Friday, December 29, 2006

And to end 2006 with a huge smile, this great document sent by Jim Korkis with the following comments:

[This sheet of sketches from the 1940s were in the collection of Imagineer John Hench. They aren't Santa's elves but likely concept sketches for leprechauns for the Darby O'Gill and the Little People project Walt was planning. A friend sent me this copy thinking that it might be early concept sketches for the Gremlins project since I was finishing up the article for Hogan's Alley. Even though they aren't gremlins, it was a nice holiday gift and I thought I would share it with others.]

Happy New Year to you all!

Don't forget to check the blog on Tuesday, as I will make sure we start the year in the best possible way... with a mysterious project that involved Fred Moore.

Quite a few readers of the blog sent me emails about the Redux Riding Hood project.

Celbi Pegoraro sent me the URL of an article he wrote (in Portuguese) a while back on Animagic about that same subject and that clarifies, among other things that:

Jack and the Beanstalk was directed by Peter Tolan ("Larry Sanders") and seem to have stopped in post-production and that Three Little Pigs with a script by Frank Coniff seems to have been completed but never released, not even in festivals.

Jenny Lerew posted a comment that mentioned:

I freelanced some storyboarding on Three Little Pigs for Darrell Rooney (I was working at Turner feature animation development at the time, where I'd met Darrell). I believe Ricky Nierva, now at Pixar, and Scott Morse (also up there at Pixar) did freelance boards too (Ricky, who is a brillaint young designer, might have done the character designs as well--I'm not sure--can't remember).

I never saw the finished product, either, though--why Disney never released them is a mystery to me, but they were having a kind of rollercoaster of management at that time, and perhaps a new exec in charge couldn't see a venue for them. They were at one point supposed to be released on a home video(now it'd be a DVD, of course). I'd be surprised if they stayed unseen forever.

I can't remember what the "4th" film's about 10 years ago now."

For some odd reason, I mention the history of the Disney parks on this blog much much less often than stories about Disney animation and vintage Disneyana. However, I just discover two great blogs that will help you fill that gap (if you don't know them already):

Gorillas Don't Blog and Daveland are definitely making it to my list of permanent links.

Ub Iwerks' Fiddlesticks

As mentioned in a previous post, one of the blogs to which I make a daily stop is 2719 Hyperion. That blog recently posted a great article linked to Disney about the short Bimbo's Initiation, which I stupidely forgot to mention when it appeared. It's a really enjoyable post, which I encourage you to read until the end as it contains a nice surprise.

Through the comments that followed that post, I also discovered Ub Iwerks' short Fiddlesticks. I would encourage you to jump to minute 3:26 to understand why I featured it on this blog.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Great artwork from Bambi posted this afternoon by Stephen Worth on the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive blog.
This beautiful photo of Walt and Lillian is courtesy of Mark Sonntag, once again!

Mark wrote: "Here is a photo I just aquired from the San Francisco Examiner photo files. Photo touch up doesn't do LillianDisney justice, the interesting thing is, it has the date on the reversewith the published version attached."

Speaking of great photos of Walt, I would recomend you check both this post on CartoonBrew and this one on The Blackwing Diaries to discover two others.

Dewey McGuire was kind enough to send me scans, yesterday, of all the articles I wanted to read in Animato! issue 39.

One of these articles intrigued me due to its title: Redux Riding Hood - Disney's Forgotten Short. After having read it, I must admit that I am even more intrigued...

The article mentions 4 shorts of very good quality (at least 3 were of good quality according to the article - one was apparently cancelled because it was bad) produced by Walt Disney Television Animation (of all places! - Not that I have anything against the artists there, don't get me wrong, but I am a "purist" when it comes to animation and therefore like full animation or productions with strong scripts and high artistic values when it comes to limited animation).

One of the shorts, Redux Riding Hood, was so good that it was nominated for the Academy Awards in 1998. The other two (apparently good) shorts were Jack and the Beanstalk and Darrol Rooney's The Three Little Pigs.

