Pink Elephants on Parade is the name of a segment, and the song played therein, from the 1941 Disney animated feature film Dumbo in which Dumbo and Timothy Q. Mouse, having accidentally become intoxicated (through drinking water spiked with champagne), see pink elephants sing, dance, and play marching band instruments …
In contrast to the soft and innocent nature of Dumbo, Timothy is brazen, fearless, and shrewd. Throughout the film, however, Timothy’s primary goal is to make Dumbo happy and help him rescue his mother, showing a sympathetic quality despite his rough, stereotypically Brooklyn personality.
Timothy acts as the much needed protector in Dumbo’s life, standing up for the saddened elephant when others attack him on account of his abnormally large ears. He cares for Dumbo, and truly wants him to succeed in life, save his mother, and prove to the world that he is not some abomination. And with the determination that Timothy’s famous for, the duo manage to accomplish just that. Not only does he acts as Dumbo’s manager and motivator, but as his closest friend, and for a while, his only friend.
It should be noted that all of Timothy’s actions in the film are clearly driven by his sympathy for Dumbo. After seeing the poor elephant abused and shunned by the other female elephants, Timothy does not only stand up for him but takes the young elephant under his wing and sticks by his side throughout the entire film, determined to make him happy again and not once giving up hope. Because of their relationship and the absence of a paternal figure in Dumbo’s life, Timothy has been cited by animation historian John Canemaker, as one of Dumbo’s surrogate father figures.
Dumbo is a 1941 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The fourth Disney animated feature film, it is based upon the storyline written by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl, and illustrated by Helen Durney for the prototype of a novelty toy (“Roll-a-Book”). The main character is Jumbo Jr., a semi-anthropomorphic elephant who is cruelly nicknamed “Dumbo”, as in “dumb”. He is ridiculed for his big ears, but in fact he is capable of flying by using his ears as wings. Throughout most of the film, his only true friend, aside from his mother, is the mouse, Timothy – a relationship parodying the stereotypical animosity between mice and elephants.
A live-action adaptation of the film directed by Tim Burton is scheduled to be released on March 29, 2019.
A flock of storks delivers babies while circus animals are being transported by train from their “Winter Quarters”. Mrs. Jumbo, one of the elephants, receives her baby, who is soon made fun of by the other elephants because of his large ears, and they nickname him “Dumbo”.
When a storm comes, the elephants have to help set up the circus tents. Afterward, they have a parade through town. However, Dumbo ends up in a muddy puddle, so Mrs. Jumbo has to wash him. When a group of boys torments Dumbo, Mrs. Jumbo responds by attacking one of the boys and, losing her temper in the confusion. Mrs. Jumbo is deemed mad and tossed into a cage. Dumbo is shunned by the other elephants, and with no parent to care for him, he is now alone. Timothy Q. Mouse, who feels sympathy for Dumbo and becomes determined to help regain his spirits, appoints himself as Dumbo’s mentor and protector.
After being secretly encouraged by Timothy, the circus director makes Dumbo the top of an elephant pyramid stunt. The performance goes awry as Dumbo trips over his ears and misses his target, causing the other elephants to suffer various injuries, and bring down the big top. Dumbo is made into a clown as a result, officially having the other elephants deem him no longer one of them, and plays the main role in an act that involves him falling into a vat of pie filling. Despite his newfound popularity and fame, Dumbo dislikes this job and is now more miserable than ever.
To cheer Dumbo up, Timothy takes him to visit his mother; on the way back, Dumbo cries and then starts to hiccup, so Timothy takes him for a drink of water from a bucket which, unknown to them, has accidentally had a bottle of champagne knocked into it by the clowns. As a result, Dumbo and Timothy both become drunk, and see hallucinations of pink elephants.
The next morning, Dumbo and Timothy wake up in a tree, but soon fall into a lake; Timothy wonders how they got up in the tree, and concludes that Dumbo flew up there using his large ears as wings. With the help from a group of crows, Timothy is able to get Dumbo to fly again, using a psychological trick of a “magic feather” to boost his confidence.
