Walt Disney had wanted to produce a film based on the Uncle Remus stories for some time. It was not until 1939 that he began negotiating with the Harris family for the film rights, and finally in 1944, filming forSong of the Southbegan. The studio constructed a plantation set for the outdoor scenes inPhoenix, Arizona, and some other scenes were filmed inHollywood. The film is predominantly live action, but includes three animated segments, which were later released as stand-alone television features. Some scenes also feature a combination of live action with animation.Song of the Southpremiered in Atlanta in November 1946 and the remainder of its initial theater run was a financial success. The song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" won the 1948Academy Award for Best Original Songand Baskett received anAcademy Honorary Awardfor his performance as Uncle Remus.
Since its original release,Song of the Southhas remained a subject of controversy. Some critics have described the film's portrayal ofAfrican Americansasracistand offensive, maintaining that theblack vernacularand other qualities are stereotypes. In addition, the plantation setting is sometimes criticized as idyllic and glorified. Because of this controversy, Disney has not releasedSong of the Southon anyhome videoformat in the United States. Some of the musical and animated sequences have been released through other means, and the full film has seen home video distribution in other countries. The cartoon characters from the film have continued to appear in a variety of books, comics, and other media. The Disney theme park rideSplash Mountainis based on the film.