- This article is about the 1961 film. For the live-action remake, see 101 Dalmatians (1996 film). For the television series, see 101 Dalmatians: The Series.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians, often abbreviated as 101 Dalmatians, is a 1961 American animated film presented by Walt Disney and based on the novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. Seventeenth in the Walt Disney Animated Classics, the film was originally released to theaters on January 25, 1961 distributed by Buena Vista Distribution.
The film is starring Rod Taylor as the voice of Pongo, Cate Bauer as the voice of Perdita, and Betty Lou Gerson as the voice of the villainous Cruella De Vil. The plot centers on the fate of the kidnapped puppies of Pongo and Perdita.
This is the first Disney animated feature film to take place in the time period it was made (late 1950's to early 1960's), as all previous features were either period pieces or set in some kind of fantasy world with no specifically recognizable time period. Adjusted for inflation it is the 11th highest grossing movie of all time and second highest grossing animated film, just behind Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, it is also a critical gem, as critics praised it for defying Disney convention and for it's character animation.
Pongo's a dalmatian that lives in a London bachelor flat with his owner, professional songwriter Roger Radcliffe. Bored with bachelor life, unlike Roger who spends his days writing music, Pongo decides to find a wife for Roger and a mate for himself. While watching various female dog-human pairs out the window, he spots the perfect couple, a woman named Anita and her female dalmatian, Perdita (or Perdy for short) heading to Regent's Park. He quickly gets Roger out of the house and drags him through the park to arrange a meeting. After an awkward and unusual meeting that goes awry, Pongo's efforts pay off and had accidentally causes both Roger and Anita to fall into a pond, but it works out well as the couple falls in love. Both the human couple and the dog couple marry.
Once Roger and Anita (and Pongo and Perdita) get married, Perdita gives birth to Dalmatian puppies. One of the puppies appears to die, but Roger is able to revive it by rubbing it in a towel (because of which, they would name the pup, "Lucky"). That same night, they are visited by Cruella De Vil, a eccentric and wealthy social parasite known to Anita from their school years. She offers the human couple to buy the entire litter of puppies for a large sum, but Roger says they are not selling any of the puppies. Weeks later, she hires Jasper and Horace Badun to kidnap all of the puppies. The humans try every effort to locate the stolen puppies but to no avail. When Scotland Yard is unable to prove she stole them or find the puppies, Pongo and Perdita use the "Twilight Bark", normally a canine gossip line, to alert and ask for help from the other dogs in England and locate the puppies, the first one to answer the call is the Great Dane.
Colonel, an old sheepdog, along with his compatriots Captain, a gray horse, and Sergeant Tibbs, a tabby cat, find the puppies in a place called Hell Hall (aka The De Vil Place), along with other Dalmatian puppies that Cruella had purchased from various dog stores. Tibbs learns the puppies are going to be made into dog-skin fur coats and the Colonel quickly sends word back to London. Upon receiving the message, Pongo and Perdita immediately leave London to retrieve their puppies. Meanwhile, Tibbs overhears Cruella ordering the Baduns to kill and render the puppies that night out of fear the police will soon find them. In response, Tibbs attempts to rescue the puppies himself while the Baduns are watching the television, but they finish their show and come for them before Tibbs can get the puppies out of the house. Pongo and Perdita burst through a window just as the Baduns have cornered them and are about to kill them. Horace is knocked into the fireplace and Jasper gets his pants pulled down while Colonel and Tibbs guide the puppies from the house.
After a happy reunion with their own puppies, the two dogs realize there are 84 other puppies with them in Cruella's possession. Shocked after learning of Cruella's plans, Pongo and Perdita decide to adopt all of the puppies, certain that Roger and Anita would never reject them. The dogs begin making their way back to London, aided by other animals along the way; including the Collie and the Cows who give them shelter and food. However, Cruella and the Baduns are in hot pursuit of the dogs and will stop at nothing to catch them. In order to try and fool Cruella and the Baduns, the dalmatians cover themselves with soot so they appear to be Labrador retrievers.
