Cutting Room Floor Banner for JB Kaufman

The Shimmying Prince

On pages 237-38 of the book I related the story of the Prince’s approach to Snow White’s bier in sequence 16A, scene 3 of the film—a scene that may have been rephotographed and replaced after the film had already opened in Los Angeles and New York. At issue were the unsteady ink lines that resulted in the Prince’s wobbly action; as Roy Disney put it, the Prince seemed to “shimmy” as he walked down the path. A viewing of the scene today reveals no real problem with the Prince’s action, and lends credence to contemporary press reports that a second version of the scene may have been substituted in the print after Snow White had already opened and was running at Radio City Music Hall. But the archival evidence I found was incomplete, and didn’t establish a definitive answer one way or the other.

After the book went to press, a new piece of evidence came to my attention that sheds fresh light on this question—but still doesn’t settle it! This is a series of “daily reports” filed in the late 1930s by Bill Garity, the technical wizard who played both technical and administrative roles at the studio. On Monday, 3 January 1938, Garity wrote: “Mickey advised me that the retake on the feature was not worked on over the week-end and was only started in the Inking Department this morning.” In this entry “Mickey” is probably Mickey Batchelder of the camera department, “the feature” at this date surely means Snow White, and a retake involving the inking department probably refers to the Prince’s walk down the path. But Garity doesn’t specifically identify the scene, so the best we can do is speculate.

More puzzling than this is the date of the entry. By 3 January Snow White had been playing at the Carthay Circle in Los Angeles for nearly two weeks, but the New York opening at Radio City Music Hall was still ten days away. In the final hectic weeks of production in December 1937, last-minute retakes had been completed and inserted in the film in far less than ten days. If Walt wanted to remake this scene for New York—even if the work was delayed, as Garity implies—there would have been enough time to finish the retake before the print was sent to Radio City. If this was indeed the scene in question, and if it was remade, why would it have been substituted after the film had already started its run there?

Garity’s journal provides a fascinating sidelight on this matter, but without more detailed information, it raises more questions than it answers. The mystery deepens!

Special thanks to Michael Barrier and to Didier Ghez for bringing Garity’s reports to my attention

Book Reference: