leading actors for Sleeping Beauty.
Mary Costa as Princess Aurora
Princess Aurora is a beautiful and innocent princess sent to live in hiding from the evil fairy who wants to kill her. Mary Costa was an actress and singer best known for her performances in Sleeping Beauty, The Great Waltz, and The Merry Widow. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in The Great Waltz, and for a Grammy for Best Soundtrack for Sleeping Beauty.
Bill Shirley as Prince Phillip
Prince Phillip is brave and strong, and after falling in love with Aurora he fights Maleficent’s dragon to save her life. Billy Shirley was a well-known actor when he took on the role of Prince Phillip for Sleeping Beauty. He had also appeared in I Dream of Jeannie, Flying Tigers, and Oh, You Beautiful Doll. He was nominated for a Grammy, along with Mary Costa, for his work on the Sleeping Beauty soundtrack.
Eleanor Audley as Maleficent
Maleficent is the evil fairy who curses Aurora and tried to kill Prince Phillip when he rushes to save her. Eleanor Audley was the only actor for Sleeping Beauty to provide both voice and movement for her character. She is best known for her voice work on the Disney films Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, but also appeared in the TV series My Three Sons, Green Acres, and The Beverly Hillbillies.
Taylor Holmes as King Stefan
King Stefan is Princess Aurora’s father, who sends her to live with the good fairies in the hopes that she will be saved. Noted character actor Taylor Holmes provided the voice for King Stefan. In addition to Sleeping Beauty, he is known for his work in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Dragnet, and The Red Skelton Hour. Sleeping Beauty would be his final acting role. The performance model for King Stefan was Hans Conried.
Verna Felton as Flora and Queen Leah
Flora is one of the good fairies, tasked by King Stephan and Queen Leah to save Princess Aurora. Queen Leah is King Stephan’s wife and Aurora’s mother. The performance models for the fairies were drawn from actresses Frances Bavier, Madge Blake, and Spring Byington. The performance model for Queen Leah was Jane Fowler. Verna Felton was an experienced stage and radio actress before moving to film. She would provide voices for several films including Lady and the Tramp, Alice in Wonderland, and Cinderella as well as for Sleeping Beauty. Felton is a two-time Emmy nominee, for her work in December Bride, and was awarded a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 1960.
Barbara Jo Allen as Fauna
Fauna was one of the good fairies who sheltered Aurora as she grew up. The performance models for the fairies were drawn from actresses Frances Bavier, Madge Blake, and Spring Byington. Barbara Jo Allen was a well-known comedienne and writer who is best known for her comedic performances in Cowboy Canteen, Square Dance Katy, and Sleeping Beauty. She would appear in 70 films and television series over the course of her career, and was awarded a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 1960 for her work in both film and in radio.
Barbara Luddy as Merryweather
Merryweather was the third good fairy tasked with saving Princess Aurora; it was her charm at the christening that helped to weaken Maleficent’s spell so that Aurora would fall into a sleep instead of dying. The performance models for the fairies were drawn from actresses Frances Bavier, Madge Blake, and Spring Byington. Barbara Luddy was an accomplished voice actress who appeared in many Disney films and other animated films and series. She is best known for her work in Sleeping Beauty, the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Lady and the Tramp. She would appear in more than 40 movies or television series over her career and would provide the voice of Lady in Lady and the Tramp.
Sleeping Beauty Songs and Soundtrack
The music for Sleeping Beauty was based on Peter Tchaikovsky’s original Sleeping Beauty Ballet, despite the fact that Disney had hired Jack Lawrence and Sammy Fain to create the music for the film in 1952. The only original Lawrence and Fain song to be kept for the movie was Aurora’s song Once Upon A dream. The musical score would be recorded in Germany because of the musician’s strike in Hollywood, it was completed November 25, 1958, just two months before the box office release of the film.
Sleeping Beauty at the Box Office
The movie cost the studio $6 million to make and recouped only about $5 million at the box office. The studio would see its first annual loss the year of Sleeping Beauty’s release, pushing them to layoff many animators.
Sleeping Beauty Reviews – What the Critics Said
Although Sleeping Beauty was the first animated feature to be shot in Super Technirama 70 Widescreen, cutting edge technology at the time, the film was not well-received by critics. Many said the movie was too similar to Disney’s former successes Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella. The bright spots, for reviewers, were the singing from actors Mary Costa and Bill Shirley and the portrayal of the good fairies. Today, the film has a 90% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Where Sleeping Beauty Fits in the Disney Movie Pantheon
Although Sleeping Beauty is a fan favorite with little girls, it was the last Disney attempt at a fairy tale retelling until 1989 and was widely panned by critics. Still, there are bright spots in the film, including the cutting edge use of Super Technirama in the shooting. The film would win be nominated for one Academy Award, for Best Scoring of a Motion Picture, and the villain Maleficent was nominated to AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains list. Disney would breathe new life into the family favorite in 2014 with the release of the live-action movie Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie as the evil fairy.
Sleeping Beauty Trailer
Sleeping Beauty Trivia: 5 Fast Facts
Sleeping Beauty would be the last Disney film based on a fairy tale to be made for 30 years, and would not see any re-releases until after the death of Walt Disney. Still, it has become a fan favorite. Here are five fast facts about the film’s production:
1. Maleficent loses to Evil Queen
Maleficent is a two-time loser. Her dragon form lost to Prince Phillip, allowing him to save Princess Aurora. Then, the evil fairy lost to Snow White’s Evil Queen for a slot on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains list.
2. Disney Names First Prince
For the first time in a Disney fairy tale, the prince had a name. The prince is Sleeping Beauty was named Prince Phillip, after the prince most Americans knew of Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth of England. Both the princes in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella, which pre-dated Sleeping Beauty, were never named.
3. Maleficent Modeled After Actress
For the first time, Disney would use not only voice actors for an animated feature but would use performance models to ensure the cartoon characters’ movements were realistic. Only one of the voice actors would also be a performance model, though. That was Eleanor Audley, who not only voiced Maleficent but also acted as the performance model for the animated character.
4. Disney Takes on Tchaikovsky
Although the studio would hire musicians to create original scores for the film, they would actually base much of the music on Peter Tchaikovsky’s original Sleeping Beauty Ballet. Only one original song, Once Upon a Dream, would be used from the original musicians’ creations.
5. George Bruns Nominated for Oscar
Though not a favorite at the time of release, Sleeping Beauty would be nominated for an Academy Award in 1959 for Best Music, Scoring. George Bruns, who worked on many Disney films including Robin Hood and The Sword and the Stone, was nominated for his work in adapting music from Tchaikovsky’s ballet to the film.
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