Review? 1970s – 1989s Disney Classics

The Movies

What Can You Expect?

  • A Post on Each Movie
  • A Summary About The Movie
  • Opinions
  • Fun Facts About the Production, Success and Influence
  • A Ranking out of 10 on How Much I Enjoyed It.
  • A Ranking out of 10 on How It Fairs against other Disney Movies from the     same era.

Bonus:

  • At the end of every Era, a list of My Favourites and Less Favourites.
  • Table of Ratings.
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Review? 1950s – 1967s Disney Classics…The Winners, The Losers and Final Thoughts.

Thoughts on this period…of Disney History.

This is where I felt the princess movie grew into the art form it is today. Both Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are incredibly beautiful films. They are superficial without a shadow of a doubt, but they started the groundwork for our future Princess movies. They show darkness, hope and deep messages. They intricately crafted interesting and refreshing stories. They made good music and beautiful scenes of animation. It is such a shame to see that Sleeping Beauty was the last Princess for 30 years because of the reaction to the film. I am glad there was a courage to do a film like Sleeping Beauty.  It has a distinct style that influence positively on the future of films.  For me, this era has a lot of highs and downs. There is one good movie, followed by just “an okay” one.  A lot of these movies in this era are just “average”. They don’t go out of their way to be offensive or terrible. They exist. They created some beautiful songs and looks, but here is where the substance lacked.

MOVIE PERSONAL SCORE ERA SCORE
CINDERELLA 7/10 7.5/10
ALICE IN WONDERLAND 3/10 5/10
PETER PAN 3/10 5/10
LADY AND THE TRAMP 6.5/10 6/10
SLEEPING BEAUTY 8/10 8/10
ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIANS 6.5/10 5.5/10
THE SWORD IN THE STONE 7.5/10 6/10
THE JUNGLE BOOK 4.5/10 5/10

How did They Die….by Falling?

  • The Evil Queen; whose hillside was struck by lightning – Snow White
  • Willie the Giant; whose beanstalk was cut down – Fun and Fancy Free
  • Lumpjaw; who was swept over a waterfall – Fun and Fancy Free
  • Lucifer; who is chased by Bruno out of the window – Cinderella
  • Hook; who falls off the top of sail to be eaten by the crocodile – Peter Pan
  • Maleficent; stab by the sword and falls over the cliff into fire – Sleeping Beauty

My Favourites of the Era.

  1. Cinderella

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Sweet morals with beautiful animation wrapped in some big characters and enchanting music. What is to hate?

2.The Sword in the Stone

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A story that teaches it pays to do your work and be smart. Plus, who doesn’t love Archimedes!? Who…what?

  1. Sleeping Beauty

2

Is this a surprise? I think not. Maleficent is one of my favourite villains. She is not my favourite of all time It gave us a hugely stylish film with great characters, depth to a villain and spawned a live action movie I adore.

My Least Favourite Movie

Tie: Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.

It’s not like these films are terrible or boring. It is just not the best adaptation of the source material I’ve seen. I have seen this story done with better creative flair than this. The animation is grand but the music, story and characters all leaving us a little emptier. We leave these films desiring more.

The Best of the Era

  1. The Jungle Book

9

A film that really understood how a music can make a film.

  1. Lady and The Tramp

10

A movie that really triumphs with developing a moving story of class with dogs.

  1. Sleeping Beauty.

Doubt it could have been anything else. Just look at it.

Review? The Jungle Book

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SPOILERS

What is it about?

The Jungle book follows the story of Mowgli, a child raised by wolves in the Indian Jungle. He is hunted by a tiger Shere Khan, while those around him try to return him to his own people. We follow a musical adventure through misadventure, encountering a range of colourful beasts of the wild. Mowgli is foolish and easily tricked down many paths before ultimately, being seduced by a pretty Indian girl to return to safety.

