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Movie Mom


Great Movie Elephants and Donkeys

posted by Nell Minow

In honor of the upcoming election, a bi-partisan listing of classic movies featuring those two symbols of the political parties, the elephant and the donkey, with a tip of the hat to cartoonist Thomas Nast, who first assigned those animals to the Republicans and the Democrats.

1. Dumbo You’ll believe an elephant can fly in this charming animated Disney classic about the little elephant with big ears (NOTE: some ethnic humor that is insensitive by today’s standards)

2. The Adventures of Francis the Talking Mule WWII-era favorite Francis was an army mule who starred in seven popular comedies.

3. Billy Rose’s Jumbo Jimmy Durante, Doris Day, and Jumbo the elephant star in this circus story.

4. Shrek Eddie Murphy provides the voice for the talkative but loyal sidekick to the lovable ogre.

5. Fantasia Elephant ballerinas appear in one of the segments of this animated classic.

6. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh The anxious Eeyore the donkey is one of the most beloved characters in this movie based on the classic books by A.A. Milne.

7. Horton Hears a Who Tender-hearted Horton the Elephant (voice of Jim Carrey) saves the tiny speck of dust that is the home of the adorable residents of Whoville.

8. Au Hasard Balthazar This lyrical allegory is the story of a donkey-saint.

9. Hatari! Henry Mancini’s famous “Baby Elephant Walk” is one of the highlights of this genial John Wayne adventure-comedy set in Africa.

10. Pinocchio Pinocchio and Lampwick find themselves turning into donkeys when they neglect their responsibilities and families in this Disney animated classic.



  • jestrfyl

    I have one other to add to the list, “Small One” a Disney short film for Christmas. This film was in many ways a test for the group that was to produce the feature “The Black Cauldron”. What they learned was that Don Bluth was not suited to the Disney constraints. Much of the “B.C.” work went to Ireland and Bluth created his own studio. For a very brief moment I was considering joining the animation team that would work on “Small One”. Life did not turn out to favor that choice, so other paths were followed and career choices made. Nonetheless, I do like “Small One”, and show it to children around Christmas. And I also think about roads not taken.

  • Nell Minow

    I’m so glad you mentioned that very sweet film. And I am very glad to hear of your connection to the world of animation as those films are very dear to me.

  • ShelleyP

    You missed Babar the Elephant, a very popular French children’s fictional character who first appeared in 1931. It told of a young elephant who leaves the jungle, visits a big city, and returns to bring the benefits of civilization to his fellow elephants.
    An animated TV series was produced by Nelvana Limited 1989-1991, translated into English. I can remember watching many episodes of this series.

  • Nell Minow

    Thank you, Shelley! I love Barbar and very much enjoyed reading an essay about the Barbar books by Adam Gopnik in a recent issue of the New Yorker. Thanks for this addition!

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