“I live for furs; I worship furs!”
A pair of dalmatians (Rod Taylor and Cate Bauer) rely on a network of animal friends to help rescue their brood of 15 puppies from the clutches of evil Cruella De Vil (Betty Lou Gerson).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Animated Features
- Talking Animals
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary accurately labels this classic animated feature (based on the 1956 children’s novel by Dodie Smith) a “most enjoyable, consistently clever and amusing Disney cartoon” — thanks in no small part to the inclusion of “one of the greatest of Disney’s villainesses, eccentric and mad Cruella de Vil” (animated by Marc Davis as an “exaggerated, flamboyantly garbed and made-up” evil send-up of Tallulah Bankhead). From its charming opening sequences — in which our narrator, Pongo (Rod Taylor), laments the unmarried status of his “pet”/owner, Roger (Ben Wright), and helps him pursue the beautiful, dalmatian-owning Anita (Lisa Davis) — to the “exciting escape sequence, in which [a network of] dogs use various means to elude Cruella and her cronies”, it’s easy to get caught up in this rousing tale of kidnapping and rescue, in which “good” and “evil” are so clearly delineated (who but a truly twisted individual would even think of making a coat out of puppy fur??!). As Peary notes, “many of the supporting animals” are able to “display enormous personality in very brief screen time” — though it’s slightly disappointing that the puppies themselves don’t have “more distinct personalities”, and I’ll agree that it would be better if “Perdita and Anita were as quirky as their male counterparts”. Watch for a couple of clever scenes skewering the mind-numbing quality of “modern” television — most notably the “What’s My Crime?” parody.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- The charming opening “matchmaking” sequence
- Cruella De Vil — according to James Kendrick, she’s “a truly inspired character, the kind who, if she didn’t exist, would need to be invented”
- Amusing satire of TV
- Impressive animation
Yes, as one of Disney’s (many) enjoyable mid-century-ish classics.