I have not seen any of these shorts. Can anyone tell me more about them? Were they ever released on DVD or elsewhere? Who directed Jack and the Beanstalk? Have Jack and the Beanstalk and Darrol Rooney's The Three Little Pigs even been seen, even if just in the Festival circuit? Are those two as good as Redux Riding Hood?

Hake's new auction catalog is now online. It contains quite a few spectacular vintage Disneyana items, including this stunning Jose Carioca figurine from Zaccagnini, which was featured in Alberto Becattini's article about Zaccagnini in Tomart's Disneyana Update number 22.

I guess it's my missing Brazil which made me single out Jose to talk about this auction.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A few weeks ago, when I was in Paris, I picked up a copy of the art-book Loisel dans l'ombre de Peter Pan by Christelle Pissavy-Yvernault. Regis Loisel is the author of two extremely popular French graphic-novel series: La Quête de l'oiseau du temps and Peter Pan (a very dark, pessimistic version of the tale). Although I have been disapointed by the ending of the Peter Pan series as imagined by Loisel, I still admire his art tremendously and Loisel dans l'ombre de Peter Pan was a must-have for me this Xmas.

What made it even more so is the fact that Loisel has always been a Disney-enthusiast (and a serious collector of original Disney art), which led him to include in the book quite a few Disney-related documents.

You can see above one of his drawings combining Mickey and the "Fourreux" character from La Quête de l'oiseau du temps. Below is his attempt at creating a Disney comics when he was a kid (Donald and the vampires).

Loisel also acted as a concept artist on both Mulan and Treasure Planet, which explains this photo with Joe Grant and Hans Bacher.

Great document found by Mark Sonntag on ebay a few years ago which relates to the costs of the animated segments in Hollywood Party.
One must read article this morning on Ruth Patricia Shellhorn - Disneyland's First Landscaper by Wade Sampson.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Beautiful Xmas gift from Jim Korkis' collection:

[Here's an unusual photo from 1933. I never think of Walt posing with other celebrities although he often did in the Thirties. Also, it was my understanding that Walt wasn't necessarily a big fan of President Roosevelt so it is interesting to see him posing with Roosevelt's son who apparently is returning from a trip for a quickie divorce in Nevada. You'll notice that this is in Chicago where Walt was born.

I bet there is more to this story and maybe some of the readers of your blog can fill in some of the blanks. ]

Speak of an amazing memory! I got a call on Friday from my friend Sébastien Durand about the post from last week concerning Are Myklebust's question about Bertrand Lavier's scupltures. Sébastien called me to say that he remembered having seen the comics that served as inspiration to Lavier. Called Traits Très Abstraits, it appeared in the French book by Michel Mandry about the 50 years of Le Journal de Mickey.

I am almost certain that this comics was created in the '70s, not in 1947 as claimed by Lavier and that it is of French origin. I will try to get more information about this in the next few days, though.

I hope you all enjoyed a relaxing and very happy Xmas. There were quite a few exciting posts all around the web in the last few days. Here are the ones I believe should not be missed:

- I forgot to mention last week this excellent article by Wade Sampson called A Disney Family Christmas.

- The Xmas card on the left comes from a series of cards sent to Richard Huemer's father, Disney legend Dick Huemer. Richard Huemer posted those on his website last week. Jenny Lerew posted Ward Kimball's 1963 Xmas card on the Blackwing Diaries.

- In case you have not seen this yet, ASIFA's Animation Archives posted a scan of a great article from Life magazine about the Disney Studio during WWII.

- Also related to WWII is Michael Barrier's post from December 25.

- Finally, Michael Sporn's gives us scans of two excellent articles about Ub Iwerks as a nice Xmas gift.

Happy Reading.

Friday, December 22, 2006

(Image courtesy David Lesjak)

Merry Xmas to all of you. See you all on Tuesday...

From David Lesjak's collection: 1939 16 page Kay Kamen Christmas giveaway.

