20 Classic, Unusual and Terrible Cinderella adaptations!

Over the years I’ve seen way more Cinderella versions than even I realized. Writing last week’s review opened my memory’s floodgates of Cinderella adaptations from cartoons I watched as a kid to musicals to modern day retellings. Some of these films I still re-watch today, classics to be cherished. Others I’ve forgotten over the years or some of them I really don’t want to see again. With so many, I’ve divided them in half. I wrote this list up in chronological order of their release dates. 

Here are the first ten Cinderella adaptations!

Tex Avery’s Swing Shift Cinderella (cartoon) 1945
As a kid, I used to watch Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and MGM’S Tex Avery cartoons every day. If it was animated, I would’ve enjoyed it. I really hadn’t thought about this cartoon in years; writing up this list brought back some old memories and I had to do a little researching to figure out the name of the Cinderella parody cartoon I watched in my childhood. Released fifteen years before Disney’s classic animated film, Swing Shift Cinderella is a comedy short that is sort of a sequel to Red Hot Riding Hood, another of Avery’s shorts. The short is outrageous and, probably, intended more for an adult’s sense of a comedy with a very sexy Cinderella who gets transformed by her fairy grandmother into a fancy stage costume so can sing at a nightclub. The wolf follows there where he howls, wolf-whistles, and goes gaga over the gorgeous night club singer in silly animated style. It ends with Cinderella changing into 40s work clothes by midnight and getting on the bus, most likely heading to factory work. She’s glad that she escaped that annoying wolf – until she sees the bus is full of wolves who start wolf-whistling her.

Disney’s Cinderella 1950
The one that started it all. Like Disney’s first movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Disney’s Cinderella is an unforgettable retelling of the fairytale that 65 years later is still beloved. As a young girl I had two obsessions: Barbie dolls and Disney Princesses. I distinctly remember the excitement of going to my grandparents’ house as they owned a lot of Disney movies. I would watch the classics like Cinderella and Dumbo. This Cinderella remains pretty faithful to the original story following a kind-natured girl who slaves away for her cruel step-mother and ugly step-sisters. A fairy god-mother, shimmering dress, magical carriage, and glass shoes help her meet a charming prince. Happy endings prevail because Cinderella is good and kind. This movie will always have a fond place in my heart even though I think the story revolves more around the mice than the heroine, lol. I guess I just wanted to see more Cinderella.

The Glass Slipper 1955I used to be an avid classic film watcher. I would turn on TCM and watch whatever was on. I can’t remember the first time I watched this 50s film; I was entertained but I don’t think it made much of an impression on me then. Since then I’ve re-watched it a few times, finding it more sweet and entertaining each time. The story follows many of the classic elements – Ella is practically a slave to her cruel step-mother and sisters, living practically in rags. Unlike other retellings, Ella isn’t quiet and nice. She can get very angry and often yells and fights with her step-family. One of those tantrums leads her to meet a nice young man who says he’s the son of a cake-maker at the castle (surprise, he’s the prince!) Ella has more meetings with the prince and also an eccentric old lady who steals a gown for her to wear to the ball. What’s unique about this particular film are the elaborate dance scenes (common for 50s movies, of course). Ella is played by the lovely Leslie Caron (Gigi, An American in Paris) who was originally a ballerina. Her dancing is lithe and graceful and makes the movie almost feel like a fairy tale ballet. Add exquisite gowns and a lovely 50s ambience, this is a movie I will continue to adore.

Cinderfella 1960
Along with watching classic films, I grew up on the classic comedians of the time – Bob Hope, Abbot and Costello, Lucille Ball and of course Jerry Lewis, a timeless comedian whose still well-known today for his zany characters and physical humor. Cinderfella is a gender-bend film with Fella replacing Cinderella, a Princess Charming, two step-brothers, and a Fairy Godfather. Fella is practically a servant for his selfish step-mother and step-brothers with comedic scenes involving washing dishes to his dinner being interrupted constantly by his step-family’s requests. With the help of his Fairy Godfather, he goes to the ball and dances with Princess Charming. A side plot involves Fella trying to find his deceased father’s fortune his dad concealed somewhere. Fella, like Cinderella, remains kind to the end and gets his happy ending. The film itself is slow and not quite as funny as his other movies, in my opinion. Still, it’s definitely cute, made enjoyable by Jerry Lewis’ fun presence.

