Saturday, December 27, 2008

Disney and me

I never liked Disney growing up. Thanks to TCM, and their month of "Disney family classics" on Sunday afternoons this December, it's more obvious why. One of the big helps in that regard is the documentary on the Disney live-action movies, airing one more time at 10:30 AM ET on December 28.

The documentary deals with the earlier Disney live-action movies, starting in 1950 and going through the period when Michael Eisner took over at Disney. It makes the point that after Walt Disney died, the people left at the studio didn't really know what to do. They wanted to do what Walt would have done, but it turned out that Walt never stayed in one place doing the same thing. Instead, he was constantly trying to innovate, or at least trying to keep the movies fresh. So what the studio ended up with was a bunch of bland, forumlaic movies.

I was born in 1972, several years after Walt Disney's death. As such, I didn't get to see most of the earlier Disney movies when I was young. Instead, my first two memories of Disney movies were Pete's Dragon and The North Avenue Irregulars. Having seen some of the earlier movies, especially 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on TCM, it's fairly easy to see that the quality was much better. The same holds true for the animated movies; I think the first one I saw was one of the Rescuers movies; these don't compare to something like Cinderella at all.

Watch the documentary for yourself. It's full of interviews with most of the surviving cast members from live-action Disney movies of the 50s through the 70s (probably the big exception is Julie Andrews, who played Mary Poppins). I'm a sucker for interviews with the old stars, so even though I hadn't seen a lot of the movies that are profiled in the documentary, I still found it quite enjoyable.

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