Tuesday, December 23, 2014
ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS (1961)
(January 1961, U.S.)
In the vast array of movies that I've been posting since launching this blog almost five years ago, there haven't been a whole lot of animated films, be they the modern musical kind, the computer-generated animated kind or even the legendary classics - top reason being, as you all know by now, that I don't particularly care for musicals. This perhaps, is why ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS is my favorite classic animated Disney film of all time, though it can be argued that there's a song, or two here and there. Besides, how can you resist an animated film filled with a whole bunch of cute, spotted puppies (that's the real soft side of me talkin' now!).
And yet, behind all of the cuteness that surrounds this great film is the element of pure evil in the character of Cruella De Vil who takes great pleasure in slaughtering adorable animals for the sole purpose of wearing them as coats (hey, I'm not exactly an anti-fur advocate, but even that seems totally extreme to me!). This, by the way, is one real ugly bitch with cheekbones that stick out at least ten inches from each side of her face...
By the way, she's identified as Anita's old school chum, but really, I'm seeing a major age difference here between the two women! Exactly what kind of school were they at together?? And exactly what sort of car does Cruella drive that enable her to repeatedly drive at top speed in thick snow without getting stuck or stranded?? Ah, only in a Disney movie!
Let's remember now, that this is a children's film and responsible parents don't tell their kids exactly what Cruella De Vil wants to do with all those puppies. We simply tell them that she's the bad one in this movie and she simply wants the puppies for herself (at least that's what I told my son when I first showed him this film at the tender age of two!). This also, unlike many of the other Disney animated films, is not exactly attempting to teach a valuable lesson here. It's a pure adventure film with enough laughs, excitement and rich animated colors and images to keep even mom and dad happy! Cruella is also the kind of woman you truly want to see suffer in the end because of her downright meanness! The two fools...idiots...imbeciles that she hires to kidnap and kill the puppies, Horace and Jasper, are also a treat to watch because of their downright...well, dumbness! The real pleasure for me in watching this film, though, is listening to the talents of Rod Taylor as the voice of Pongo, whom anyone of classic film appreciation, will know from great films like THE TIME MACHINE (1960) and THE BIRDS (1963), among others. All in all, this film is pure fun without having to deal with any real singing and dancing, and for a guy like me, that's what I call pure Disney magic!
Now, a few brief words about the 1996 live action film of ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS - I don't own it, so clearly I'm not posting it. But I'd be lying if I told you that I thought it was a bad film. Glenn Close was the most priceless choice to play Cruella De Vil and she nailed it perfectly! And if I thought all those running and jumping puppies were adorable as animation, imagine how my heart melted when I got to watch them as live animals (even if they were, at times, computer generated). Like so many others, I probably even thought it would be great to actually own a dalmatian, despite their reputation for being real wild and rambunctious. But the real pleasure for me in remembering the live action film is where I saw it - Thanksgiving 1996, I was visiting family in Los Angeles and I went to see this movie at the famous El Capitan movie theater (movie palace, actually). If you know this theater (Richard K.!), then you know why anyone would go see anything at a glamorous theater such as this. If you don't know it, here's a great image of it...
Is it possible I have more of a fondness for the 1996 live action film than I'm willing to confess to?? Perhaps I'll need to watch it again and get back to you.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Cruella De Vil: "When can the puppies leave their mother? Two weeks? Three weeks?"
Roger: "W-w-we're n-not s-selling t-the puppies. N-n-not a sing...a single one. Do you understand?"
Cruella: "Anita, is he serious? I really don't know Roger."
Anita: "Well Cruella, he seems..."
Cruella: "Surely he must be joking!"
Roger: "No, no, no. I-I-I mean it. You're-you're not getting one. N-n-not one. And that's...that's final!"
Cruella: "Why, you horrid man! You...you...all right, keep the little beasts for all I care! Do as you like with them! Drown them! But I warn you, Anita, we're through. I'm through with all of you! I'll get even! Just wait! You'll be sorry! You fools! You...you idiots!"