Back at the circus, Dumbo performs the same stunt, which involves jumping from a high building. On the way down, Dumbo loses the feather; Timothy quickly tells him that the feather was never magical and that he is still able to fly. Dumbo is able to pull out of the dive and flies around the circus, finally striking back at his tormentors as a stunned audience looks on in amazement. After this performance, Dumbo becomes a media sensation, Timothy becomes his manager, and Dumbo and Mrs. Jumbo are given a private car on the circus train.
- Edward Brophy as Timothy Q. Mouse, an anthropomorphic mouse who becomes the only friend of Dumbo after his mother is locked up and does his best to make Dumbo happy again. He teaches Dumbo how to become the “ninth wonder of the universe”, and the only flying elephant in the world. He is never mentioned by name in the film, but his signature can be read on the contract in a newspaper photograph at the finale.
- Verna Felton as Elephant Matriarch, the well-meaning but pompous leader of the elephants who is initially cold toward Dumbo. Felton also voices Mrs. Jumbo, Dumbo’s mother, who speaks only once in the film to give Dumbo’s name.
- Cliff Edwards as Jim Crow, the leader of a group of crows. Though he initially teases Dumbo about his big ears and ridicules Timothy’s idea that Dumbo can fly, he hears Dumbo’s tragic history and becomes determined to help Dumbo fly for real.
- Herman Bing as The Ringmaster, who though not truly evil, is a strict and occasionally arrogant man.
- Margaret Wright as Casey Junior, the sentient 2-4-0 tender locomotive hauling the circus train.
- Sterling Holloway as Mr. Stork
- The Hall Johnson Choir as Crow Chorus
- The King’s Men as Roustabout Chorus
- Noreen Gammill as Elephant Catty
- Dorothy Scott as Elephant Giddy
- Sarah Selby as Elephant Prissy
- Malcolm Hutton as Skinny
- Billy Bletcher as Clown
- John McLeish as the narrator
“The story follows Holt Farrier, a former circus star and war veteran, who has been enlisted by circus owner Max Medici to care for a newborn elephant with oversized ears. The baby elephant’s ears are a laughingstock and embarrassment to the already struggling circus. That is, until Holt’s children discover that Dumbo can fly! Aerial artist Colette Marchant and entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere then swoop in to make Dumbo, the flying elephant, a star.”
Struggling circus owner Max Medici enlists a former star and his two children to care for Dumbo, a baby elephant born with oversized ears. When the family discovers that the animal can fly, it soon becomes the main attraction — bringing in huge audiences and revitalizing the run-down circus. The elephant’s magical ability also draws the attention of V.A. Vandevere, an entrepreneur who wants to showcase Dumbo in his latest, larger-than-life entertainment venture.
- Colin Farrell as Holt Farrier, a war veteran and former circus star from Kentucky who is hired by Medici to care for the newborn elephant.
- Michael Keaton as V. A. Vandevere, a ruthless and enigmatic entrepreneur who acquires a circus to exploit the titular elephant.
- Danny DeVito as Max Medici, the ringmaster and owner of a small, struggling circus that gets acquired by V. A. Vandevere.
- Eva Green as Colette Marchant, a French trapeze artist who performs at the circus.
- Alan Arkin as J. Griffin Remington, a Wall Street tycoon.
- Nico Parker as Milly Farrier, Holt’s daughter.
- Finley Hobbins as Joe Farrier, Holt’s son.
- Roshan Seth as Pramesh Singh, a snake charmer.
- DeObia Oparei as Rongo the Strongo
- Joseph Gatt as Neils Skellig
- Sharon Rooney as Miss Atlantis
- Michael Buffer as Baritone Bates, a Dreamland ringmaster.
- Frank Bourke as Puck
- Jo Osmond as Circus Cook