They then pile inside a moving van going back to London. As the van is leaving, melting snow cleans off the soot and Cruella and her partners sees them through the dog's disguises. In a maniacal rage, Jasper and Horace in their truck and Cruella in her car follows the van with the dalmatians inside. Cruella repeatedly rams the van off the road (promptly damaging her car in the process), while the Baduns try to cut it off from another direction. They nearly succeed, but just as the Baduns are about to cut off the van from above, a panicked Horace accidentally tears the steering wheel from the Badun truck's dashboard, causing the vehicle to swerve out of control. Because of this, the Baduns end up colliding with Cruella and her car. Both vehicles crash into a deep ravine while the dogs go to safety. Comically, the villains are shown and well, Cruella yells in frustration and berating the Baduns for their failure before starting to cry over the loss of her dear car and her new fur coat as the van drives away.
Back in London, Roger and Anita are attempting to celebrate Christmas and Roger's first big hit, a song about Cruella, but they miss their canine friends. Suddenly, barking is heard outside and after their nanny opens the door, the house is filled with dogs. After wiping away more of the soot, the couple is delighted to realize the dalmatian clan have returned home. They decide to use the money from the song to buy a large house in the country so they can keep all 101 Dalmatians.
The film is a landmark in animation history for many reasons. It is the first Disney animated film to be set in a contemporary setting. It is also the first Disney film created by a single story man (Bill Peet).
The production of the film also signaled a change in the graphic style of Disney's animation. Ub Iwerks, in charge of special processes at the studio, had been experimenting with Xero photography to aid in animation. By 1959 he had modified a Xerox camera to transfer drawings by animators directly to cels, eliminating the inking process and preserving the spontaneity of the penciled elements.
The introduction of xerography eased graphic reproduction requirements, but at the price of being unable to deviate from a scratchy outline style because of the new (and time and money saving) technology's limitations. Since the line would not have fit the "round" Disney drawing style used until then (with the exception of Sleeping Beauty), a more graphic, angular style was chosen for this and subsequent films. Rotoscoping, a technique formerly used for tracing live action human characters into animated drawings, became less important.
Another reason for its look was that the animators were used to producing sketchy drawings, as the clean-up was done in the process of transferring the drawings to the cells. With the hand inkers gone, the animation remained as the animators drew it. Later it became common to do clean-up on paper before the animation was copied, and with time and experience, the process improved.
According to Chuck Jones, Disney was able to bring the movie in for about half of what it would have cost if they'd had to animate all the dogs and spots. The studio cut its animation department after the failure of the very expensive Sleeping Beauty, resulting in a reduction of staff from over 500 to less than 100. Walt Disney, who for some years had spent his attention more towards television and his Disneyland amusement park and less on his animated features, disliked this development. The "sketchy" graphic style would remain the norm at Disney for years until the technology improved prior to the release of The Rescuers. In later animated features the Xeroxed lines could be printed in different colors.
Unlike many Walt Disney animated features, One Hundred and One Dalmatians features only three songs, with just one, "Cruella De Vil", playing a big part in the film. The other two songs are "Kanine Krunchies Jingle" (sung by Lucille Bliss, who voiced Anastasia in Disney's 1950 film Cinderella), and "Dalmatian Plantation" in which only two lines are sung by Roger at the film's closure. Songwriter Mel Leven had, in fact, written several additional songs for the film including "Don't Buy a Parrot from a Sailor", a cockney chant, meant to be sung by the Badduns at the De Vil Mansion, and "March of the One Hundred and One", which the dogs were meant to sing after escaping Cruella by van.
To achieve the spotted Dalmatians, the animators used to think of the spot pattern as a constellation. Once they had one "anchor spot", the next was placed in relation to that one spot, and so on and so on until the full pattern was achieved. All total, One Hundred and One Dalmatians featured 6,469,952 spots, with Pongo sporting 72 spots, Perdita 68, and each puppy having 32.
As done with other Disney films, Walt Disney hired an actress to perform live-action scenes as a reference for the animation process. Actress Helene Stanley performed the live-action reference for the character of Anita. She did the same kind of work for the characters of Cinderella in the title movie and Aurora in Sleeping Beauty.
According to Christopher Finch, author of The Art of Walt Disney: "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. [...] [The animators] understood the necessity for this approach and in retrospect acknowledged that Disney had handled things with considerable subtlety."
