Sleeping Beauty, adapted from the Charles Perrault version of the fairy tale (and reportedly costing $6 million), is no surprise in its familiar outlines. It’s the story of Princess Aurora, who is put under a spell at birth by the bad fairy, Maleficent. She is to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die before she grows up. But the good fairies, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, are able to amend the curse. The princess shall not die, but shall fall into a deep sleep. She will be awakened by her true love, Prince Philip.
Mary Costa’s rich and expressive voice for the title character gives substance and strength to it. The music is an adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty ballet, and it is music – where adapted for song – that requires something more than just a pleasant voice. Bill Shirley, as the prince, contributes some good vocal work. His cartoon character is considerably more masculine than Disney heroes usually are.
Some of the best parts of the picture are those dealing with the three good fairies, spoken and sung by Verna Felton, Barbara Jo Allen and Barbara Luddy.
The picture was shot in Technirama and Technicolor, and then, when completed, printed for 70mm on special printer lenses developed for Disney by Panavision. Disney gives credit to more than 70 contributors on Sleeping Beauty. Clyde Geronimi was supervising director, and Eric Larson, Wolfgang Reitherman and Les Clark, the sequence directors.
1959: Nomination: Best Scoring of a Musical Picture