From Mark Sonntag's astounding collection comes this facsimilie of the Alice Comedies campaign booklet. If this is not the ultimate Xmas gift for a Disney historian, I wonder what is!

A question from Are Myklebust:

[The French artist Bertrand Lavier (1949 - ) has made a serial of artworks in different mediums he has called “Walt Disney Productions” (!!).

I found the following information on the Internet: “Bertrand Lavier: Walt Disney Productions, explores the tenuous realm between high art and the everyday. Lavier’s series, Walt Disney Productions, was inspired by a 1947 Disney cartoon that reflects a sophisticated play with the cliché of Modernism. The original cartoon, entitled, "Very Abstract Lines," shows Minnie Mouse defending modern art to a skeptical Mickey as they visit an art museum in which caricatures of Modernist painting and sculpture abound. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Lavier usurped the artworks pictured in the cartoon, enlarging them and further manipulating them in the form of Cibachrome photographs imprinted on aluminum, aquatints, black-and-white photographs, photogravures, inkjet on canvas, and three-dimensional polyester sculptures, continuing to find in this theme new and fascinating permutations. Removed from the intentionally ironic atmosphere of the comic strip, these artworks hover between formal elegance and out-of-whack surrealism.”

I am very sure that this art installations was inspired by a Mickey Mouse newspaper Sunday page drawn by Manuel Gonzales (probably from 1947) – and not by a “Disney cartoon”, but does anyone know anything more about this – and/or has a copy of this specific Sunday page?]

Are clearly has more imagination than I do. Would anyone (who can see the things I do not) be able to help him?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

From Mark Sonntag's collection come those two beautiful pages from the December 15, 1932 United Artist exhibitors book.

From David Lesjak's collection: Detail from a British Valentine and Sons Xmas card.

Two excellent things to read this morning: the post on 2719 Hyperion blog about Symposium on Popular Songs and, of course, Michael Barrier's review of Neal Gabler's biography of Walt.

There is another thing you might want to add to your "to do" list according to Tamu Townsend:

[Set the timer on your VCR/DVR, then tell your friends: The French documentary Walt Disney: Once Upon a Time, a companion to the similarly named museum exhibition that is nearing the end of its Paris run, is airing on CBC Newsworld across Canada on December 24 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT and again at 1:00 a.m. ET/PT. If we could, we'd already be lining up for the exhibition's arrival in Montreal on March 8; as it is, we'll content ourselves with devouring the hour-long special. ]

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I missed this extremely rare candy paper container from Germany last week on ebay, but wanted to at least share the images before Xmas.

La Bête Est Morte! is a graphic novel published in France in 1944. Written by Victor Dancette and Jacques Zimmermann and illustrated by Edmond-François Calvo it tells the story of WWII and the fall of Hitler using satirical animal characters.

The wolf on the original cover of this book was clearly inspired by The Big Bad Wolf, which lead to the Disney Studios asking for its design to be modified.

I have been contacted by David Calvo, grandson of Edmond-François Calvo, who is trying to write an article about the conflict between Disney and his grandfather. I was wondering if any of you would have material on the subject.

While researching the subject of Walt at Tivoli, I also found this great photo from the same visit that I enjoyed tremendously.
Walt at Tivoli

Walt visited Tivoli gardens in Copenhagen during a trip to Europe in 1958. A friend shared this video with me a while back and I thought you might like it. My only regret being that I wish it had sound.

From the collection of David Lesjak: Blank greeting card marked c 1937 Walt Disney Productions on the reverse.

Are's list of movies that contain strong connections to the Disney universe generated more feedback than I had received since the launch of this blog. I am attempting to summarize this feedback below.

Jen wrote:

[I can name a couple of other non-Disney films with Disney connections:

Forbidden Planet (1956): Disney animator Joshua Meador created animated special FX sequences for this film.

And a more modern connection: A Christmas Story (1983): During the town Christmas Parade, the big movie featured with characters is The Wizard of Oz. At one point, the winged monkeys all decide to attack a Mickey Mouse walking in the parade.]