- Rod Taylor - Pongo
- Cate Bauer - Perdita
- Betty Lou Gerson - Cruella De Vil / Miss Birdwell
- Ben Wright (Speaking) and Bill Lee (Singing) - Roger Radcliffe
- Lisa Davis - Anita Radcliffe
- Martha Wentworth - Nanny
- Frederick Worlock - Horace Badun; Inspector Craven
- J. Pat O'Malley - Jasper Badun; Colonel
- Thurl Ravenscroft - Captain
- David Frankham - Sergeant Tibs
- Barbara Baird - Rolly
- Mickey Maga - Patch
- Sandra Abbott - Penny
- Mimi Gibson - Lucky
- Main article: One Hundred and One Dalmatians (video)
One Hundred and One Dalmatians was first released to theaters on January 25, 1961. After its initial theatrical run, it was re-released to theaters four more times: January 1969, June 1979, December 1985, and July 1991.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians was released on VHS on April 10, 1992 as part of the Walt Disney Classics video series.
It was re-released on March 9, 1999 as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection video series, but only for One Hundred and One days.
On November 9, 1999, it received its first DVD release as part of Disney's Limited Issue series.
A 2-disc Platinum Edition DVD was released on March 4, 2008.
In Europe and the Middle-East exclusively, the film was issued on a non-commemorative Special Edition Blu-ray, featuring a static menu and no new bonus features.
The film is scheduled for a Diamond Edition release in the United States on February 10, 2015.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians was the tenth highest grossing film of 1961, accruing $6,400,000 in distributor' domestic (U.S. and Canada) rentals during its first year of release, and one of the studio's most popular films of the decade. The film was re-issued to theaters in 1969, 1979, 1985, and 1991. The 1991 reissue was the twentieth highest earning film of the year for domestic earnings. It has earned $215,880,014 in domestic box office earnings during its lengthy history. It currently holds a 97% "fresh" rating from critics and users on Rotten Tomatoes. The film did receive some negative criticism. Phillip Martin of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette only gave the film 2/5 stars. In 2011 Craig Berman of MSNBC ranked the film and its 1996 remake as two of the worst kid films of all-time saying, "The plot itself is a bit nutty. Making a coat out of dogs? Who does that? But worse than Cruella de Vil’s fashion sense is the fact that your children will definitely start asking for a Dalmatian of their own for their next birthday." Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 97% of the critics gave the film a positive review based on 37 reviews.
- American Film Institute Lists
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains:
- Cruella De Vil - #39 Villain
- AFI's 10 Top 10 - Nominated Animated Film
Sequels and spin-offs
In the years since the original release of the movie, Disney has taken the property in various directions. The earliest of these endeavors was the live-action remake, 101 Dalmatians. Starring Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil, none of the animals talked in this 1996 edition. This version's success in theaters led to 102 Dalmatians, released on November 22, 2000.
After the first live-action version of the movie, a cartoon called 101 Dalmatians: The Series was launched. The designs of the characters were stylized further, to allow for economic animation, and appeal to the contemporary trends.
101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure, the official sequel to the original animated film, was released straight-to-VHS/DVD on January 21, 2003.
More recently, Lucky and Freckles star in several shorts on Disney Junior.
- The TV show that Jasper, Horace, and the puppies are watching when Tibbs finds them is the 1929 Walt Disney Silly Symphony cartoon "Springtime."
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Thomas, Bob: "Chapter 7: The Postwar Films", page 106. Disney's Art of Animation: From Mickey Mouse to Hercules, 1997
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Finch, Christopher: "Chapter 8: Interruptions and Innovations", pages 245-246. The Art of Walt Disney, 2004
- ↑ http://www.michaelbarrier.com/Funnyworld/Jones/interview_chuck_jones.htm An Interview with Chuck Jones
- ↑ Encyclopaedia of Disney Animation
- ↑ http://americanroyalarts.com/catalog_search.php?p=1&id_nivel3=100&cat=1&id_sub=0&id_nivel_padre=1 101 Dalmatians Original Animation Forensically Examined
- ↑ Cinderella Character History. Disney Archives.
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Hundred_and_One_Dalmatians#cite_note-Gebert-15
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Hundred_and_One_Dalmatians#cite_note-16
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Hundred_and_One_Dalmatians#cite_note-17
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Hundred_and_One_Dalmatians#cite_note-18
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Hundred_and_One_Dalmatians#cite_note-19
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Hundred_and_One_Dalmatians#cite_note-20
- ↑ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJQJzsJvpIw Silly Symphonies: Springtime (October 24, 1929)
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