Opinions

I have not read The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. I can not base my opinions too much on how accurate this story is to the novel. I have seen the recent adaptation of the Jungle Book by Jon Favreau. I thought that was okay like this movie but didn’t enjoy a lot of the casting/voice acting choices nor the ridiculously bad singing. I think Jungle book is an alright movie. There are very few things that actually move this film forwards. This can be said for the remake as well. The tiger is the only reason why we have a story. Otherwise, there is almost nothing to entertain or tell in this film. We are given a character who spends most of the movie being dragged around, being annoying and getting into situations he needs to be saved from. He is the damsel in distress. We are given bright colours and fun songs, interrupted with occasionally whinging. It is not like this or the remake Jungle Book are bad. There is just no substance. It doesn’t take you on an emotional journey. It doesn’t allow for you to invest. It doesn’t grow the character in any interesting ways. I think the overall problem with this version of the Jungle Book is it is too simple. It has no variety to offer. It gives us a couple of songs that are fun and enjoyable. However, when all is done and said, you won’t really remember the substance of the movie. It is worth pointing out at this point, it was intentionally that the film was made like this. The film edited a lot of those dark parts from the book out and with it, destroyed the substance of what could be a good story.

Fun Facts:

  • Based on the The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.
  • Early versions of the screenplay and soundtrack followed Kipling’s work more closely with a dark tone. Disney did not want this in his family film and replaced the lead writer and composer.
  • Bill Peet did the original treatment to Jungle Book, causing such a disappointment that Walt Disney was heavily involved.
  • Peet had decided to follow the dark tone and make the story more straightforward by moving the Man Village to the end of the story. He also created two original characters – the girl and Louie. Louie was originally less comical and was trying to enslave Mowgli.
  • The film was released 10 months after Walt’s death.
  • Produced with 4 million budget, the film was a massive success; finishing in 1967 as the fourth highest grossing movie of the year.
  • Elements of the Jungle Book were recycled in Robin Hood due to the film’s limited budget. Theses were Baloo being the inspiration for Little John. The dance scene between Baloo and king Louie was simply rotoscoped for Little John and Lady Cluck’s dance.
  • Many animators of Aladdin, Lion King and Lilo & Stitch took inspiration from the design and animation of this film

Verdict:

  • Movie will be kept in DVD collection
  • 4.5/10 for personal enjoyment
  • 5/10 for overall era.

Review? The Sword in The Stone

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SPOILERS

What is it about?

The Sword in the Stone is the story of Arthur becoming King of England.  We begin with the death of the King, leaving no heir and a sword inside an anvil awaiting the right wise King to pull it out. Without no king, England falls into the Dark Ages. The audience meets an orphan boy, Arthur hunting with his foster brother. He is treated poorly by those who care for him and is scrawny and shoved aside. Despite the disgust he gets from his adoptive family, Arthur is eager to please and therefore, retrieves an arrow – meeting the wizard, Merlin. Merlin has seen the future and offers to be Arthur’s tutor. Merlin convinces his family to teach Arthur, while they focus on training the oldest son for the jousting contest to decide the next King of England.  Merlin first teaches Arthur about physics, but also how to rely on intellect over brawn to overcome situations. Arthur tells his adoptive father about the events of the day but is punished due to his disbelief. Merlin enchants his chore to take Arthur on another lesson. He teaches this time about looking before you leap. After the lesson, Merlin is accused of black magic and Arthur loses his right to squire his older brother at the jousting event.  Now being taught full-time by Merlin, Arthur dreams of flying and is transformed into a sparrow. However, he is attacked by a hawk and falls into the hands of Madam Mim who uses black magic and trickery.  She challenges Merlin to a wizard duel and cheats – but Merlin wins using knowledge over strength.  Due to a series of events, Arthur becomes the squire of his brother again; infuriating Merlin leaving the wizard to abandon him. During the contest, Arthur forgets his brother’s sword and pulls out the one from the anvil. Bringing it to the tournament, they recognize it and place it back – trying to disprove that Arthur was capable of doing it. Many try to pull it again and after Arthur attempts again, he is hailed the King.  Overwhelmed, Merlin returns to him and leads Arthur to his bright future.

