(Answer: Pretty sure it’s those other 80 puppies you guys picked up in the country. HOO BOY.)
A few weeks ago we sat down with our friend Candace (who is an award-winning author and also one of my Patreon patrons) to watch One Hundred and One Dalmatians on a chilly Saturday in Chicago. Candace was excited to join us, and we were so happy to have her with us, but lo and behold – our first real technical difficulty took place. We recorded the Discussion successfully, but not the Commentary – the track stopped recording at about 18 seconds in, for some reason, and as there was no way for me to notice this until the movie ended, we were left without a Commentary track and without any audio for me to base the Observations post on.
After some debate and deliberation, the Fella and I decided that we’d try to make it up to the Patreon patrons another way at another time, but to continue on with the Odyssey as is.
That being said, we thought that Candace was spot on about her comments during our viewing of the film and while losing the audio was ruff, we’d like to have her back again sometime to woof philosophic about another film in the Disney Odyssey.
All right, all right. On with the show!
The Film: One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
- It was the 10th highest grossing film of 1961.
- The story is based on a novel by playwright and children’s writer Dodie Smith (best known for her book I Capture The Castle). The One Hundred and One Dalmatians was published in 1956, and its sequel, The Starlight Barking was pulished in 1967. Smith was inspired by her own Dalmatians, and their litter of unexpected puppies. A friend visited after the puppies were born and commented that they would all make such a lovely fur coat, which is what sparked the story for the novel.
- Barbara Luddy, the voice of Lady in Lady and the Tramp and Merriweather in Sleeping Beauty, was the physical live action reference for Nanny.
- Helene Stanley provided the live action reference for Anita (as well as Aurora in Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella).
- Mary Wickes was the live action reference for Cruella DeVil, and later went on to voice Laverne the gargoyle in Hunchback of Notre Dame.
- Cruella DeVil is #39 on the AFI Top 100 Villains List.
- The story was single-handedly adapted/directed by Bill Peet – making this the first Disney film with a singe story director.
- Art director Ken Anderson is responsible for the sketchy, sometimes unfinished style of the film. Walt hated it and never forgave Ken even up to his own death.
- In 1996, they released a live-action version of the story – starring Glenn Close as Cruella DeVil, Jeff Daniels as Roger, and Joely Richardson as Anita. The film was produced by (and had a screenplay by) John Hughes. There was a sequel released in 2000, and a stage musical adaptation produced in 2006.
- In the film, one of Perdita’s puppies seems to have been stillborn, but Roger gently massages it to start its breathing. This sequence was based on an event in author Dodie Smith’s life: In 1943, her Dalmatians, Buzz and Folly, presented her with not the expected seven puppies, but with 13. One of the puppies appeared stillborn until her husband, Alec Beesley, massaged it to life.
- Several dogs from Lady and the Tramp make cameos: Jock, Peg, Bull, and a bloodhound that looks like Trusty.
- The delightful jazz opening is very reminiscent of the jazz opening to Monsters Inc. – foreshadowing?
- Roger is a struggling composer… and a bachelor… how precisely does he afford a flat in Regent’s Park? The Fella: “He must be very well off. His parents have a couple of manor houses in the country. He’s living off their money.” He does have a pretty posh accent…
- Oh my gosh the part where the dogs all look like their owners and vice versa? It was so ingrained in my childhood psyche. As a kid, I kept wondering why real dogs didn’t look like their owners. It made no sense.
- I am amazed that Roger sees the clock (which Pongo just changed the time on) and then checks his watch, thus confirming that it doesn’t match up, and just shrugs and changes his watch. He doesn’t question it any further.
- As a sidenote, if you haven’t seen them before, click here to see one couple’s perfectly adorable re-enactment of the pond scene where Roger and Anita meet!
- Wait, why isn’t anyone at their wedding? The Fella: “BECAUSE ROGER’S FAMILY CUT HIM OFF! They didn’t approve of Anita and so they cut off Roger’s funds!”
- And then Pongo explains they’ve moved into a simple, modest home – maybe he’s right?! Maybe Roger is a minor lord in the English peerage and he’s now penniless because of TRUE LOVE?
- I love/hate that Cruella is immediately identifiable by her extremely loud car horn and terrible driving.
- Roger describes Cruella as Anita’s “dearly devoted old school friend.” What freakin’ school did Anita go to with Cruella? And why is Cruella so much older looking? What is the secret backstory???
- Cruella De Vil is undoubtedly the reason why so many modern day people of certain age groups are anti-fur. I fully admit that real and fake fur on clothes made me SUPER uncomfortable as a kid. It wasn’t until within the last few years that it stopped bugging me – Chicago winter makes furry boots and furry hoods on your parka a real nice commodity, doesn’t it?
- “Ee was a bloomin’ ‘ero, mum! A bloomin’ ‘ero!” Is Nanny supposed to be Cockney? She doesn’t…sound Cockney. She’s dropping H’s but she’s not actually using a Cockney dialect…*twitch*
- Cruella has to be related to Yzma somehow… I mean come on…
- The Twilight Bark is the most brilliant thing… it makes utter sense that dogs bark at each other not senselessly (as humans perceive) but as actual communication.
- And for those playing along at home, here are the dogs from Lady and the Tramp in their cameo which disregards basic geography (since Lady takes place in America and Dalmatians takes place in London):
- Sergeant Tibbs is one of the Fella’s favorite Disney Characters of all time. And to be fair, he is pretty amazing.
- I love that the puppies love watching TV – like, they’re easily satisfied just staring at the screen for hours. Not unlike human children.
- There’s a theme of people sprinkling their cigar and cigarette ashes on food and beverages: Cruella does it twice to Anita, Jasper does it at least once to Horace… pretty much the apex of grossness.
- “We’ll take them all home with us. Our pets would never turn them away!” Pongo, honey, you’re not the one paying for kibbles or cleaning up the poops… Good luck convincing them it’s a good idea.
- Jasper and Horace’s car is about to fall apart at any second… it adds a nice urgency to the car chases.
- Lucky: “And my tail is froze…and my nose is froze…and my ears are froze…and my toes are froze!” My brother and I grew up saying that whenever we were too cold.
- BEHOLD THE MAJESTIC COLLIE to the rescue!
- There are four cows, but only three are named: Queenie, Duchess, and Princess.
- The part where Pongo sweeps away the footprints in the snow always struck me as TOTALLY GENIUS as a kid – and it infuriated me that Cruella figures out the deception almost immediately.
- And then after all that, Roger sells his “Cruella” song and it plays on the radio and they’re rich? What happened to Cruella after the car crash? She must have disappeared into anonymity because how could she show her face in London again after that song became a radio hit. Yikes.
- And just like that, Roger’s next hit song basically wrote itself.
And just for fun… Here’s me with a dalmatian birthday cake. Epic.
Up Next: The Sword in the Stone!
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