Pinocchio was Walt Disney's second animated feature, after the colossal success that was Snow White (1937). It marked a major leap forward for animation as Walt threw money at the project to the extent of nearly destroying Walt Disney Studios. It didn't help that the outbreak of World War Two in Europe screwed up Pinocchio's essential international box-office haul. It also didn't help that Disney complained publicly that WWII had screwed up Pinocchio's essential international box-office haul. Oh, Walt.
Pinocchio is a masterpiece in its visuals, its animation, and in the pacing and composition of certain scenes. Its only real problem is, well, Pinocchio himself. A tabula rasa at the beginning, our living puppet "learns better" by being punished for sins he doesn't understand in the first place. He's essentially a void in the hands of an angry God.
Much of Pinocchio now plays like a horror movie of unintended consequences and massive punishment for minor sins. Have a whim to run away and join the circus instead of going to school? Now you've been kidnapped and put in a cage! Want to play hooky from home and school and maybe smoke a cigar? Now you've been turned into a donkey and shipped off to the salt mines! And you know what happened to your father, his cat, and his goldfish while they were looking for you? They got eaten by a goddam whale!
Seriously, the EC supernatural revenge comic books of the 1950's have nothing on Pinocchio. The movie climaxes with a magnificent sequence set inside and outside the giant whale Monstro. It's a terrific 15 minutes or so, brilliantly animated, visualized, and paced. These are the moments we look to Pinocchio for. The morals, not so much. Highly recommended.