|Directed by|| Ben Sharpsteen
|Produced by||Walt Disney|
|Written by|| Aurelius Battaglia
Ted Sears Webb Smith
|Starring|| Dickie Jones
|Music by|| Leigh Harline
Paul J. Smith
|Distributors|| RKO Radio Pictures
Buena Vista Distribution
|Release date (s)|| February 7, 1940
|Preceded by|| Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
|Followed by|| Fantasia
Though Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is generally considered to be Walt Disney's most significant contribution to cinema, Pinocchio is considered his greatest achievement and representative of the Disney studio at the peak of its golden age, as well as one of the greatest achievements in animation. Many people list it as their favorite Disney movie because they had many memories watching the movie. Many people consider Pinocchio to be one of the most critically acclaimed of all the Disney animated features and one of the greatest animated films of all time. On its first release, Disney only recouped about half of its $2.6 million budget in 1940.
The plan for the original film was considerably different from what was released. Numerous characters and plot points, many of which came from the original novel, were used in early drafts. Walt Disney was displeased with the work that was being done and called a halt to the project midway into production so that the concept could be rethought and the characters redesigned. It was at this stage that the character of the cricket was expanded. Jiminy Cricket, voiced by Cliff Edwards, became central to the story.
The song "When You Wish Upon a Star," became a major hit and is still identified with the film, and later as a fanfare for Walt Disney Studios itself. Pinocchio also won the Academy Award for Best Song and the Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture. The film has been deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and in 1994 was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, and in the second slot, behind only Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in the American Film Institute’s Top ten Animated Feature Films of all time in 2008. The film is constantly considered the greatest film in the animation medium, despite the inital failure.
After singing the film's signature song "When You Wish Upon a Star", Jiminy Cricket explains that he is going to tell a story of a wish coming true. His story begins in the Tuscany workshop of a woodworker named Geppetto. Jiminy watches as Geppetto finishes work on a wooden marionette whom he names Pinocchio (a name his cat Figaro and fish Cleo both dislike). Before falling asleep, Geppetto makes a wish on a star that Pinocchio would be a real boy. During the night, a Blue Fairy visits the workshop and brings Pinocchio to life, although he still remains a puppet. She informs him that if he proves himself brave, truthful, and unselfish he will become a real boy and assigns Jiminy to be his conscience.
Geppetto discovers that his wish has come true and is filled with joy. However, on his way to school, Pinocchio is led astray by Honest John the Fox and his companion, Gideon the Cat, who convince him to join Stromboli's puppet show, despite Jiminy's objections. Pinocchio becomes Stromboli's star attraction as a marionette who can sing and dance without strings while performing with marionettes of Dutch girls, French can-can girls, and Russian Cossacks. However, when Pinocchio wants to go home for the night, Stromboli locks him up in a birdcage. Jiminy arrives to see Pinocchio and is unable to free him. The Blue Fairy then appears and asks Pinocchio why he wasn’t at school. Jiminy urges Pinocchio to tell the truth, but instead he starts telling lies, which causes his nose to grow longer and longer. Pinocchio vows to be good from now on and the Blue Fairy restores his nose back to its original form and sets them free, while warning him that this will be the last time she can help him.
Meanwhile, across town, Honest John and Gideon meet a coachman who promises to pay them big money if they can find foolish little boys for him to take to Pleasure Island. Encountering Pinocchio on his way home, they convince him that he needs to take a vacation there. Once at Pleasure Island, he befriends Lampwick, a delinquent boy. With no rules or authority to enforce their activity, Pinocchio and the other boys soon enjoy gambling, smoking, getting drunk, and vandalizing, much to Jiminy's dismay. Later, while trying to get home, Jiminy discovers that the island hides a horrible curse: The boys brought to the island by the Coachman all foolishly made jackasses of themselves by becoming real donkeys to work in salt mines and circuses in despair. Jiminy runs back to warn Pinocchio, only to find that Lampwick fully transformed into a terrified donkey, but Pinocchio manages to escape with only a donkey's ears and tail.
