Monday, March 22, 2021

Another Milt Kahl Birthday


Milt Kahl was born on this day in 1909 in San Francisco. He was eight years younger than Walt Disney.
Most of you have seen this photo of him when he worked for the Fox West Coast Theatre chain. He drew print ads featuring titles and scenes from current movies. Each ad had a tiny "K" hidden within the composition. Believe it or not, but most of these original drawings still exist, they are with the Kahl family.

I have written plenty about Milt and his art over the years. Just enter his name in the blog search space, and all those posts will come up. 

Milt loved the way The Sword in the Stone turned out. He never understood why the film underperformed at the box office. "The studio didn't have confidence in it. Some theaters even showed it in a double bill with the Three Stooges (an American vaudeville/comedy team). If that won't kill, than what will?"

Here are Milt's key drawings for a scene with Merlin and Archimedes. The owl has just crashed under a tree after saving Wart -in the form of a fish- from a hungry pike. Merlin approaches to pick up Archimedes, who is dripping wet.

A short, simple and gorgeous scene. Before bending down, Merlin anticipates the move on #5. He then lowers himself to pick up the owl by one foot. He takes one step before placing Archimedes on a tree branch during the following scene.                                                                                                              



  1. Knowing that Milt was pleased with The Sword in the Stone is fascinating.

    Based on his temperament and exacting nature I would have expected him to have written it off. Guess I was wrong! :-)

    Recently I seem to recall either reading or watching something where it was said that he wasn't happy with The Rescuers, but nevertheless wanted to do his best, career-defining work in it even if the rest of the movie was mediocre.

    I can't remember who said it, so I can't check whether the claim is true or unfounded. It's something that remained latched in my memory. Perhaps I'm remembering it wrong?

    Hope Mushka is rolling along just fine. :-)

  2. It's so cool to see those old movie ads.
    I guess Milt's taste in films really was unpredictable... I don't know if I remember correctly so do correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you once mentioned that he unexpectedly enjoyed The Great Mouse Detective. Both that one and the Sword in the Stone are kind of underrated in my opinion.

    1. I think you are referencing a REALLY old post on this blog! =D Somehow, I also remember reading that Milt Kahl enjoyed the Great Mouse Detective. Earlier in the same post it said that he skipped watching The Black Cauldron because he thought it would be a train-wreck.

      I cannot remember whether that was on this blog or some place else. If Andreas is reading this and I am misquoting I am certain he will set me straight. :-)

      Just realised this blog goes back to 2011. I've been following since the beginning. That's 10 years!

    2. I'm pretty sure I heard that, so it must've been a podcast, probably the Clay Kaytis one from way back in 2005... But yeah, hopefully we're not mistaken. I remember he mentioned that he didn't particularly care for the animation, but enjoyed the film... Which sounds quite like Milt :)

    3. You are right, by the way. It was also mentioned in an old post from 2014 :)

    4. In my head, there is a clip of Glen Keane where he talks about being incredulous when Milt Kahl told him he enjoyed The Great Mouse Detective. Something like:

      "Wait a minute! *You* liked the animation of The Great Mouse Detective?"
      "No, of course not! But the characters were good."

      I would like to think I didn't just make it up out of whole cloth, but I can't find it so who knows...

    5. I believe you are correct, because that's more or less the quote that I remember, so that's probably it

    6. It was me who had this conversation with Milt way back.

    7. > It was me who had this conversation with Milt way back.

      Ah. I don't know how I got the two of you mixed up, but that explains why I couldn't find it.

      (I still haven't found it, but one mystery at a time...)

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