Filmsite Movie Review
Pinocchio (1940)
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Plot Synopsis (continued)

The Coachman's Proposition

The next scene is inside the Red Lobster Inn, where the villainous and crafty Honest John is singing his trademark song - a foreshadowing of more evil temptations. He is drinking beer and smoking a cigar at a table in a bar with a thoroughly-soused Gideon and a white-haired obese and ruthless Coachman (aka Barker) - a ferryman wearing a long red coat with big brass buttons, yellowish green eyes, and black boots. He intently listens, puffing on his pipe, as Honest John recounts his lastest scam - how he cleverly sold living puppet Pinocchio ("and the dummy fell for it") to Stromboli for "plenty" of gold coins in a bag. He brags and flaunts his monetary success: "That shows how low Honest John will stoop."

He then asks about the Coachman's business proposition, when the fat-faced man pulls out a huge bag of money: "How would you blokes like to make some real money?" Honest John thinks he is proposing to slit someone's throat (he gestures), but the offer is easier than that. The Coachman looks around, suspiciously so as not to be overhead, before proposing to his two nefarious and sly co-conspirators, who nod knowingly, that he sadistically deals in abducted and enslaved young boys:

I'm collecting stupid little boys...You know, the disobedient ones what play hookey from school...(He whispers) And I takes 'em to Pleasure Island.

Foulfellow does an extreme double-take at the mention of Pleasure Island, fearing the evil place that is beyond the reach of the law: "But the law - suppose they -?" The Coachman reassures the cowering Honest John with Gideon fearfully huddled in his arms: "No, no. There is no risk. They never come back - as boys!" His teeth expand and gleam as he grins and gives a gleeful, wicked laugh. The unscrupulous dealer trafficking in naughty boys instructs the two crooks (partners-in-crime) to apprehend some boys and meet him at his stagecoach at a crossroads for a handsome payment:

Now, I've got a coach load leaving at midnight. We'll meet at the crossroads, and no double-crossing...Scout around. Any good prospects you find, bring 'em to me...I'll pay you well. I got plenty of gold.

Honest John Waylays Pinocchio Again

As Pinocchio marches home in a race with Jiminy, he is adamantly determined to reform himself: "Nothing can stop me now. I'll make good this time." He vows to go to school and acquire knowledge: "I'd rather be smart than be an actor." Honest John's cane snags Pinocchio's britches from behind - as he asks: "What's your rush?" Pinocchio describes his experience as a puppet actor to the falsely-incredulous Foulfellow: "Stromboli was terrible...He locked me in a birdcage...but I learned my lesson." Foulfellow persuasively convinces Pinocchio that he may be sick by posing as a doctor: "You must be a nervous wreck" and offers a complex diagnosis after a cursory exam - while Gideon takes scribbly notes on a notepad:

A slight touch of monetary complications, with bucolic semi-lunar contraptions of the flying trapezes...I knew it. Compound transmission of the pandemonium with percussion and spasmodic, frantic disintegration!...(He listens to Pinocchio's heart) A palpitating syncopation of the killer diller with a wicky-wacky stomping of the floy joy!

It is "perfectly clear" that Pinocchio's ailment is that he is "allergic" - and "there is only one cure - a vacation on Pleasure Island...Yes, that happy land of carefree boys where every day is a holiday." When Pinocchio declines the trick and desires to return home, Foulfellow presents his own ticket - an Ace of Spades playing card. [Note: In popular folk mythology, the Ace of Spades, or spadille, the highest card in the deck, represents "the death card." It has also been featured in movies, such as Apocalypse Now (1979).] He insists: "Your health comes first." They divert the living puppet from returning home, by taking him to the Coachman's coach departing at midnight:

Hi Diddle Dee Dee, it's Pleasure Isle for me!
Where every day is a holiday,
And kids have nothing to do but play

Again, Jiminy Cricket watches as Pinocchio is led away, out of town by the two rascals, and he follows them.