Opinions

Internet opinions do not favour the Sword in the Stone highly. I can get why – it is the legend of King Arthur. Does this film do the story justice? Probably not. Does the story introduce kids to several moments in History? Yes – at most it will start a conversation and a history lesson. Heck, I think anyone wants a movie to start a topic with their kids or be able to introduce them to things in history. That’s why we have movies about the Wars and historic people so it is always in the mind of the youth. Is this a bad adaption of King Arthur? Probably. Do I hate on it? No way. It’s a whole bunch of nonsense, no corresponding scenes threaded together to make a movie but it is fun. If you don’t like one tone for very long, this is the movie for you. It is constantly shifting tones, adding sprinkles of humour at every bit. I love the “lessons” – this film actually focuses on giving core teachings to both the protagonist and the audience. Arthur grows a person – he takes interest in these things but also capable of standing up for himself at the end. He defies Merlin and says how important it is for him to do something for his family. This is the family who don’t treat him with any shade of kindness and yet, Arthur still adores and seeks their approval. He knows he has to work hard – by doing the dishes, and pay his dues. This core magnifies Merlin’s lessons. Plus, it introduces us to Archimedes. By far, one of the best owl characters since Bambi.  I think there was a period where most Disney films feature owls. I like this movie despite its flaws because it tries to have a good heart and message. It takes a source material with a light tone. While it might be the best telling of the story, it is a favourite of mine.

Lessons learned

  • Brain over Brawn – He is taught this twice in the film.  Arthur must use his wits to outsmart his adversity in the fish scene. He learns that not always strength will get you out of a situation. Arthur also see how to use your intellect to your advantage against someone who will take all the opportunities to be better than you. Madame Mi cheats, she lies and she thinks she is clever. Her confidence and shallow pride is her downfall. We learn that using your intellectual and knowledge against someone’s own flaws can outsmart then. She is so confidence and Merlin uses that pride against her. In this note, we also learn that “brawn” should be used in times when work is required of you.
  • Don’t try to use the easy way out of situations.  Following on from the top lesson, Merlin’s pride in his intellectual leads to Arthur’s downfall as well. Arthur’s willingness to do this dishes by hard work is undermine by Merlin’s enchantment. For failing to do his work, he is punished and loses something important to him. Arthur learns that if you want something or something is required of you, you can’t take shortcuts. You have to put in the effort and the work. His older brother puts in the training to become a jousting champion. Hard work can pay off and you need to know your responsibilities. Mi’s cheating is also the “easy” way out which leads to her defeat. It pays to serve your dues.
  • Look before you leap –  Arthur learns that he needs to think before he acts. He learns this by standing up for himself and being a squirrel. He defies Merlin (speaking without thinking), losing his companion. He also learns that charming the lady squirrel (doing without thinking) has consequences. You have to be careful of your actions and be prepared to face the fallout of them.

Fun Facts:

  • Based on The Sword in The Stone by T.H White
  • Arthur was voiced by three actors, leading to noticeable changes of voices between scenes.
  • The final animated film to be released before Walt Disney’s death
  • Sixth highest grossing film of 1963

Verdict:

  • Movie will be kept in DVD collection
  • 7.5/10 for personal enjoyment
  • 6/10 for overall era

Review? 101 Dalmatians

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SPOILERS

What is it about?

One Hundred and One Dalmatians starts with two lonely bachelors, Roger and his dog Pongo. Pongo longs for a mate and tries to set up his owner with Anita and her dog Perdita. Through a series of incidents, the two meet at the park, get tied together by their dogs and find love. Later on, Perdita gives birth to a litter of fifteen puppies and the family is visited by crazed fashionista Cruella De Vil. She offers to buy the dogs with the secret intention of turning them into a coat. When she is refused, she hires two men to steal the puppies. The Scotland Yard fails to find them, leaving it to the parents to use their connections. Eventually, a sheepdog, a horse and a cat track the puppies back to Cruella de Vil’s place.  Learning the horror truth of their future, the parents Pongo and Perdita come to the rescue.  Their friends assist with the escape – they soon realise that there are 101 puppies in total including their own. Willingly adopting all the puppies, they try to get back home. However, the dogs face the threat of the chase and the weather. As they try to get back to London in a moving van, Cruella and her henchmen give a rage filled chase. To their luck, they crash and become abandoned, letting the dogs escape successfully. Pongo, Perdita and the 101 puppies return home and Roger and Anita decide to keep all of them.

