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Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Dick, Apr 22, 2014.
Thanks Sam for that Bob Iger quote. I had not read that until this morning.
One could argue the same about That Woman as well. Millionaire's songs happen to be superior (1965-1977 is the "do no wrong" era of the Sherman Bros IMO), and at least they are not constantly shoved down everyone's throat by the studio.
And as for them connecting to what was happening, Angier and Cordy singing "Are we dancing" while actually dancing seems to be a pretty strong connection as well.
Maybe the story weaknesses you perceive come from the same point as its predecessor: the lack of a linear plot in the source material and the fact that Walt didn't seem to be drinking the Hero's Journey kool-aid too heavily during this period.
Paradoxically, the strongest narrative tangents of Millionaire—the Lesley Ann/John love story—are the weakest narrative link in Family Band as it currently exists.
As much as I love THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE as a nostalgic throwback to the era when the Disney studio's craftsmanship was at its peak (and this may have had the largest budget of Walt's live action films), structurally it's a mess. The characters played by Paul Peterson, Eddie Hodges and Joyce Bulifant are introduced and then never seen again. What was the point? And whose story is it? The first half hour is told from Tommy Steele's point of view. We see nothing that he doesn't see and he's constantly breaking the fourth wall by talking to us. It's his story and nothing happens that he isn't privy to.
Then Leslie Ann Warren goes off to school and it becomes her story. At sporadic points, we take up Fred MacMurray's story thread, which never amounts to much, though he's the title character. Greer Garson is just there to make sure everyone behaves with an ounce of decorum. The story just meanders along pleasantly with no guiding force and then it concludes. The fact that they were able to lop off of the final 15 minutes or so for general release with only a minimal loss to the story shows how aimless everything is.
But I enjoy revisiting it from time to time. I can't explain it.
And, yes, Tommy Steele is an acquired taste. One that my mom never acquired when we dragged her to see this one back in '68. To her, he's nails on a blackboard. I'm glad she's never seen FINIAN'S RAINBOW!
Yep THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE is a fun visit with crazy relatives. Enjoyable while it's happening, but glad when you leave and go home. But you know you will be back to visit again soon.
I think the fourth wall stuff works better here than with That Woman, and I love the part where Biddle catches John Lawless talking to the fourth wall. Aside from the score, it's little things like that that make the movie.Such criticisms of Millionaire's loose story structure ring hollow in my ears, for I consider That Woman to be an even bigger mess. What is the point of Admiral Boom or Uncle Albert? Both characters could have been removed without harming the equally threadbare narrative. How can anyone buy the ending where Mr. Banks gets his job back after essentially killing his boss's father? And then there's That Woman herself. Even when toned down by Walt, the Shermans, and Walsh & DaGradi, she's needlessly cruel. She doesn't explain anything (if that isn't lazy storytelling, I don't know what is), she threatens the children, she's rather condescending to Bert (who, for some reason, is crazy about her; he must be a glutton for punishment), and she exposes the children to industrial pollution (Designing Women called them out on that one in 1990; bravo, Mary Jo!). And that's just for starters. And don't get me started on Mrs. Banks. On the whole, I agree with Michael Barrier when he said of the film in Walt Disney: An Illustrated Man:
Tommy Steele as Bert? Hmmm, I'll let that simmer for awhile while I play "I'll Always Be Irish" on my iPod, but Van Dyke and Tomlinson were put to much better use in their other Sherman Brothers musicals.
Ironically, it was Bill Walsh's idea to turn Millionaire into a musical in the first place; it was a book and then a play, and IIRC it was no less episodic there than on film. Walt took Walsh off the picture and put him on Blackbeard's Ghost. Perhaps with a revamped book, the musical version could work on the stage.
The Shermans wanted Rex Harrison to play Biddle (with Gladys Cooper as his mother again, it would have been a My Fair Lady reunion), but he did Doctor Dolittle instead. Good call?