On to Pleasure Island

In the next scene, the Coachman is seated atop a stagecoach brimming and bursting with excited boys - chosen (or captured) for their truancy and bad behavior presumably. Jiminy hitches a lurching ride underneath, coughing from the dust, and commiserating: "Here we go again." In the front driver's seat next to the stocky Coachman are Pinocchio and Lampwick, a tall and slender, rough-looking, older red-haired boy with a sling-shot. The Coachman chastises the six donkeys pulling the coach by cracking them with his long whip. Buck-toothed Lampwick strikes up a conversation with Pinocchio (who he ignores), revealing that he is a loafing street urchin-type who enjoys rebelling against authority, vandalizing, and drinking:

Ever been to Pleasure Island?...Me neither, but they say it's a swell joint. No school, no cops. You can tear the joint apart and nobody says a word...Loaf around, plenty to eat, plenty to drink. And it's all free...Boy, that's the place. I can hardly wait.

At the dock, the stagecoach unloads its cargo for a short steamboat ride to Pleasure Island under a moonlit sky. The boat is greeted at the island by a gigantic wall of surrounding rock. Cheering boys run up the wooden, chained drawbridge into the large gated fortress of the island, into Pleasure Island's earthly and profane pleasures. Sounds of the carnival are heard as the naughty boys scrambled out of the steamboat - free to run wild without supervision, without rules, and without authoritarian reprimands by adults. Pushing and shoving, they pass the leering and exploitative Coachman (rubbing his greedy hands together) on their way to the amusement rides, a dark version of Disneyland, where a barker calls out for free, instant gratification and the satisfaction of one's lowest impulses:

Get your cake, pie, dill pickles, and ice cream. Eat all you can. Be a glutton. Stuff yourselves. It's all free, boys. It's all free. Hurry, hurry, hurry.

In the Rough House, boys are seen beating up each other - in silhouette ("It's the roughest, toughest joint ya ever seen"). Lampwick is gnawing into an entire chicken, while Pinocchio next to him is carrying an ice cream cone and a hot apple pie. Lampwick recommends that they join in the scrap: "Let's go in and poke somebody in the nose...Just for the fun of it." He litters by tossing away his chicken and struts into the Rough House to pick a fight, influentially urging an impressionable Pinocchio to follow right behind him. In another smoky attraction named Tobacco Road, a second barker encourages the boys:

Get your cigars, cigarettes, and chewin' tobacco. Come in and smoke your heads off. There's nobody here to stop you.

Fearing for Pinocchio's safety, Jiminy realizes there's "something phony" about Pleasure Island, but cannot locate Pinocchio amidst the crowds that are threatening to stomp on him. A third attraction is labeled: "Model Home - Open For Destruction."

It's open for destruction and it's all yours, boys. She's all yours.

The young boys are destroying a piano after it is pushed down the front steps, ripping apart tipped-over plants, setting fires, climbing up the outer walls, toppling statues, and smashing other objects. Lampwick is striking a match for his cigar across a graffiti-ruined painting of the Mona Lisa: "Ain't this a swell joint?" Pinocchio is happy about being allowed to be bad: "Being bad's a lot of fun, ain't it?" Lampwick hurls a brick through a colorful stained-glass window.

Elsewhere on Pleasure Island, the Coachman orders his minions (black creatures with yellow eyes) with his whip: "Shut the doors and lock 'em tight." They obey and trap the boys on the island. He follows it with another command: "Now get below and get them crates ready." The boys are being groomed to be 'jackasses' (donkeys) to be sold into slavery - his words ring true - the boys will never come back - as boys:

Give a bad boy enough rope and he'll soon make a jackass of himself.