Opinions

One Hundred and One Dalmatians is a movie I want to love. Reflecting upon it before seeing it, I remember enjoying the song “Cruella De Vil” which is honestly one of those rememberable villain songs. I remember loving the puppies and the cuteness. However, after revisiting this film as an adult, I realise how much of this film is dead air. It has cute moments and one of my favourite all-time couple meetings. Yet, the story isn’t that great. This film sort of just happens and we never really get the great set-up or pay-off needed. As soon as the puppies are born, there is just an adversity. It comes out of nowhere and apart from her fashion desires, it means Cruella doesn’t make much of an antagonist. In saying this, this doesn’t mean I don’t like the film. It’s just a bit forgettable and therefore suffers from leaving any impressions on the audience. I believe the remake in 1996 was a lot better and did add a lot more “family” feel good to the story. The one interesting thing about 101 Dalmatians is how much of a backseat both Roger and Anita take to the story. Their relationship is completely developed off-screen and therefore we look solely from the perspective of the dogs. I enjoy and dislike this. The opening scene with Pongo surveying woman is both fascinating and amusing. It kind of gives an insight into the dog’s world.  But this time spent with the dogs means we lack any understanding why these would be the kind of people to adopt 101 dogs.  This film has one hell of a good song and not much else going for it.

The weird things

  • Who the heck wants to steal dogs, skin them and wear their fur as a coat? The fur on a Dalmatian is not particularly thick. It seems it would mostly be a skin coat which is creepier…Also, if she was willingly to do this, what the heck has she done in the past?
  • Not a note about this film – but watch The Simpson parody of this. “Two Dozen and One Greyhounds”. It is excellent and also has some great music!

Fun Facts:

  • Based upon the novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith.
  • The film uses Xerox photography to aid in animation. This technique saved money and time.
  • The film features 6,469,952 spots in total
  • The film only features three songs.
  • There is cameos of Peg from Lady and The Tramp in the pet store.

Verdict:

  • Movie will be kept in the DVD collection
  • 6.5/10 for personal enjoyment
  • 5.5/10 for overall era

Review? Sleeping Beauty

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SPOILERS

What is it about?

Sleeping Beauty tells the story of a princess cursed by her parent’s foolishness. We begin the story with the birth of the new Princess, Aurora and the proclamation of a new holiday for all the kingdom to attend.  Among the guests are three fairies, blessing the child with gifts of song and beauty. However, before the last fairy can gift the child, an evil fairy Maleficent appears to the shock of all. Unwanted and cast aside, Maleficent curse the child will touch a spindle and die on her sixteenth birthday.  Horrified, the fairies attempt to break the curse but are unable to but the last fairy, Merryweather softens it so Aurora will fall into a slumber and can only be awaken by true love’s kiss. The king orders the burning of all spinning wheels and they hide their daughter with the fairies in woods.  Years later, we are introduced to the Princess renamed Briar Rose, living with her three peasant ladies (the fairies). She goes to collect some berries so the fairies can arrange a surprise party and begins to sing, capturing the attention of the Prince.  They fall in love and he asks to meet her family. Meanwhile the fairies, unable to use magic, create a mess and resort to using their wands. While arguing over the colour of a dress, magic sparks draw the attention of Maleficent’s raven and reveals her location. Briar Rose returns to declare her happiness, only to learn about her royal heritage and return to the castle. Returning to her castle, Aurora is drawn by Maleficent to touch the enchanted spinning wheel and fall into slumber. In the meantime, Prince Phillip kidnapped by Maleficent learns that the girl he fell in love with is the princess and he will be locked away until he is old. The fairies release him, arming him with Sword of Truth and Shield of Virtue to stop Maleficent.  He succeeds in killing the dragon turned Maleficent and awakens Aurora, including all in the castle with a kiss.  The couple waltz away with an array of changing dress colours.