(Uh, you could ask Travers, they were in the books?
Over here, we're expecting a thunderstorm later, which is also "Mary Poppins"'s fault. )
Ironically enough, just LIKE Newsies.
The "Fortuosity" opening leads you into so much of an entertaining idea of what you expect the movie to be, going in, that you sit there for the middle hour thinking "Gee, I wish I could have seen THAT movie, instead."
Having never seen "Half a Sixpence" yet, I remember asking one time "Whatever happened to Tommy Steele?"Nobody quite knew--"Maybe his teeth ate him."
Bert was in the books, too: in exactly one chapter, and he was not just a chimney sweep. He did other odd jobs. There was a lot of stuff from the books that didn't make the script of the movie. Remember Mrs. Corry? Even so, asking Helen Goff to give me a straight answer on anything would be an exercise in futility even if she were still alive. But does anyone else think a run on the bank would have made more sense if they'd kept the 1930s setting, since there actually were bank runs pretty regularly back then? How does one child's tantrum set off a bank run? Weak. That, the lack of sympathetic characters, and everything else I've discussed make the film completely unwatchable to me. She is the Regina George of Disney characters.
The author of that new Roadshow book seems to blame it for the death of movie musicals. I have in the past referred to it and Easy Rider as the most expensive movies of the 1960s because of the long-term costs of their success. The cheapjack, faux-counterculture movies that we supposedly flocked to while supposedly ignoring all the big studio musicals, have all aged poorly, but the fact that these musicals seemed so divorced from the times in which they were made gives some of them a sort of timeless quality. The only reason Disney didn't go broke in this era is because they used sodium vapor shots and mattes to save money on building sets and going out on location. As a result, however, many of them look inconsistent from shot to shot and always will. The HD transfers reveal that, and maybe that is why they're hesitant to release the back catalog to disc.
Even if it was unrealistic for the studio to expect the same level of commercial success from subsequent musicals (being set in England and being released in 1964 was a little bit of luck ), Disney's executives obviously learned nothing from that film's commercial success when it came to post-production. My favorite story about that is that Walt resisted pressure not to cut two songs, "Stay Awake" and "I Love to Laugh" even though they slowed the picture to a halt. Yet he kept them in, and the film managed to get an editing Oscar. Yet the next four musicals, the ones that take away the excuses for why Disney cut so many corners on other films during the Card Walker era, have been cut and re-cut so many times I have to double-check which version is on TV, disc or streaming. One of Walt's last words to Bill Anderson was "don't let the distribution people rush you." But he did. He was willing to make minor cuts, but Walker wanted huge, arbitrary cuts. And he got them. The moral of the story: don't let executives in the editing room. It wouldn't have hurt them if they could have come up with new ad campaigns for each film, though.
But if you want to see really bad mid-century live-action Disney, try sitting through Bon Voyage! or Superdad one of these days. If you can make it through either of those turkeys, you're stronger than I. Even a shirtless Kurt Russell playing volleyball couldn't save the latter.
Thanks for reminding me of SUPERDAD. I had hoped it was out if my mind forever.
Have any pre-orders showed up anywhere for the titles on page 1?
My apologies for triggering any bad memories. However, the film did inspire me to put Auto Focus in my Netflix queue.
A quick note to everyone to STOP any personal remarks and to stick to comments on the subject at hand.
I have just deleted a number of posts. If any personal attacks continue, there will be consequences.