Later That Night

Later that night on the dark, quiet and deserted island with many attractions in ruins, Jiminy desperately searches for Pinocchio: "Where is everybody? The place is like a graveyard." Lampwick and Pinocchio are in the pool hall - shaped like an 8-ball with a cue stick standing next to it. [Note: This cleverly represented the two modernistic structures, the central symbols - the Trylon and Perisphere, at the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair.] Lampwick is shooting pool, spitting tobacco juice, smoking, and drinking. A table nearby is where his newfound cigar-smoking friend Pinocchio sits with his legs up holds playing cards and betting chips. He wonders why they seem to be the only boys left in the park: "Where do you suppose all the kids went to?" Lampwick replies: "What do you care?" He is having a good time: "Oh boy! This is the life, huh?" Lampwick encourages Pinocchio to not smoke like his grandmother - and take a "big drag." Pinocchio inhales on his cigar, turning red in the face and then feeling sick. Kneeling on the table, the white-faced Pinocchio is whoozy as he aims his cue stick at the eight-ball, not the cue-ball.

Jiminy Cricket finds him and yells out to his friend and scolds him, distracting Pinocchio who rips the green felt covering of the table: "So this is where I find you! How do you ever expect to be a real boy?...You're comin' right home with me this minute." Lampwick demeans the reprimanding cricket: "Who's the beetle?" and picks him off his feet and dangles him by his coat collar. Pinocchio answers to explain: "He's my conscience. He tells me what's right and wrong." Lampwick is amazed: "What!? You mean to tell me, you take orders from a grasshopper?" Jiminy becomes indignant at the insult:

Look here, you, you impudent young pup. It wouldn't hurt you to take orders from your grasshopper, your conscience, if you have one.

As Jiminy sits on the eight-ball awaiting an answer with his arm folded across his chest, he (called a "screwball") is shot into the corner pocket, and propelled down the chute, and he jumps away just in time to avoid being crushed. Scrambling back to the table, Jiminy calls Lampwick a "young hoodlum" and waves his fist at him: "I'll knock your block off." Pinocchio urges Jiminy to not confront Lampwick: "He's my best friend." Jiminy is astonished and hurt: "Your best friend? And what am I? Just your conscience." Jiminy has had enough harrassment, and stomps off in a huff: "You buttered your bread. Now, sleep in it." When Lampwick laughs at the little guy, Jiminy shoots back with insightful words:

Go on, laugh. Make a jackass outta yourself. I'm through. This is the end.

Pinocchio pleads: "Lampwick says a guy only lives once."

As Jiminy heads back to the island's entrance to leave the miserable place ("I've had enough of this") and take the first boat out of there, he comes up to the locked gates. He demands: "I wanna go home" but only hears "Hee-Haws!" He crawls through the gates, and sees the mercenary scoundrel Coachman supervising as dozens of brayng, corralled donkeys are separated into crates and loaded onto steamboats. Jiminy asks himself: "Where'd all the donkeys come from?" He watches as the Coachman examines each donkey by asking for its name. When one donkey responds with a "Hee-Haw," he rips off the creature's sailor clothes and kicks it into a crate marked with a sign: Sold to the Salt Mines. (Another sign reads: "Sold to the Circus") He then greedily remarks: "You boys'll bring a nice price." A second donkey steps up, and gives his name: "Alexander." The still-talking donkey cries pitifully: "I wanna go home to my mama!" The Coachman throws him back into a pen of still-talking donkeys, who all plead: "I don't wanna be a donkey. Let me outta here." The menacing Coachman cracks his whip, as his giant hulking shadow covers the frightened animals:

You boys have had your fun - now pay for it.

At this point, Jiminy realizes that the wayward boys are being transformed into donkeys, and runs off to warn Pinocchio.

