Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Song of the South (1946)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Song of the South (1946)

In Disney's remarkable film (a hybrid of live action and animation) that has since been accused of racial stereotypes - based on the "Uncle Remus" stories in the late 1800s of Joel Chandler Harris (first published as columns in the Atlanta Constitution newspaper), and presented as one of their earliest, innovative live-action (70%) and animation (30%) mixtures - it was Disney's first attempt to make a feature film that included extensive, dramatic live-action footage:

  • set presumably after the Civil War in the mid-to-late 1800s at a time when slavery was abolished during the Reconstruction Era in Georgia, it told about a family that journeyed from their home in Atlanta to a large rural plantation (owned by Sally's (Ruth Warwick) mother Miss Doshy (Lucile Watson)) - they rode in an open carriage together. Sally and her husband John (Erik Wolf) were in the midst of a marital separation, and young 8 year-old son Johnny (Bobby Driscoll) was being taken by his mother to live with his grandmother for an extended period of time, while his newspaper-editor father John returned to Atlanta without them; Johnny was cared for by black nursemaid Aunt Tempy (Hattie McDaniel)
Sally and John
Aunt Tempy and Johnny
The Plantation House
Servant boy Toby (Glen Leedy) with Johnny
Ginny Favers (Luana Patten) with Dog Teenchie
Joe and Jake Favers - Ginny's Two Bullying Brothers
  • once his father departed back to Atlanta and the distressed young Johnny feared the threatened divorce of his parents, he decided to run back to the city; he was befriended and comforted by the charismatic handyman and folk story-teller (and former slave) Uncle Remus (Special Oscar-winning James Baskett), who took him to his cabin for some "grub" (cornbread and sweet taters) and became his best friend and confidante
  • storytelling Uncle Remus illustrated life lessons to help Johnny deal with his family and personal troubles through three animated sequences that featured Uncle Remus characters (i.e., Br'er Rabbit, wily Br'er Fox, and the stupidly dim-witted Br'er Bear). Br'er Rabbit was able to outtrick the fox and bear in all three instances of his tales:

"Br'er Rabbit Earns a Dollar a Minute" (approx. 8 minutes), featuring the Oscar-winning song: "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah"

While running away from his briar patch ("I ain't ever comin' back"), Br'er Rabbit became caught in Br'er Fox's snare trap, at the edge of a cornfield; he fooled Br'er Bear into switching places with him as a 'paid' scarecrow (for a dollar a minute) to protect the field; Br'er Rabbit learned his lesson about leaving home (and so did Johnny) - "You can't run away from trouble."

"Br'er Rabbit Earns a Dollar a Minute"

"Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby" (approx. 12 minutes), featuring the song: "How Do You Do?"

After Br'er Rabbit's arm (and entire body) became stuck in Br'er Fox's trap on the side of the road - a 'tar-baby' (a doll-like clothed figure composed of sticky tar), he begged them to be released, using reverse psychology - do anything you want with me – roas' me, hang me, skin me, drown me – "but please, Br'er Fox, don't fling me in dat brier-patch" - and the gullible Fox complied, thereby freeing Br'er Rabbit. The lesson taught to Johnny was that people shouldn't get involved with something they have no business with in the first place.

"Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby"

"Br'er Rabbit's Laughing Place" (approx. 5 minutes), featuring the song: "Everybody's Got a Laughing Place"

Br'er Rabbit was again captured by the Bear and Fox (and was about to be BBQ'd on a fire for dinner), but convinced his captors to lead him to his secret "laughing place" (he tricked them by taking them to a bee hive in a bushy thicket) and was able to escape. The story helped Johnny and Ginny to be cheered up after the Favers boys bullied them, and they were unable to attend Johnny's birthday party.

"Br'er Rabbit's Laughing Place"
  • rather than his own peers, Johnny preferred to spend time with his black servant Toby, playing with a croaking frog. He also suffered the bullying of two poor 'white-trash' boys, Joe (Gene Holland) and Jake Favers (Georgie Nokes), who threatened their blonde sister Ginny's runt dog named Teenchie, that was given to Johnny as a gift. As a result of Uncle Remus' second tale, Johnny used reverse psychology on the Favers boys, daring them to not tell their mother about the dog, but of course they did - and they received a whipping from their mother. However, Sally ordered Uncle Remus to stop telling tall tales to the impressionable Johnny, and Teenchie was reluctantly returned to the Favers.
  • in the film's conclusion, when storyteller Uncle Remus was leaving the plantation and departing for Atlanta, the young boy was dismayed and felt deserted. He took a shortcut across a pasture to try and catch up to him. He was seriously injured by a bull, but was revived from death by the return of his father to the plantation and story-telling Uncle Remus who reprised the "Laughing Place" tale. Johnny reached out for Uncle Remus' hand for comfort, and was assured by his father and mother that the family was back together for good ("We'll have the laughing-est place in the whole wide world")
  • the film ended with the cartoon characters (butterflies, Br'er Rabbit, a frog and more) interacting with Uncle Remus and the children (Johnny, Ginny, and Toby) as they skipped along the road toward the horizon while singing "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah."

First Views of Storyteller Uncle Remus


Storyteller Uncle Remus with Johnny and Toby

Storyteller Uncle Remus with Johnny and Ginny

The Remus Tales:

Br'er Rabbit

Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear

Bull Attack on Johnny

Revived from Death by Uncle Remus

Ending Image


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