Opinions

Sleeping Beauty’s strength rely on a compelling, mysterious and downright dangerous villain. Maleficent is excellent from her brief moments on screen. She is captivating and intriguing. She exudes evil from her introduction in the castle to her end. She is cruel and you love how truly wicked she really is. Sleeping Beauty creates fascinating and charming side characters. The three fairies have distinct personalities and their interactions are both humorous but filled with heart. These characters give to life to a film that would otherwise be dull. Aurora is a filler character. She doesn’t do a lot except for what she has to. She is more passed around to avoid the curse. We spend so little on screen time with her that when she is cursed, we really miss the impact of it. The scene of Aurora being led to the curse is more interesting than her being in a deep slumber.  The action lies mostly with Prince Phillip and his defeat of Maleficent. It feels less a Princess story and more as story of valiant courage.  The main princess suffers under-development, outshone by better sidekicks. You remember this movie for Maleficent and the arguing of the three fairies over the dress colour. Everything else fades into the background. I love Sleeping Beauty for its rich and detailed backgrounds. It has bold choices and it is an enchanting film. You don’t love it for its love story but the laughs and horror contained within each scene.  However, one thing I do like that other Princess films didn’t do, is how the two love interests already have a history before their meeting again.

The weird things

  • The instant love – Oh, this is a common trope I’ll be driving home. They met, they dance and he is ready to throw his kingdom’s entire agreement for a pleasant girl. However, in saying these things – I actually have the least issues with their relationships. While the instant kiss of true love is a far reach. Prince Phillip willingly decided to throw aside his requirements of a kingdom for a pleasant girl. A girl beneath his stature. This means he was willing to look pass his duties and truly love someone for what they are – not what he had to do. This is interesting character. Furthermore, his willingness to meet her family and commitment instantly was a nice flare and touch. It grounds his character into reality.
  • Oh, but you had sixteen years to learn! The fairies are honestly my favourite thing about this film…But, they had 16 years to learn how to cook, clean and sow. They seem to doing a diet of no magic for so well, so long and then all the sudden, they have to rely on them. How the heck did they raise that baby? How is it even alive? They seem kind of thick.

My last thoughts

While it is interesting that this is the last Princess film for 30 years before the Little Mermaid. It doesn’t feel like it was the film that killed the Princess genre. It was a very good film. While not the “perfect” princess formula – it did create interesting side characters. It hit the right notes with the villain. It lacks the motive, morals and catchy songs of later “Princess” films. You can see how the beginnings of that formula happened in this film.

Fun Facts:

  • Based on The Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault
  • The last Disney adaptation of a fairy tale because of its initial mixed reception and under performance at the box office. The studio did not return to the genre until 30 years later with The Little Mermaid.
  • First animated film to be photographed in the Super Technirama 70 widescreen process.
  • Prince Phillip was the first Prince to have a name after the two Princes are never named in the films.
  • Sleeping Beauty made 5.3 million during its initial release against their 6 million production costs.
  • The film resulted the company in posting its first annual loss and there were layoffs in the animation department.

Verdict:

  • Movie will be kept in DVD Collection
  • 8/10 for personal enjoyment
  • 8/10 for overall era

Review? Lady and The Tramp

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SPOILERS

What is it about?

