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~ The Coachman's most famous quote to Honest John Worthington Foulfellow and his partner Gideon about his crimes.
The Coachman is one of the main antagonists of Disney's 2nd full-length animated feature film Pinocchio, which is based on the 1883 Italian novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by the late Carlo Collodi.
He is an evil and greedy old man who turns naughty boys into donkeys and sells them off for slavery whilst making himself a profit.
In the original film, he was voiced by the late Charles Judels, who also played Stromboli in the same film. In Pinocchio's Daring Journey, he was voiced by Ray Templin, who also played Stromboli in the same attraction.
The Coachman is the owner of Pleasure Island, an amusement park located on a remote island. A seemingly kind and charitable gentleman, he takes naughty boys to said island where they would be allowed to engage in many risk behaviors such as smoking, drinking and fighting without having to worry about adult supervision.
As the boys continued to engage in this misbehaviour, the boys would fall victim to the curse of this seemingly innocent amusement park, gradually beginning to transform into donkeys. The Coachman and his henchmen would then gather the boys to ship them away to salt mines and circuses in exchange for profit.
To that end, the Coachman hires Honest John and Gideon (who were both deeply frightened of him) to lure such boys (such as Pinocchio) into his sinister trap, telling them that they will not need to worry about the authorities as the boys will not return as themselves and will therefore not leave behind any evidence that they had ever been to Pleasure Island. He is shown to be served by a group of silent and mysterious hooded ape-like creatures who lurk in the shadows.
Fortunately, Pinocchio was able to escape Pleasure Island after Jiminy Cricket alerted him what he was planning to the boys and alerted him of the situation, though not before developing donkey ears and a tail. Lampwick was transformed into a donkey and was presumably captured by the Coachman to sell into slavery. The Coachman was never seen again after this.
The Coachman is among the most sinister and diabolical Disney villains with wholly no redeeming qualities, partly by his actions and his pleasure in torturing children for wealth. He entices children to run away and misbehave to their heart's content all whilst knowing this will lead them into his hands. He was capable of politeness for convince people to follow him in his plan, as seen with Honest John. Even then, this becomes overshadowed by his sadistic way of doing so and lack of remorse for his various crimes.
Like most Disney villains, the Coachman is outright manipulative and delightfully sadistic, enjoying other people's pain. He is also shown to be very cruel, heartless and unsympathetic, whipping his minions and also selling young boys that come to his island into slavery so that he can make money off of them. He enjoys their pain and justifies his action by claiming their slavery as (according to him) payment for their bad behavior displayed on Pleasure Island despite him encouraging said behavior in the first place.
As horrible as he is, when Honest John shows him the "abundant" amount that Stromboli paid them for Pinocchio, he seemingly feels that the duo have been deceived on this matter, perhaps explaining why he offers them as much in comparison to help him pick up boys to lure to Pleasure Island. However, this is possibly out of pragmatism, in order to secure their services. Outside of this, he shows no compassion for anyone as even if he did care enough about them to be upset that they got cheated, he shows that he is much worse than whoever scammed him. This makes the one time when he shows any standards invalid.
QUIET! You boys have had your fun. Now, pay for it.
~ The Coachman to the boys on Pleasure Island.
And what's your name?
~ The Coachman to each boy.
Well, how would you blokes like to make some REAL money?
~ The Coachman to Honest John and Gideon.
Give a bad boy enough rope and he'll soon make a jackass of himself.
~ The Coachman after bringing the boys to Pleasure Island.
I'm collecting stupid little boys.
~ The Coachman explaining his plan.
Okay, you'll do. In you go! You boys'll make nice price. All right, next.
~ The Coachman to one of the donkeys.
Take him back! He can still talk.
~ The Coachman with one of the boys that can still talk.
His character may have been created as a contrast to the Blue Fairy, given rather than teach the boys to behave better as she does, he simply punishes them for their misdeeds. Some fans have speculated that he is a magical creature like her, but this is only speculation.
The Coachman doesn't get punished for his actions in the film, however he does get his punishment in the Super Nintendo Entertainment System video game version of Pinocchio by getting kicked off a cliff to his presumed death by Pinocchio.
He, unlike the Coachman (or Little Man) from the original book, did not mutilate any of the boys (though he was abusive towards them, and was willing to put many of them through deadly situations by selling them to the salt mines). Another difference is that this version was large and more intimidating, even if at the beginning he looked just as a kindly old man. Otherwise, he is the character with less changes from the book.
It is possible that he keeps the donkeys who can still talk as his own personal slaves - given that the animals driving his carriage as he is taking the boys to the ferry are donkeys. This makes even more sense given he did keep them as his slaves in the original book.
Originally, the Coachman was going to notice Pinocchio and Lampwick (who was intended to join Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket) trying to escape from Pleasure Island, sending his goons after them. However, they just capture Lampwick. Afterwards, the Coachman was going to hire Honest John and Gideon once more to bring Pinocchio so "the law does not find out about his business", which would ultimately result in the duo's arrest.
The Coachman is among several Disney villains who conduct money-making operations by abducting and harming (or threatening to harm) children, along with Madame Medusa, and Bill Sykes.
From all the antagonists in Pinocchio, the Coachman is so far the only antagonist who never interacted with Pinocchio formally as for him he was just one more boy from all the other boys he captured (not counting their interactions in deleted concepts or in the video game).
The Coachman might not be human. Some possible hints at this being the demonic face he makes when revealing his plan, his shadowy minions who may not be human either and the fact that he has four fingers on each hand while every other human characters in the film has five. The Coachman could very well be a demon in disguise or at least has access to magic since he is clearly responsible for the transformation of all the boys who went to Pleasure Island.
In folklore, demons actually lure in victims into damnations by playing off their desire for a quick and easy to pleasure, just as the Coachman does.
In the original story, the donkey transformation is actually caused by a disease that affects people who never study (in Italian culture, the donkey is symbolic of ignorance, stupidity and goofiness) and take roughly five months. The Coachman has become a millionaire by selling children for the donkey trade.
Charles Judels voiced the Coachman with a Cockney accent instead of an Italian one like Stromboli to make a difference.