Fractured Fairy Tales Cinderella 1961
The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, a beloved cartoon from the 60s, aired reruns on TV usually past my bedtime as a kiddo. I was excited anytime I was able to catch an episode of this amusing, fun cartoon. The show was broken up into segments with a “serial” like following of Rocky and Bullwinkle’s adventures. They also had Dudley Do-Right, Peabody’s Improbably History (this was recently made into an animated movie Peabody and Sherman), and my favorite: Fractured Fairy Tales. Silly and zany, these fairytales took the essential elements and changed things up. In this funny short, Cinderella is given a dress, gown and carriage by her fairy godmother with a stipulate – Cinderella has to sell a cartload of pots and pans, all going for the amazing price of $39.99. Cinderella decides to sell it to the richest man in the kingdom – the prince. She just doesn’t know that the prince is looking for a rich woman to save the country’s financial woes. Cinderella and the prince spend the evening with her trying to sell him some pans, and he trying to woo her to marry before midnight. It’s a short and silly retelling that entertained me as a kid and even makes me smile as an adult.

Three Wishes for Cinderella 1973
My sister has made something of a hobby of searching up subtitled European fairytale films to watch. She introduced me to this lovely Czechoslovak/East German film which I found adorable. Instead of a fairy godmother, Cinderella is given three magic nuts that she makes wishes with. She has three encounters with an impish young prince including one where she’s disguised as a boy and shoots a crossbow.  At the end, she puts the prince through a little test of her own to see if he recognized who she is. There is so much whimsy and beauty in this movie with the lovely medieval clothing and gorgeous, snow-covered landscape. Watching Cinderella wander through the white-crested forest makes me want to buy a one-way ticket to the Bohemian Forest. This movie is a Christmas classic in European countries and as well it should be.

The Slipper and the Rose 1976
I honestly don’t know how I stumbled onto this movie, though I have a feeling youtube played some part in it, lol. What I do remember is immediately sharing this with my sisters and all of us falling in love with this sweet, whimsical fairytale. Starring Gemma Craven (Cinderella) and Richard Chamberlain (Prince Edward), this is a musical retelling with a prince who adamantly wants to marry for love (against his parents and royal advisors’ wishes) and Cinderella who just lost her father and is forced by her malicious step-mother to live in the cellar and serve her and her daughters. A fairy godmother comes and helps Cinderella when she has to make dresses for her step-family and kindly the fairy godmother grants Cinderella a dress as well. Prince Edward and Cinderella fall in love at the ball, but even after he finds her when she runs away, the greatest obstacle still stands in their way: that Cinderella is not royal. This movie is beautiful set in the extravagant Georgian era. The music is really wonderful with my favorite song He/She Danced With Me (seriously go listen to it!) sung by the two leads after the ball. But really the best part of this musical is its witty, satirical comedy. There are so many hilarious and (a few unintentionally hilarious) moments, from the royal advisors singing about how to place the princesses at the dinner for the ball (to stop a war from happening, lol) to the prince’s dancing inside his ancestors’ burial mausoleum. It’s musical fairytale perfection.

Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella 1997
Speaking of musicals, Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella is well-known and loved with a stage production and three television film versions. I’ve seen clips of the first two (the ‘57 version stars Julie Andrews!) but the 1997 version is my favorite and the only one I’ve watched all the way through, countless times. Rogers and Hammerstein were musical giants having written the music for the wonderful productions of Oklahoma!, State Fair, and The Sound of Music. Their Cinderella movie is no different with fantastic songs like Ten Minutes Ago, The Prince is Giving a Ball, A Lovely Night, and Impossible; It’s Possible. I love these songs and have sang them around my house numerous times. Heck, I even hum the entire instrumental part of Ten Minutes Ago. This 1997 TV movie stars the talented Brandy (Cinderella), fabulous singer Whitney Houston (fairy godmother), Bernadette Peters (step-mother), and even Whoopi Goldberg (the queen). How to express how much I love, love this movie! Utterly sweet with cheeky humor, the story is much the same with Cinderella falling in love with the prince at the ball. The struggles of Cinderella decision to stay with her cruel step-family (she promised her father) are explored. I love the decision to do a fairytale with a multicultural cast (it’s about time, really). I love the crazy costumes, Cinderella’s lovely dress, and the ball scene is just wonderful.