Tinker Bell said:

[I'd like to add Bachelor Mother (1939) starring Ginger Rogers. She works in Merlin's department store which sells many toy Donald Ducks that are roaming around quacking. That toy duck features frequently throughout the film. Very cute film!]

Both Nancy Beiman and FoxxFur pointed out the special status of the movie Sullivan's Travels. According to FoxxFur:

[The use of Playful Pluto in Sullivan's Travels is significant and deserves elaboration: it's actually the entire justification for the film and the filmmaker.

The film was directed by Preston Sturges, a very famous and popular maker of comedies in 1941. The film is about a very famous and popular maker of comedies who seeks the justification of having created an important, worldly, serious film, which he wants to call O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Yes, the Cohen Brothers got the title of their movie from this). His bosses contend that he, the blessed-with-luck young man, doesn't know enough about being miserable to make an important film. He responds to this by setting out on the road to learn what it's like to be miserable.

Anyway it's a hilarious and brilliantly written film. In the end of the film he ends up in the chain gang and has basically lost all hope. The chain gang is lead into a church where the Disney short is played. The entire group breaks into uproarious laughter immediately and he, initially disdainful of the short, begins to laugh too. After he's rescued from the chain gang he says: "I'm not going to make O Brother, Where Art Thou! I'm too happy to make O Brother, Where Art Thou!" and he cites the simple but noble relief from the grinding existence of labor that the Disney short provoked in the cons. He then goes on to state in no uncertain terms that making funny movies which make people happy is just as important as making serious, important films on issues of the day. Sturges uses the Disney film to justify his entire career.]

Finally, I got this long and detailed email from Jeff Peterson about Babes in Toyland and Once Upon a Time:

[For your information, the role of Mickey Mouse in Laurel & Hardy's Babes in Toyland is actually performed by a small monkey in a costume. When Mickey walks, it seems like the monkey is hoping that the mousehead will fall off if he shakes it enough. The most amusing scenes are when Mickey boards a dirigible and starts dropping bombs on the bogeymen below, until his airship is shot down and he has to escape viaparachute. As for the three little pigs, these characters were played by dwarfs in costumes (humans, not primate).

As for Once Upon a Time, Walt Disney's name is mentioned throughout the film since Cary Grant's character is hoping to make a lucrative dealfor the services of a dancing caterpillar named Curly. As Bosley Crowther hints below, the audience never gets to actually see the caterpillar dance. As for the actor playing Walt Disney, we don't really get to see his face, which is a good thing, since the imperesonation is not very Disney-ish (and neither is the film).

Here are two contemporary reviews of Once Upon a Time which I found on the Internet:

VARIETY Film Review - April 26, 1944

One of the more novel scripts of the year, Once Upon a Time is certainly bizarre - and yet charming. It's unfathomable - and yet intriguing. It is certainly absurd - and yet boxoffice.

Once Upon a Time will certainly excite a national wave of conflicting theories on its merits. It certainly must have required considerable courage for Columbia to have undertaken a production that manifests so few popular ingredients that make for big b.o. Because of its central character, such as it is, Once Upon a Time is, actually, the story of- a caterpillar! A dancing caterpillar! One that dances only to "Yes Sir, That's My Baby!"

Once Upon a Time was originally a radio play called My FriendCurly, by Norman Corwin (from an idea by Lucille Fletcher Herrmann). It excited considerable comment in radio circles when it was produced on CBS, but its film version, because of a more extensive production starring Cary Grant and Jane Blair, bids fair to create an even greater word-of-mouth.

The film's leading "character," of course, is one that's unbilled -that would be Curly, the caterpillar. Curly is the pal of nine-year-old Pinky, and it dances when Pinky plays "That's My Baby" on his mouth-organ. When a flop Broadway producer learns of this phenomenon, he sees a chance to gain its possession and exploit it sufficiently so that he can salvage his theatre from the bankers. Gabriel Heatter hears about the dancing caterpillar and gives it nationwide prominence in discussing it on his radio program. Then follows a deluge of offers to exploit the insect - and there's even a scene of Walt Disney, over long-distance phone from Hollywood, offering $100,000 for it.

