A living puppet, with the help of a cricket as his conscience, must prove himself worthy to become a real boy.
The Adventures of Pinocchio
by Carlo Collodi
Paul J. Smith
Walt Disney Productions
RKO Radio Pictures
February 7, 1940 (Center Theatre)
February 23, 1940 (United States)
Jiminy Cricket, after singing "When You Wish Upon A Star", explains to the audience that he is going to tell a story of a wish coming true. His story begins in the Italian workshop of a woodworker named Geppetto. Jiminy watc*es as Geppetto finishes work on a wooden marionette whom he names Pinocchio. Before falling asleep, Geppetto wishes on a star that Pinocchio will be a real boy. During the night, a Blue Fairy visits the workshop and brings Pinocchio to life, although he remains a puppet. She informs him that if he proves himself brave, truthful, and unselfish, he will become a real boy and assigns Jiminy to be his conscience.
Geppetto is shocked but ecstatic to discover his puppet is alive. The next day, on his way to school, Pinocchio is led astray by a con-artist fox named Honest John, who convinces him to join Stromboli's puppet show and become a star as a "living puppet without strings", despite Jiminy's objections. Pinocchio becomes Stromboli's star attraction as a marionette who can sing and dance without strings. However, when Pinocchio wants to go home for the night, Stromboli locks him in a birdcage. In fact, Stromboli intends to exploit Pinocchio by enslaving and forcing him to perform around the world to make much money just for the puppeteer himself and then to use the little wooden boy as firewood once he gets too old to perform. Jiminy sneaks into Stromboli's wagon, but is unable to his friend. The Blue Fairy appears and asks Pinocchio why he was not at school. Jiminy urges Pinocchio to tell the truth, but instead, he starts telling lies, which causes his nose to grow longer and longer. Pinocchio vows to be good from now on, and the Blue Fairy returns his nose to its original form and sets him while warning him that this will be the last time she can help him.
Across town, in the Red Lobster Inn, Honest John and his sidekick Gideon the Cat meet a coachman who promises Honest John to pay him money if he can find stupid little boys for him to take to Pleasure Island. Though Honest John is at first terrified at the simple mention of the place and getting caught, the coachman assures him that none of the boys ever come back "as boys". The two then encounter Pinocchio on his way home after escaping from Stromboli. Honest John then pretends to be a "doctor" and convinces him that he is "allergic" and he needs to take a vacation on Pleasure Island after his terrible experience. On the way to Pleasure Island, he befriends Lampwick, a delinquent boy. Without rules or authority to enforce their activity, Pinocchio and the other boys soon engage in smoking cigars and cigarettes, gambling, vandalism, and getting drunk, much to Jiminy's dismay. Later, while trying to get home, Jiminy discovers that the island hides a horrible curse: the boys brought to Pleasure Island make jackasses of themselves by turning into donkeys and are sold to slave labor in salt mines and circuses. Jiminy runs back to warn Pinocchio, only to witness Lampwick transform into a donkey. With Jiminy's help, Pinocchio narrowly escapes the island with only donkey ears and a tail.
Upon returning home, Pinocchio and Jiminy find the workshop vacant. They soon get a letter from the Blue Fairy as a dove, stating that Geppetto had ventured out to sea to save Pinocchio from Pleasure Island but was swallowed by Monstro, a terrible giant whale, and is now living in the belly of the beast. Determined to rescue his father, Pinocchio jumps into the sea, accompanied by Jiminy. Pinocchio is soon swallowed by Monstro as well, where he finds Geppetto. Pinocchio devises a scheme to make Monstro sneeze, giving them a chance to escape. The scheme works, but the enraged whale chases them and smashes their raft. Pinocchio pulls Geppetto to safety in a cave before Monstro crashes into it. Geppetto, Figaro, Cleo, and Jiminy are washed up safely on a beach, but Pinocchio is apparently killed.
Back home, Geppetto, Jiminy, and the pets are inconsolable and mourn the loss of Pinocchio. However, the Blue Fairy decides that Pinocchio has proven himself brave, truthful, and selfless; to reward him, she reverses the Pleasure Island curse and turns him into a real human boy reviving him in the process. Much to everyone's joy, Pinocchio awakens when they find out he's now a real boy. As the group celebrates, Jiminy steps outside to thank the Fairy and is rewarded with a solid gold badge that certifies him as an official conscience.