Ever After 1998
What fairytale loving girl hasn’t seen this wonderful movie? I’ve seen this one quite a few times with its many airings on TV. This is a fairytale reinvented into a historical fiction story with no fairies or magic. In Renaissance France, Danielle loses her doting father and is dependent on the cold-hearted step-mother the Baroness. She eventually becomes a servant of the house and is often at odds with Marguerite, her mean step-sister, though Jacqueline (her other step-sister) is nicer to her. Prince Henry is busy with wild attempts to escape stifling palace life and he ends up stumbling upon Danielle (who also pummels him with apples when he steals her family’s horse, lol). Through a series of events, Prince Henry becomes enamored with Danielle who he thinks is a noblewoman. With the help of Leonardo da Vinci, she goes to the masquerade ball in an exquisite gown with butterfly wings. But Danielle’s secrets just might destroy the relationship she has with the prince. When danger comes after Danielle, she’s not waiting for any prince to rescue her. Drew Barrymore stars as the sweet yet independent Cinderella with Dougray Scott as her prince. I really like this “historical” retelling and have many moments I find funny and memorable. My only complaint is Prince Henry who comes off as a bit whiny to me (not sure if this was the writer’s fault or Dougray Scott). Despite any flaws, it’s a keeper.

Cinderella 2: Dreams Come True 2002

In what I call the Disney sequel tribulation of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the company produced a lot of direct-to-video sequels (prequels and midquels) of their classic animated movies. Obviously made for easy money, these movies had very little effort put into them. Cinderella 2 is a prime example of such bad movies with a film that was supposed to be what happened after “happily ever after”. What we got was Jaq and Gus deciding to write down Cinderella’s adventures since the first movie, dividing them into three segments. The first one revolves around Cinderella being at odds with Prudence who “runs” the castle. Cinderella doesn’t like the annoying traditions and feeling like a klutz. So she ignores Prudence’s rules and invites commoners to the ball. The king and prince don’t mind Cinderella’s decision though, which makes us all wonder what the struggle was even about. The next segment deals with Gus who wants to be more help to Cinderella – so the fairy godmother turns him into a human. But he’s still being chased around by the palace cat, Pom Pom. Gus learns to accept himself and goes back to being a mouse. Well, nothing changed there. Thankfully. The final segment revolves around Anastasia falling in love with a kind, quiet baker. Her mother doesn’t like him and Anastasia takes Cinderella’s example to find her happy ending and get her man. Overall, these shorts aren’t the worst out there and will easily entertain young girls. But the quality and story can’t be to be compared to the original Disney’s Cinderella which is a bit disappointing.

Tell me if you’ve seen and liked (or disliked!) any of these versions. Or if you’ve seen one I haven’t, I’d love to hear about it. Next Wednesday will continue with ten more versions...


  1. I vaguely remember watching The Slipper and the Rose. At some point I should watch it again. Just because. :D Oh, and I love Ever After. It's oh-so-charming. Fun list, Faith!

    1. Thanks Rissi. :D The Slipper and the Rose is definitely worth a re-watch. After writing this I felt like re-watching a whole bunch of these, lol.

  2. My sister just told me about your blog and I've thoroughly enjoyed reading your Cinderella posts. :) Excellent job!! Btw, since you're posting on Cinderella of late, I thought you might be interested... I'm actually hosting a Cinderella party/blogathon the first week in January on my own blog here: http://ladyofanorien.blogspot.com/2015/12/grand-new-years-party-reveal.html

    If you'd like to join in (or even just come a-visiting), I'd love to have to have you! ;)

    1. Thanks Heidi! I appreciate the kind words. The Cinderella party/blogathon sounds like so much fun! I'll definitely join in!!

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  4. Sorry about the double there... I hit 'back' and it ended up posting my comment twice. :P


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