Lady and the Tramp tells the classic story of two different classes falling in love despite their differences. We begin the tale with the gifting of Lady, a cocker spaniel to her owners.  She enjoys a lavish and happy lifestyle, befriending neighborhood dogs until her owners start treating her differently. While learning why, Tramp is introduced to Lady’s life – a stray mongrel, always on the run from the dog catcher and living off scraps. He tells her the horrors of the upcoming baby arrival and tells Lady that she should expect to lose her place in the household. However, after the baby arrives, dog and infant bond easily. One day, left in the care of her owner’s aunt and her trouble-making cats, the cats trick the aunt into thinking Lady has attacked them. She buys Lady a muzzle, freaking out the dog and she flees, getting pursued by a trio of stray dogs. Tramp comes to her aid and they share a night together. Eventually Lady is taken by a dogcatcher and meets with Tramp’s crowd of dogs who claim he is no good.  She is taken home and when Tramp comes to apologise, she is too angry to care.  In the meantime, a rat enters the house and the two dogs try to kill the rat before it hurts the baby. Tramp knocks the crib and is seen as a wild dog, with the Aunt calling the pound and locking Lady away. Lady’s owners come home, releasing Lady and allowing her to show them the rat. Lady’s friends help rescue Tramp from the dog catcher. Tramp becomes a part of their family with Lady and him having their own puppies.

Opinions

I like Lady and the Tramp. Some like to say this film is dull or boring because nothing really happens. Yes, it is slow and it takes a while before the action builds up. But, it is beautiful to look at. The artwork and backgrounds of this movie feature almost a watercolour tone. Meanwhile, we are given the most iconic scene with the two dogs sharing a romantic dinner together. Is this the most realistic movie? No, but it has a sweet center. It tells a very classic story of two different personalities finding common group. The nice thing of this story is the growth in Tramp, more than Lady. Lady is a cute dog but she doesn’t serve much purpose. Tramp, however, is consistently redeeming his mongrel personality with kind and brave acts. When we are originally introduced to Tramp, he is rescuing his friends from the dog pound. He fights off the strays for Lady, frees her of her muzzle and kills the rat. They give him a lot of courage and bravery. However, he does also come off wayward and easily distracted. He is not always there for both his friends and Lady. I like this film because they tell the story well and with ease. While the beginning struggles to create any momentum, it does end on a high note. The film highlights humour, swagger and classic with an artistic flourish.  It’s not the best Disney film, but trust me – watch the opening gifting scene and you will fall in love with all the cuteness.

The weird things

  • How stereotypical racist can the two cats be? They are even called Si and Am. Their styles and portrays are so on the nose. However, in saying that, watching their introduction makes me laugh. The stereotypes hurt and sure, this will probably be very offensive to some people….But I take it with a grain of salt and just laugh at the outright ridiculous of the whole thing. If you are not easily offended, check out The Siamese Cat Song from this film….It’s pretty much the most racist Asian stereotypes you will ever experience. You can tell this film is from a completely different era.
  • Can we sit and talk about how’s Lady motivation for her dislike to Tramp is due to him…well, being a “Tramp”. Ironically, we use this word to dismiss and degrade woman. In this film, the “Tramp” is actually supposed to symbolise the fact that the dog is a vagabond who is a person who has no settled home. But watching this film now with the word shifting so much in culture, it gives a different meaning to this film. There is even a scene devoted to claim how many girlfriends he has had – making him what the modern use of “Tramp” is.  Can we attribute this film to shifting the meaning?!
  • The dog in the present box. I have seen this time and time again. I don’t know about you, but this is like dogs in sweaters – it seems almost so cruel.

Fun Facts:

  • Based on the story Happy Dan, The Whistling Dog by Ward Green
  • Joe Grant came up with the idea inspired by his dog and how she got shoved aside when they had a new baby.
  • The film’s opening sequence is inspired by an incident where Walt Disney presented his wife with a Chow puppy in a hat box.
  • Greene wrote a novelization of the film two years before the film, due to Disney’s insistence to get audiences to be familiar with the story.
  • Originally Disney was prepared to cut the spaghetti scene thinking it was not romantic enough and would look silly. It remained because Frank Thom animated the entire scene.
  • The first animated film done in CinemaScope.
  • Made 7.5million dollars during its 1955 release in the North American box office.
  • It was originally panned by critics saying the dogs had dimensions of hippos.

Verdict:

  • Movie will be kept in DVD collection
  • 6.5/10 for personal enjoyment
  • 6/10 for overall era