Lampwick Makes a Jackass of Himself

The next scene is one of the most frightening in the film - back in the pool hall, both Pinocchio and Lampwick are beginning to slowly change into donkeys. Ignorant of what is happening to him, Lampwick first painlessly sprouts long donkey ears (through his hat) and a tasseled-tail (that breaks through his britches). And then his face turns into a donkey head as he ironically conjectures about Jiminy: "What's he think I look like? A jackass?" Pinocchio, who has stopped drinking and smoking (thinking he may be seeing things) slaps his knees and answers that he literally does: "You sure do!" - and then brays by accident. He covers his mouth, as Lampwick notes: "Hey, you laugh like a donkey." When Lampwick also brays, he asks: "Did that come outta me?" After Pinocchio nods, Lampwick feels his mouth and face (with hair and an elongated mouth) and then touches his long ears. Realizing that he has changed, Lampwick panics and asks: "What's goin' on?" He sees his reflection as a half-donkey in a mirror and screams: "I've been double-crossed! Help, help, somebody help! I've been framed." He frantically begs Pinocchio: "Call that beetle. Call anybody." And then his hands and feet become hooves, and his whole body is soon covered in hair. In silhouette, he piteously cries out: "Mama! Mama!" as he loses his ability to speak and is completely transformed into a braying donkey on all four legs. He wildly crashes around the room, kicking out his hooves and hind legs into the mirror and furniture, and losing his clothes.

Astounded by what is happening, Pinocchio also grows two droopy donkey ears and a hairy long tail. Jiminy arrives back at the pool hall to warn him, but sees that Pinocchio is already turnng into one of the donkeys: "The boys, they're all donkeys. OH! You too!" They flee before the transformation becomes complete: "Come on, quick. Before you get any worse," and escape the cursed island to a high rocky cliff where the two jump into the ocean below.

Sad Homecoming

The two swim to dry land and rush to Geppetto's home, but the workshop is deserted, and there is no sign of Figaro or Cleo. A disappointed Pinocchio worries on the front steps: "Maybe something awful happened to him." Fortuitously, a message from the Blue Fairy's dove is dropped to them - a message about his father's whereabouts - alive after setting out in search for Pinocchio, but swallowed and in the belly of a giant whale underneath the sea:

It says here, he, uh, he went looking for you and he was swallowed by a whale...a whale named Monstro. But wait, he's alive!...Inside the whale at the bottom of the sea.

The Undersea Search for Geppetto

Pinocchio hurries off and announces determinedly, with no concern for his own safety: "I'm going to find him...I've got to go to him," although Jiminy - rushing behind him - is skeptical: "This Monstro, I've heard of him. He's a whale of a whale. Why, he swallows whole ships alive...And besides, it's dangerous." Nevertheless, he reluctantly joins Pinocchio, who ties a large rock to his ropey tail to weigh him down, and jumps from a high cliff into the water. Jiminy uses a rock in his pants as ballast, as the two walk underwater along the beautiful, shimmering ocean floor amidst coral caves, with shoals of colorful, striped tropical fish and crabs, a large clam, an octopus and a herd of tiny seahorses. They cry out with strange, bubbly gurgling voices: "Father!" Whenever they mention the name Monstro, the sea creatures seem terrified and flee.

In the dark water, Monstro naps - bubbles float from his mouth's baleen (filtering system). Deep inside his giant stomach, Geppetto sits on his large fishing boat - with a fishing pole. With the whale dormant and not eating for days, Geppetto is slowly starving: "Not a bite for days. We can't hold out much longer." Geppetto fondly remembers his puppet son: "He was such a good boy." He worries that if the monster whale doesn't awake soon, they are done for.

Monstro Awakens

When a school of tuna fish swim by, one of Monstro's huge eyes opens - the large and powerful whale swims after his prey, opens his mouth (viewed from the inside), and in one gigantic gulp swallows the entire school of fish. Geppetto is thrilled by the torrent of water and tuna flapping wildly nearby that are easily caught. Pinocchio swims within the onrush of frantically-escaping tuna, and is swallowed in the avalanche of water by Monstro as he breeches. Jiminy becomes separated from Pinocchio (at the outside of Monstro's mouth, he quips: "Hey, blubber mouth, open up!"), who is haplessly caught by Geppetto's fishline and hauled onboard.

