During the ten-year period that the Disney animators produced their delightful Silly Symphony series there was only one story they chose to dramatize twice, Hans Christian Andersen's The Ugly Duckling. The studio released two quite different versions of the story in 1931 and 1939, at the beginning of the series' history and at the end.
The latter adaptation displays all the sophisticated techniques the animators had developed during that eventful era: it's in glorious Technicolor, the draftsmanship and character animation are superb, and the storytelling is clear, concise, and funny. And yet there's something to be said for the comparatively primitive black & white version of 1931.
The color film won the 1939 Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons).
In this version, the baby swan's sufferings are shortened, as he is found by his family, after only a few minutes of rejection and ostracism, instead of a whole year. This abbreviated version is read by Lilo to Stitch in the 2002 Disney film Lilo & Stitch. The story has a deep impact on Stitch, who sets out to look for his real family.
The Ugly Duckling was Disney's last Silly Symphony. Since 1993, the Walt Disney Classics Collection has released sculpture releases (through scenes, stand alones and Enchanted Places) from the Silly Symphony shorts. February 2007 marked the debut of the Silly Symphony Series with the release of the Ugly Duckling & His Mother (pictured above). "A Loving Embrace" is an Open Edition release, sculpted by Jacqueline Perreault Gonzales.
For your viewing pleasure, below are both the 1931 & 1939 releases of The Ugly Duckling (courtesy of YouTube.com):
The Ugly Duckling (1931) is a Silly Symphony Cartoon ©Disney
The Ugly Duckling (1939) is a Silly Symphony Cartoon ©Disney