The basic story may have difficulty in "reaching" an audience at first, but if one can accept the sheer fantasy for what it's worth, it can very well be excellent entertainment. There's considerable charm in the youngster's attachment for the insect through the close link that existed in the original radio play between the theatrical agent and the boy (in the film the agent is the theatrical producer) is somewhat lost. And that final reel - when the youngster has been overcome with grief over the loss of his caterpillar, only to learn that it wasn't lost at all but had since become a butterfly - is an exercise in screenfantasy.

Both Grant and Miss Blair may be starred in this film, but they must bow in performance to others not equally billed. Namely, Ted Donaldson, the youngster, who, in his first film appearance, is what publicity departments would call a find James Gleason, William Demarest and HowardFreeman are among the major supporting players who do okay.

That title really tells it. There's a foreword that suggests to the audience, in effect, to pull up a chair and relax. It's the kind of suggestion that had best be taken literally.

NEW YORK TIMES Film Review - June 30, 1944- by Bosley Crowther

Have you ever seen a dancing caterpillar? Of course not, and no one else has - except Cary Grant and all the people in Once Upon a Time, at the Music Hall. For it is such an incredible freak of nature, conceived in a whimsical vein, that is the fabulous object of attentionin this genial Columbia film. And it is the imagined reaction of people to it that forms the content of this innocent romance.

The radio first played this whimsy. "My Client Curley" was the title then, and Norman Corwin derived it from a story by Lucille FletcherHerrmann. Columbia has dressed it up a little to stretch it out on the screen, but the story is basically similar to that played on the radio. It is the story of a theatre impresario who, facing financial ruin, discovers a little boy who has a caterpillar that can dance. Immediately he sees possibilities in exploiting this fantastic worm and puts on a ballyhoo campaign in order to run up the price to Walt Disney. But he doesn't reckon on the feelings of the youngster, and it is when he tries to take the wonder from the boy that beautiful illusions are shattered and the callous showman gets a kick in the teeth.

The wide possibilities for satire in this story are casually skipped, except for a few gentle passes, in favor of wistful romance. It is not the flashy aspects of a dancing caterpillar that are dwelt upon so much as the tender significance of this wondrous worm to a boy. And, in this, the story follows a rather obvious and conventional line, familiar instories relating adults, children and animals. The writing, too, is only moderate in its qualities of tenderness, but a charming twist, based on nature, gives the climax a poetic lift.

Mr. Grant is, as usual, archly jocular though most of his role as the theartre man, and James Gleason plays his Man Friday with creased, suspicious eyes and tongue in cheek. But it is the youngster, little TedDonaldson, who is most appealing in this film, and his round face and boyish treble do a lot to give it charm. Janet Blair has a minor assignment, which she handles adequately, and William Demarest gets little opportunity to do his best by a skeptical newspaper man. Needless to say, the caterpillar is never given a chance to perform.]

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

From David Lesjak's collection: December 1934 Kay Kamen dairy Mickey Mouse Magazine.

Following up on my posts about the movies Hollywood Party and Servants' Entrance, Are Myklebust sent me the following email:

[After I read about the movie Hollywood Party (1934) on your blog, I decided to set up a list over classic "non-Disney" movies with some kind of "Disney" connection in them.

Important: I haven't seen all those movies myself, so the information for the ones I haven’t seen is based on what I have found in cinema related books or on the net.
The ones I haven't seen are: Betray My Lips, Servants' Entrance, Babes in Toyland, Sullivan's Travels and Once Upon a Time.
The others are based on my own observations.

Here is the list:

M (Germany, 1931):
In this masterpiece by Fritz Lang we can see some Mickey Mouse figures at a drug store.