A Soggy Reunion

Pinocchio cries out for his father to recognize him, in the pile of fish. Geppetto does a double-take after telling his son to stop interrupting him: "Don't bother me now, Pinocchio," and then hugs and embraces a large tuna - before realizing his son is behind him - they are joyfully reunited again as a family. Pinocchio announces his intentions to save his father, although Geppetto is wary: "You shouldn't have come down here." When he removes Pinocchio's hat, he notices his two floppy donkey ears, and the puppet boy also shows off his tail and a braying sound. His concerned father asks: "What's happened to you?", but then delays knowing: "Never mind now" - he is just happy to have his "little wooden head" back - "Nothing else matters."

A Whale of a Sneeze

To protect himself from attacking gulls and Monstro himself, Jiminy finds shelter in a floating bottle. Pinocchio and Geppetto discuss an escape plan from the interior dark belly of the whale, although the father fears it's hopeless. This is Pinocchio's final test (similar to the one faced by the character of Jonah in the Bible after he was swallowed by a large fish specially prepared by God, and spent three days and three nights before being expelled). The boy suggests that they set a "great big fire" with lots of smoke to force the whale to sneeze and open its mouth, and then float out on Geppetto's raft. Pinocchio's father is fearful of Monstro's temper. With a fire burning on the ship's deck, the thick dark smoke first emerges from Monstro's blowhole and then from his mouth as it grows in intensity. Monstro grunts, snorts, sniffs, and heaves, and then sneezes - vomiting or propelling them on the raft through Monstro's large teeth and into the open water. Jiminy joins them as the raft flies over the water ("Hey, which way you going? Wait for me!"). A second sneeze both pulls them back into the mouth like a riptide, and then jettisons them across the water again.

Angered, irritated and furious, Monstro pursues after them in a deadly chase - he balances the raft on his back, then flips the raft high into the air and spills them into the churned up ocean. He turns, roars, and begins a second fierce attack, as the two on the raft hurriedly attempt to paddle away. They must jump for safety from the raft when Monstro slams into it with his enormous tail. Forced to abandon their raft, they frantically swim for shore, holding on to wooden pieces of their raft. Although Geppetto urges Pinocchio to save himself, the boy selflessly and valiantly pulls his father above water to prevent him from drowning. He swims, dragging his father with him, to a rocky cove to escape Monstro's wrath, where they are washed ashore. When the water recedes, all have survived (even Cleo and Figaro). Jiminy calls out for his friend - and finds him face-down and unmoving in a pool of water.

The Dream Fulfilled

Back in Geppetto's workshop-home, Pinocchio is placed on the bed where he is sorrowfully mourned by his father ("My brave little boy") for his noble death.

Suddenly, the room lightens as the Blue Fairy's voice speaks, and re-echoes her promise: "Prove yourself brave, truthful, and unselfish, and someday you will be a real boy." She gently commands: "Awake, Pinocchio." A shimmering light surrounds the boy, after which he slowly rubs his eyes, opens them, and sits up - reborn. Miraculously, he no longer has wooden joints, but real rosy-colored skin. His Mickey Mouse three-fingered and white-gloved hands change into human hands - without gloves. He exclaims to his father: "Whatcha cryin' for?" Even while speaking to him, Geppetto believes his son is dead. But Pinocchio insists: "But father, I'm alive. See. And, and I'm, I'm real. I'm a real boy." Revived as a real boy, everyone rejoices and celebrates. Figaro jumps into the fishbowl and kisses Cleo. Geppetto calls for a "celebration" - and all of the cuckoo clocks and music boxes are activated. Geppetto picks up his hand-held concertina (accordion) and plays a happy tune as he dances with Pinocchio.

Jiminy reminds the audience: "Well, this is practically where I came in." He steps aside to the bedroom window, walks out onto the ledge, and expresses his thanks to the Blue Fairy - a twinkling star: "He deserved to be a real boy. It sure was nice of you to - ." In recognition of his own contributions to Pinocchio's transformation, something twinkles on his chest - a reward. It's a shiny, solid 18 KT. gold badge engraved with two words: "OFFICIAL CONSCIENCE." He uses it to twinkle back, then declares: "Oh, I think it's swell." The film ends with a view of the starry sky where wishes have actually come true:

When your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true.
You'll find your dreams come true.

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