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10 princess-free Disney classics

Princesses tend to get all the press when it comes to Disney movies, both classic and new, but not every kid aspires to royalty and the glittery tiaras that come with it. For every young "Frozen" fan there's another child who would rather hang out in the jungle or learn to fly, and, luckily, Disney has also made many movies to appeal to those viewers during its long and distinguished Hollywood career. Here are ten animated Disney classics where other kinds of heroes and heroines take over the spotlight from Disney's ubiquitous princesses. If Anna and Elsa leave your youngster cold, these movies might just be the remedy to get them excited and singing along.

For Disney classics without princesses, try films like "Dumbo" (1941).
Blu-ray cover from Walt Disney Home Entertainment

1) "Pinocchio" (1940) - Based on the novel by Italian author Carlo Collodi, this colorful fantasy follows the misadventures of a wooden puppet boy who disobeys his paternal creator and the voice of his conscience. Characters like Jiminy Cricket and the Blue Fairy are favorites with fans of the film, and the old-school animation is both beautiful and dramatic. Parents with very young children should be warned that this movie puts its protagonist into considerable peril; he is punished for his bad behavior by being turned into a donkey and later gets swallowed by a whale. Musical highlights of the picture include "An Actor's Life for Me," "Give a Little Whistle," and "When You Wish Upon a Star."

2) "Fantasia" (1940) - Disney's conceptually daring "Fantasia" abandons a central narrative in favor of a series of movements inspired by classical music, which makes it something of an acquired taste. For most Disney devotees, the high points are Mickey's original appearance as The Sorcerer's Apprentice and the Night on Bald Mountain sequence. Leopold Stokowski conducts the Philadelphia Orchestra for the musical performances. "Fantasia 2000" (1999) offers a sequel to the original, and those who enjoy the 1940 production should definitely see the later picture.

3) "Dumbo" (1941) - A sweet baby elephant with oversized ears is the unlikely hero in this circus story, which even very young children can appreciate. Little Dumbo suffers rejection and hardship until he discovers that his ears also bring with them a very special gift, the ability to fly. The trippy "Pink Elephants" song is a wildly catchy earworm, while "Baby Mine" will have the most cynical adults sniffling.

4) "Alice in Wonderland" (1951) - Alice is one of the few non-royal human heroines of the classic Disney canon, but she also has more interesting adventures than the princess crowd. Thanks to Lewis Carroll's celebrated story, there's not a prince or a bridal gown in sight as Alice has to think, run, grow, and talk her way through the mixed up world of Wonderland. Familiar character actors like Sterling Holloway, Ed Wynn, and Richard Haydn bring the crazy characters to life, while young Kathryn Beaumont gives Alice just enough English propriety mixed with pert girlish spunk. Musical highlights include "I'm Late," "The Unbirthday Song," and "Painting the Roses Red."

5) "Peter Pan" (1953) - Adapted from the original play and story by J.M. Barrie, this English fantasy follows the Darling children, Wendy, John, and Michael, as they fly away to Neverland with the impish Peter Pan. As Disney classics go, "Peter Pan" can be a mixed bag for modern children. Peter and the pirates are great fun, but sexism and racism pervade the treatment of Wendy and the Indians. Be sure to talk with girls about whether or not they think Wendy and Tinkerbell are getting a fair shake in this wildly masculine world. If your Lost Boys love Neverland, follow up with recorded versions of the stage musical, "Hook" (1991), or the 2003 live action version, which goes a long way to correct the images of both Wendy and the Indian princess, Tiger Lily.

6) "Lady and the Tramp" (1955) - Dog lovers never tire of this canine classic, a love story about a pampered Cocker Spaniel and a feisty stray. With wonderful songs like "The Siamese Cat Song," "Bella Notte," and "He's a Tramp," this lively tale gets tails wagging and dogs of all kinds howling along. Barbara Luddy, a frequent Disney voice actor, provides the voice of Lady, but singer Peggy Lee gives the musical numbers their zing and also supplies the voice of the crooning stray, Peg.

7) "101 Dalmatians" (1961) - The classic children's book by Dodie Smith is the basis for this English dog story, which features a pair of heroic Dalmatians struggling to save their kidnapped puppies from a vicious villain with a yen for dog fur coats. Cruella De Vil steals the show as one of Disney's great heavies, and the song about her stands out in a movie that mostly stays out of musical territory. Adults might recognize actor Rod Taylor as the voice of Pongo, while serious classic movie fans will appreciate Tom Conway's brief contributions as the Quizmaster and the helpful collie.

8) "The Jungle Book" (1967) - Rudyard Kipling's adventure fantasy about a boy raised by wolves gets a swinging adaptation in this film, which includes great songs performed by Louis Prima and radio star Phil Harris. Other familiar voices also appear in the picture: George Sanders provides the purring menace of Shere Khan, Sterling Holloway is Kaa the snake, and Sebastian Cabot gives his voice to Bagheera the panther. The song, "The Bare Necessities," even earned the movie an Oscar nomination.

9) "The Aristocats" (1970) - Cats finally get a chance to take center stage in this French story of a butler who wants to get his employer's beloved pets out of the way so that he can inherit the estate. While not as popular as some of the earlier animal tales, "The Aristocats" offers real pleasure for fans of the elegant Eva Gabor, who supplies the voice and personality of Duchess. Phil Harris makes another appearance as the roaming tom cat, O'Malley, and other voice actors include Scatman Cruthers, Sterling Holloway, Pat Buttram, George Lindsey, Nancy Kulp, and Thurl Ravenscroft. The musical highlight of the film is "Everybody Wants to Be a Cat," but the theme song, performed by Maurice Chevalier, is also a lot of fun.

10) "Robin Hood" (1973) - Disney gives this old English legend a folksy twist with a cast of talking animals and a long list of memorable voice actors. It's a light, action-packed treatment of the bandit and his adventures, with songs and plenty of physical comedy to keep wiggly youngsters entertained. Brian Bedford, playing the heroic Robin, is dashing and romantic, while Peter Ustinov seems to be having a ball as the cowardly Prince John. Roger Wood plays Allan-a-Dale and sings most of the movie's songs. Fans of Westerns and classic television shows will also recognize the voices of Pat Buttram, George Lindsey, Andy Devine, Ken Curtis, and John Fiedler, while Disney regulars will appreciate yet another fun performance from Phil Harris. While not the most memorable song of the picture, "Love" earned the movie an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.

For even more princess-free Disney classics, try "Bambi" (1942) and "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" (1977), or check out live-action Disney movies like "Mary Poppins" (1964) and "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" (1971). See the video above for a list of the most memorable animated characters from classic Disney movies.

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