Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy Anniversary 101 Dalmatians!

One Hundred and One Dalmatians (often abbreviated as 101 Dalmatians) is the seventeenth animated feature film produced by Walt Disney. It was originally released to theaters on January 25, 1961 by Buena Vista Division. It is based on the novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. Today marks the anniversary of its release!

The production of the film signaled a change in the graphic style of Disney's animation. This occurred with the introduction of Xerography which eased graphic reproduction requirements, but at the price of being unable to deviate from a scratchy outline style because of the new (and time and money saving) technology's limitations, recognizable by its thick black lines. Since the line would not have fit the "round" Disney drawing style used until then (with the exception of Sleeping Beauty), a more graphic, angular style was chosen for this and subsequent films. Rotoscoping, a technique formerly used for tracing live action human characters into animated drawings, became less important.

The technology change also happened when Disney cut its animation department after the economical failure of the very expensive Sleeping Beauty,
resulting in a reduction of staff from well over 500 to less than 100 and fewer resources put into the movies. Walt Disney, who at this point had started to direct his attention more towards television and his Disneyland amusement park and less on his animated features, disliked this development, but his next three animated films, The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book and The Aristocats, were all xerography films. All animated films since Disney's death use xerography. The "sketchy" graphic style would, however, remain the norm at Disney for years until the technology improved prior to the release of The Rescuers to allow a softer look. In later animated features the Xeroxed lines could be printed in different colors.

Unlike many other Walt Disney animated features, One Hundred and One Dalmatians features very few songs, only three, with just one, "Cruella De Vil", playing a big part in the film (ironic, considering that Roger was a professional songwriter). Even this song isn't sung in one setting (a scene between Cruella and Anita splits it into two parts). The other two songs are "Kanine Krunchies Jingle" (sung by Lucille Bliss
, who voiced Anastasia in Disney's Cinderella), and "Dalmatian Plantation", of which only two lines are sung as the film's closer. The MPAA was close to re-rating this movie due to the new criteria about smoking.

Some Interesting Trivia:
  • Several of the characters from Lady and the Tramp (1955) can be seen in a pet shop window during the twilight bark sequence and when Pongo and Perdita fight the Baduns, the same sounds in the background are from the scene that Tramp fights the three alley dogs.
  • Cruella De Vil was designed as a manic take-off on the flamboyant actress Tallulah Bankhead, as well as some of her personality quirks.
  • This was the final film for animator Marc Davis. After animating Cruella De Vil in this film, Davis went to work for WED Enterprises, designing for such Disneyland rides as the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • Quite a few liberties were taken in bringing the book to the screen. In the original story, the two Dalmatians who ran across England to rescue their pups were named Pongo and Missis Pongo, or just plain Missis; Perdita was a stray whose own puppies had been sold, and who was taken into the household to help wet nurse Missis' fifteen puppies. In the film, their owners are named Roger and Anita Radcliffe; in the book, they're Mr. and Mrs. Dearly, no first names given. The book also features two Nannies (Nanny Cook and Nanny Butler) to the film's one; Jasper appears under the same name in both versions, but Saul is changed to Horace for the film; and Tib, the book's heroic gray tabby female, is transformed into an orange-colored tom.

Featured in this blog entry is Roger & Anita with Pongo & Perdita ("Tangled Up Romance") sculpted by Kent Melton, a Numbered Limited Edition (NLE) of 1,000 which was a 2006 Gold Circle Exclusive. Other WDCC releases from this film can be seen in the One Hundred and One Dalmatians Image Gallery section of the website.


Babette said...

And don't forget the DVD comes out March 4th!

Duckman said...

Looking forward to it. We missed it when it came out on DVD the first time, so want to be sure and pick up this time around.

Thanks for the reminder Babs!