Disney’s Seventeenth Animated Feature – 1961
This movie is a treat, tip to tail. Beginning with the jazzy, modern-art inspired opening credits, you’ll realize you’re in for something special. This little movie-before-the-movie features dancing dalmation spots that hop onto a musical stave and animator’s sketches that spring to life. Work-in-progress sketches of dalmations run in a row, reminiscent of Eadweard Muybridge’s motion studies of horses. And One Hundred and One Dalmatians makes any number of references to famous films, just as it has inspired many imitators. Even future Disney features (I’m looking at you, Aristocats) will try to recapture its magic. Any why shouldn’t they? This is one of those rare films that succeeds on every level: story, characterizations, animation, pacing, and message.
I’d put One Hundred and One Dalmations among the best of the best of the Disney catalog. And it’s thankfully free of veiled stereotypes and implicit racism. In fact, its anti fur message is more deeply felt today than in its year of production. Back then, every woman wanted a fur coat, as witnessed in (among many other sources) the Doris Day/Cary Grant comedy of 1962, That Touch of Mink. Today, fur coats seem old hat. You can view the wonderful opening credit sequence here:
|Cruella makes her grand entrance.|
|Sweet Nanny is Cruella's opposite.|
|Just three of Perdita's fifteen.|
|Nanny, Anita, Pongo, and Roger.|