It wasn't them. It was Card Walker's inability to cut a film with anything other than a hacksaw. He cut things that shouldn't have been cut while paying no attention to pacing. He's part of the reason the company almost went under. He's the one who said "what do you want to do, Roy, make Deep Throat?" to Roy E. Disney's suggestion of making something that doesn't follow the story structure of The Shaggy Dog to the letter (source: Storming the Magic Kingdom, page 15). He's the reason the two 70s hybrids have at least three different cuts each (and the cutting of the two Lesley & John musicals as well, source: Walt's People, Volume 8, pages 203, 206-207, and 245-247), and he tried to do the same to Splash (source: DisneyWar, page 47). He also paid little to no attention to detail in many cases with the films. 1976's Treasure of Matecumbe is another coulda-shoulda-woulda; it had an interesting concept and some good people in it (the less said about Joan Hackett's "Suthun" accent, the better), but the matte work is horrible. Absolutely horrible. Bill Anderson, the film's producer, knew it. But Walker refused to push back the release date to fix the opticals, so it went out that way and bombed. (Source: Walt's People, Volume 8, page 250) That might be a better candidate for a remake than the ones they have lined up.
By the time Ron Miller (whom I genuinely feel bad for because, despite his missteps, he got blamed for things that weren't his fault because he was the one credited as producer on so many of the movies) became actual head of the company, not just the studio, even the positive changes (Disney Channel, Touchstone, the PG initiative) were too little, too late, and they didn't solve any of the underlying problems with the company: the amount of creative interference was too great for some people to bear. That's why the Sherman Brothers left; they saw no purpose writing songs for musicals only to have a third of them cut when Charles Schulz, Hanna-Barbera and Arthur P. Jacobs were a bit more receptive. That's why Disney didn't get Star Wars until Iger bought out George Lucas.
If you want a "what went wrong without Walt" story from someone who was there, how about this one from Roy E. Disney? There's also a book about the subject that's coming out soon, Frozen In Ice (was Disney on Ice too obvious or too trademark-infringey?). I'll see whether it provides any further insight as to how Disney managed to survive the questionable-at-best management style of the 1970s and how Walt's family lost control of the company that bears his name.
EDIT: Final note regarding The Happiest Millionaire: one cannot blame the film itself for another way Disney shot themselves in the foot regarding its release. According to Robert B. Sherman in Walt's People V.8 (page 207), he says they reissued a double bill of The Absent-Minded Professor and The Shaggy Dog the same time Millionaire came out. Most people would rather see two movies for the price of one than the reverse. Sleeping Beauty had also failed as a roadshow release as well; I guess Disney's audience just didn't want to pay roadshow prices, so they never tried that release model again.
Does anyone know anything about this UK release of Aladdin? Is it legit?
It is legit. It has been out in the UK for some time along with 101 Dalmatians, Jungle Book, and a few others that were released much sooner in the UK.
I have it. Image is fine. The only one I passed on was Tarzan due to reports of image-flickering.
You might be able to get it a bit cheaper buying it from Amazon.co.uk
The UK 101 Dalmatians transfer is great. It seems like they cleaned up the picture without cleaning it up too much, at least compared to other films of that era.
How do you like the disc overall? Sound? Extras? Amazon says it's region free, that really true?
This is what the discs of the other films of the same era could have been. If you want it, you might as well get it now.
101 Dalmatians is not region locked. I haven't watched it since November, but it is fine in terms of picture and sound. I am glad I bought it along with the other films directly through Amazon.co.uk, which is generally cheaper than purchasing them through secondary sellers on Amazon.com.
I believe all the extras got ported over from the Platinum edition, but I am not 100% sure. There are some mini-documentaries, including the important one about how the artwork was designed for this film, particularly the less polished drawing style of the figures and more abstracted backgrounds.
MatthewA said it best. "This is what the discs of the other films of the same era could have been."
I am just glad this film did not suffer The Sword and the Stone's fate in terms of a digital scrubbing that resulted in a visually mushy mess.
For 40+ years I've had little interest in seeing Song of the South, but it's getting to the point where I'm dying to watch it, just to be able to form my own opinion of it.
It's nothing great. I think most people would agree with that.
However, it's Disney history. It deserves to be out there and in the hands
of collectors that want it.
I am still baffled by Disney holding on to this title as if people are going
to grab their pitchforks and storm Cinderella's castle if it ever gets released.