Roman Scandals (1933) (Samuel Goldwyn):
A comedy where Eddie Cantor gives an “anachronistic” reference to Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Betray My Lips (1933) (Fox):
In a futuristic sequence in the movie we can se Mickey Mouse on a TV-screen (From the 1933 cartoon Ye Olden Days).

Servants’ Entrance (1934) (Fox):
Contains a six minute long animated nightmare sequence in b/w made by the Disney Studio.

Hollywood Party (1934) (MGM):
Features a short b/w combined animated/live action sequence with Mickey Mouse and the actor Jimmy Durante and a Silly Symphony-sequence in colour: The Hot Chocolate Soldiers made by the Disney Studio.

Babes in Toyland (1934) (Hal Roach):
Some dolls of Mickey Mouse and the Three Little Pigs play a very small part of the story line in this Laurel and Hardy film.

Modern Times (1936) (Charlie Chaplin):
In a short sequence Paulette Goddard picks up a Mickey Mouse doll in a department store and holds it up in front of Chaplin.

Sabotage (Great Britain, 1936):
In this thriller, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, there is a sequence where Who Killed Cock Robin? is shown in the background in a movie theatre. According to the credits this is done after “an appointment with Walt Disney”.

Sullivan’s Travels (1941) (Paramount):
A part of animator Norm Ferguson’s famous flypaper sequence from Playful Pluto (1934) is shown in this movie.

Once Upon a Time (1944) (Columbia):
In this Cary Grant movie an actor with the name Walter Fenner gives an uncredited performance as Walt Disney.

Brief Encounter (1945, Great Britain):
In this great movie directed by David Lean, Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson visits a movie theatre. We hear Donald Duck in the background, and both of them utter their fondness for the duck.]

Monday, December 18, 2006

And from the collection od David Lesjak: December 1933 Kay Kamen dairy Mickey Mouse Magazine.

And now the final 4 pages of the Frank Lloyd Wright conference at the Hyperion studio.
The second blog is The Pickle Barrel, run by Jordan Reichek, which I consider almost as the online equivalent of The E-Ticket magazine.

Jim Korkis allowed me to discover this weekend two fantastic blogs to which I am planning to pay a daily visit and that will make it to my list of permanent links later today. The first one of those blogs is 2719 Hyperion, run by Jeff Pepper. This blog features, among other treasures, a post about the Disney sequence in Hollywood Party which predates mine from quite a few weeks. I have not read all the entries yet, but I anticipate a delighful Xmas weekend doing this!

Most of you have probably already read this on CartoonBrew, but in case you missed it: Adrienne Tytla, widow of Disney legend Bill Tytla passed away last week.

Fortunately for Disney historians, she was able to release before her death a stunning 1000-page long book about her husband and her. This book, Disney's Giant is still available at

Friday, December 15, 2006

Quite a few of you seem to have enjoyed the first few pages of the transcript from the 1939 session with Frank Lloyd Wright at the Hyperion studio. Here are the next 5 pages (the last 4 will be posted on monday). Enjoy!

One more Xmas item from the collection of David Lesjak. This time around the front cover of a 1937 Hallmark card.

A few important notes for the daily readers of this blog:

- If you have tried emailing me recently and did not get an answer, please resend me your email! I know for a fact that quite a few emails sent in the last few weeks have not reached me. As a rule, I always answer all emails with 48 hours.

- I am still looking for photocopies of the magazine Animato! issue 39.

Finally: as some of you know, the hardest to find book of them all about Disney is the Pinocchio book released by Random House and pictured here. It contains a very large number of storyboard drawings from the movie and its print run was only 100 copies.

- I was wondering if a generous soul would be prepared to photocopy the whole book for me (a long shot, but I love to try :-)

For those of you with very deep pockets, there seems to be a copy of the book still available on Cohen Books and Collectibles for $3,500.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Let's admit it: I was hoping to break this scoop. But Hans Perk got it first. So, here you go: check this post on one of my favorite sites, Hans Perk's A. Film LA, about Russell Schroeder's upcoming book... a book which is already on my "must-have" selection for 2007.