While typing up my Wizard of Oz post the other day, trying to remember which animated version I used to watch, I came across a website that listed animated features by year.
For years, I've been trying to remember an animated movie I used to rent often from the video store as a kid in the late 80s, however all I could remember was that it was about a girl with a mean step-sister a la Cinderella-like, she met a Prince after some wacky hunt he took part in, and she got pushed down a well so he couldn't marry her.
It was honestly driving me crazy that I couldn't find anything about this movie no matter how much I searched online.
But thanks to to this site - The Animated Movie Guide - I was able to find it! I knew it was older, as it had an older style of animation to it.
The 1976 movie is called Maria d'Oro und Bello Blue, but I knew it as its English title Once Upon a Time. It was originally released in Germany, based on the German fairytal Frau Holle, but has been translated into a bunch of different languages.
It tells the story of a beautiful girl named Maria who is the only daughter of the wealthy Mr. Bottle and her best friend is her little blue dog named Bello Blue. When the mean Mary Lou and her con-artist mother arrive in town, they trick Mr. Bottle into marrying the mother, making Maria their servant girl.
One day, the Prince, who get separated from his crew during a royal hunting session, comes across Mary Lou bathing in a lake in the woods, with Maria assisting her (no, it's not as dirty as it sounds!). After seeing Mary Lou slap Maria and storm off to change, he approaches Maria, the 2 spend some time alone and before he leaves, he gives her a beautiful garnet necklace, saying it will bring them together someday.
Mary Lou spies the necklace on Maria and out of jealousy, she snatches it and drops it down the local well. Pretty soon however though, a proclamation is made that the Prince can marry a common girl and an announcement is made, calling for the girl with the garnet necklace to come to the king. Realizing, the necklace is her key to becoming queen someday, Mary Lou tricks Maria into allowing herself to be lowered into the well to retrieve it, however once she gets the necklace, Mary Lou lets go of the rope and lets Maria plummet down the well.
Something magical happens though and Mary Lou is thrown down the well also.
When the 2 girls land at the bottom, they are greeted by the Frog King who magically makes the necklace disappear, claiming it is now with Mrs. Holle. On their journey to find Mrs. Holle, they help several magical creatures and once they reach their destination, they learn the door to their realm has closed and they must wait for it to reopen. Maria offers to help with the chores while they wait at Mrs. Holle's (which includes feeding some pretty wacky singing, dancing bare-bottomed toddlers). Mary Lou tries to find her own way out, but ends up returning to Mrs. Holle's, where she sends them both back.
Upon their return, in front of the entire village, Mrs. Holle declares they will both get what they deserve for their reward, which puts Maria in a lovely wedding gown as the Prince approaches her and whisks her off to his castle, while Mary Lou is left in rags and succumbs to marrying the local cobbler.
Here's the 5 minute condensed version of the movie, however unfortunately I can't seem to find an English version of it online (this one is in Spanish, but even if you don't speak Spanish, you can still get the idea just by watching).
You have no idea how incredibly THRILLED I am to have finally found this again - I've honestly been looking for well over a decade, if not closer to 20 years! I found you can rent it on Netflix or purchase on Amazon, which I fully intend on doing so in the near future, as I would love to share this movie with any daughters we have someday!
Also, don't forget to enter in my 1st Blog GiveAway! I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card to celebrate 5 years this month since I started playing World of Warcraft. All entires must be received by Noon (CST) on Wednesday, May 26, as the winning entry will be picked at random and announced as part of that day's Warcraft Wednesday post! Click here to read the details and how to enter!