Sunday, October 4, 2015

Walt Disney on PBS


All I can say is that I was tremendously excited when I heard that American Public Television was working on a two part program on Walt Disney as part of The American Experience series.
It turned out that a combination of overbearing "Talking Heads" who never met Walt, combined with way too few interviews with artists who did, made this program utterly unauthentic. A huge missed opportunity. I wanted to hear more from Ron Miller, Rolly Crump, Marty Sclar, Richard Sherman and many others, who had been in contact with Walt.
Just to single out one section from the documentary: The idea that Disney was fed up with animation by the time Cinderella went into production is absurd. He was supposed to have stayed in his office, surrounded by secretaries. WHAT?
Frank, Ollie, Milt and Marc told me that Walt was all over Cinderella, since it was a film that had to succeed at the box office after the lean post war years.
This program is not to be taken seriously, hopefully in good time a better researched documentary will emerge to shed a better light on  who Walt Disney was.
I have been lucky to be able to listen to the complete Pete Martin interview from the late 1950s.
Walt Disney was a very driven, often impatient visionary, who changed the world.
I can't agree more with Floyd Norman's review of this film:

http://floydnormancom.squarespace.com/blog/2015/9/17/my-review-of-the-walt-disney-documentary












To many this was the last time TV audiences saw Walt, on New Years at the Rose Bowl in 1966.

16 comments:

  1. Right on Andreas. I agree with both you and Floyd 100%!!

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  2. The program was incredibly long and said nothing you couldn't find on wikipedia.

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  3. Finally a mention of the strike.So many missed interviews the studio has on file. Not a peep from Diane Miller,who Lived with the guy.

    The attempts to make Walt appear darker than he was were kinda flat. Not one animator mentioned by name besides Ub, Walt, and Art Babbit..Don Lusk showed up, but only gave two good stories.

    So Walt was really no worse than any of the other movie producers at the time. Not a mention that he was considered the best story man in Hollywood... even Chaplin said so.

    quick question, Amigo...Did Frank or Ollie ever say anything to you about the strike?

    Ollie only said to me that it was a bad time for morale, and that he lost some friends over it. That was it.

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  4. I thought much the same thing. Bravo! Well said.

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  5. The good thing about the AE special was that it was my 'entry point' and got me to research Walt Disney out of curiosity and wanting to know more about his life. I have really enjoyed reading all about him and who he was. I also love this pic you included of the family in what looks like 'the apartment' at Disneyland, and Mrs. Disney appears to be wearing Cinderella shoes! I love it.

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    1. Maureen, may I suggest picking up a copy of "Walt Disney: An American Original" by Bob Thomas. Of the biographies, I find this one to be the most in depth account of Walt's life

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  6. Thank you, Andreas. I found so many inaccuracies and misinformation in this documentary. I use the term documentary lightly here, as I consider it a hatchet job. Why PBS would want to go so far out of their way to paint him as a nasty man, when those who actually knew him personally tell the opposite... It's beyond me. The fact checker was given credit at the end. He should be reassigned to simpler tasks. And those "historians" they interviewed were ridiculous. It was as though they had nothing to add so they projected their own feelings and assumptions to sound knowledgeable. It was a disgrace.

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  7. Hear, hear! Glad to hear you weigh in on it. I also side with Floyd Norman's commentary. What about all those animators that didn't strike? Not one mention of that, in fact I got the complete opposite impression from the documentary, that all of them went on strike. Not true according to Floyd.

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  8. Despite having 4 whole hours, they seriously glossed over a lot of stuff (practically all animation from the 40's onwards). No mention of Sleeping Beauty or it's effect on the studio? I suppose most people who read this blog are more interested in the animation side of things than Walt's politics or even Disneyland- but as far as I know, the people making the animated films worked the closest with Walt, and for the longest time. So their accounts provide a better portrait of him.
    They really should have pulled up old interviews with people who have now passed, instead of giving so much time to people who never laid eyes on the guy, or even set foot in the studio

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    1. Tom Sito seemed to know his stuff about the strike though. At least he knew some of the people involved

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  9. I don't know as much about the real Walt as you do, put I did catch some errors in the section detailing Song of the South. Thanks for speaking up.

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  11. The documentary's noticeable shift from animation post-Cinderella didn't read so much as "fed up", but if Walt was tried of animation, would he have not made that call himself during the 1960s? When the company was supposedly pressuring him to pull out of animation?

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  12. That's disappointing. I was looking forward to that.

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  13. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on this topic. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him. So I should thank you for the free lunch I got.

    Pacote de Férias em Orlando

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  14. Random thought that is depressing... for some reason, and someone correct me if I am wrong, but.... wasn't Clarance Nash (Donald Duck)'s last appearance was the rose bowl in the early 80's before Tony A. took over the voice?

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