Upon returning home, Pinocchio and Jiminy find the workshop empty and discover (through a message left by the Blue Fairy) that Geppetto had ventured out to search for Pinocchio, but was swallowed by a giant whale named Monstro and is now living in his belly. Determined to rescue his father, Pinocchio jumps into the sea, with Jiminy accompanying him. Pinocchio is soon also swallowed by Monstro, where he is reunited with Geppetto. Pinocchio devises a plan to make Monstro sneeze, giving them a chance to escape. The plan works, but the enraged whale chases them and smashes their raft. Pinocchio pulls Geppetto to safety in a cave before Monstro crashes into it. They are all washed up on a beach on the other side. Geppetto, Figaro, Cleo, and Jiminy survive, but Pinocchio lies motionless face down in a tide pool. Back home, the group mourns for him. The Blue Fairy, however, decides that Pinocchio has proven himself brave, truthful, and unselfish, and he is reborn as a real human boy and everyone celebrates. Jiminy steps outside to thank the Fairy and is rewarded by a solid gold badge that certifies him as an official conscience.
- Dickie Jones as Pinocchio, a happy wooden puppet carved by Geppetto and turned into a living puppet by the Blue Fairy. Jones also voices Alexander, one of the boys who transformed into a donkey on Pleasure Island. Alexander can still talk and is hurled into a special holding pen for suchlike donkeys. Pinocchio was animated by Milt Kahl, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston whilst Alexander was animated by Eric Larson.
- Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket, a cheerful cricket who acts as Pinocchio's "conscience" and the partial narrator of the story. Jiminy Cricket was animated by Ward Kimball.
- Christian Rub as Mister Geppetto, a woodcarver who creates Pinocchio and wishes for him to become a real boy. He was animated by Art Babbitt.
- Figaro and Cleo, Geppetto's tuxedo cat and goldfish, respectively, who do not like each other very much until the end of the film when Pinocchio becomes a real boy. They were animated by Eric Larson. Mel Blanc offers a brief voice act for Figaro, during the scene where Figaro sneezes.
- John Worthington Foulfellow (Walter Catlett), also known as Honest John, is a sly anthropomorphic red fox and known criminal who tricks Pinocchio twice in the film. He was animated by Norm Furgeson.
- Gideon, Honest John's mute and crafty anthropomorphic feline accomplice. He was originally intended to be voiced by Mel Blanc of Looney Tunes fame (in his only work for Disney until Who Framed Roger Rabbit), but the filmmakers deleted his dialogue in favor of a mute performance (e.g. Harpo Marx) just like Dopey of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. However, Gideon's hiccups were provided by Blanc. Gideon was animated by Norm Ferguson.
- Charles Judels as Stromboli, a large, sinister, bearded puppet maker who forces Pinocchio to perform onstage in order to make money. He speaks in an Italian accent, though he is identified as a gypsy. He is the only villain of the film to be part of the official Disney Villains line-up. Judels also voices the devious and sadistic Coachman, owner and operator of Pleasure Island, who enjoys turning unruly boys into donkeys. He speaks in a Cockney accent. Stromboli was animated by Bill Tytla whist the Coachman was animated by Charles August Nichols.
- Evelyn Venable as Blue Fairy, who brings Pinocchio to life and turns him into a real boy at the end. She was animated by Jack Campbell.
- Frankie Darro as Lampwick, a naughty boy Pinocchio befriends on his way to Pleasure Island, who is turned into a donkey on Pleasure Island. He was animated by Fred Moore.
- Thurl Ravenscroft as Monstro, the sperm whale that swallows Geppetto, Figaro, and Cleo during their search for Pinocchio. Pinocchio is later swallowed when Monstro is eating and he and Geppetto reunite. Monstro's whale sounds were provided by Thurl Ravenscroft, and he was animated by Wolfgang Reitherman.