One great big ONEderful motion picture.
When the wicked Cruella De Vil is denied the chance to buy 15 Dalmatian puppies, she arranges to have them stolen; she wants them for their fur. It’s a testament to Disney’s talented animators that the budget cuts forced on this film limited them only to a certain degree; the backgrounds may look a bit stale, but the characters are lively. This is a very good film for children in particular; they will love all the cuddly puppies and root for them as other animals form a crack team to try to break them free from Cruella’s thugs. The story is unremarkable, but the music is good, there’s a lot of humor, some tension – and Cruella is a deliciously evil lady.
1961-U.S. Animated. 79 min. Color. Produced by Walt Disney. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, Hamilton Luske, Clyde Geronimi. Novel: Dodie Smith. Music: George Bruns. Voices of Rod Taylor (Pongo), Lisa Davis (Anita), Cate Bauer (Perdita), Betty Lou Gerson (Cruella De Vil/Miss Birdwell), Ben Wright, Fred Warlock.
Trivia: Cruella De Vil was allegedly based on Tallulah Bankhead. Followed by a video sequel, 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure (2003), and remade as 101 Dalmatians (1996).
BAFTA: Best Animated Film.
Last word: “Disney insisted that all scenes involving human characters should be shot first in live-action to determine that they would work before the expensive business of animation was permitted to start. The animators did not like this way of working, feeling it detracted from their ability to create character. […] [Later, the animators] understood the necessity for this approach and in retrospect acknowledged that Disney had handled things with considerable subtlety.” (Christopher Finch, “The Art of Walt Disney”)