Archive for Walt Disney

Hitler Saved from Drowning

Posted in FILM, Politics with tags , , , , on August 2, 2014 by dcairns


From Richard Schickel’s The Disney Version, which offers up a fairly pungent critique of Uncle Walt’s sensibility. He’s Disney on Hitler ~

“Mr. A. Hitler, the Nazi old thing, says Mickey’s silly. Imagine that! Well, Mickey is going to save Mr. A. Hitler from drowning or something some day. Just wait and see if he doesn’t. Then won’t Mr. A. Hitler be ashamed!”

As Schickel points out, what Hitler had actually said was, Mickey was “the most miserable ideal ever revealed … mice are dirty.”

I find the statement by Disney funny and surreal, though not in an intentional way. It’s clueless. Disney was certainly a wee bit antisemitic himself, and also like most of the studio bosses he wanted to keep making money out of Germany. Warners, the most courageously anti-Nazi studio, only shut down operations in Germany when their Berlin man was viciously beaten up for being Jewish. Disney, who was one of the only producers to welcome Leni Riefenstahl when she visited Hollywood, was obviously worried that the Führer was not a Mickey fan, as this had potential commercial consequences. He felt the need to respond, but couldn’t be inflammatory about it. “The old Nazi thing” is as insulting as he can bring himself to get, and his idea of a comeuppance for Hitler is that Mickey will do him a good turn.

I’m not saying Disney was a Nazi! It’s just unfortunate, is all. The cartoon is my way of showing I have something in common with Uncle Walt: neither of us can draw Mickey Mouse.



Eli Wallach Assaulted by Cats

Posted in FILM with tags , , on March 3, 2012 by dcairns

I was saddened to learn today that veteran actor Eli Wallach has been assaulted by some cats. Mr Wallach was shooting his new film for Walt Disney Productions, THE MOONSPINNERS, with Hayley Mills.

It’s not clear how the incident occurred. One preliminary report seems to suggest that some stagehands, employed by Walt Disney Productions, actually threw the cats at Mr Wallach. If this is true, I think it’s just terrible.

Mr Wallach was rushed to hospital, where his condition is described as “very angry.”

For Anne Billson, because she’s GREAT.

Black & White

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on January 31, 2012 by dcairns

In which I continue to violate your childhoods.

The safety curtain labeled “assbestos” isn’t the half of it — this is one of those cartoons it’s probably best to dismiss as a bad dream.

This is the Mickey Mouse cartoon Uncle Walt probably doesn’t want you to see. It doesn’t seem to be included on the DVDs collecting the rodent’s b&w adventures. Along with SONG OF THE SOUTH, which is positively unproblematic by comparison, this has been, er, whitewashed from history.

SONG OF THE SOUTH, the Disney feature with the most worrisome rep, is certainly a quaint and disingenuous view of the south, and again features a certain amount of racial stereotyping. But I’ve always felt a certain fondness for it — despite the unwelcome revelation that Gregg Toland’s genius kind of evaporated when he shot in Technicolor — as a kid, I’d see Uncle Remus singing Zippedy-do-dah in all those TV specials, and I liked him. And I realized much later that I hadn’t even perceived him as ethnically different from myself. He was just an old man. So I can kind of feel the innocence in the film’s depiction of race.

My friend and Film Festival colleague Niall Greig Fulton got in touch after Sunday the 22nd’s post to mention TRADER MICKEY, “Which ends with Mickey Mouse eating cannibals.” It doesn’t quite, I’m afraid, but it still contains plenty of outrageous imagery and attitudes —

Should I attempt a Leonard Maltin-style defense of the above?I could say, “OK, *you* do a caricature of a cannibal that isn’t racist!” but I don’t think that would wash. While Buster Keaton’s cannibals in THE NAVIGATOR aren’t grotesque distortions of humanity like Disney’s, they still partake of a rather limited view of African civilisation — cannibalism has always been very much a niche activity in reality, so part of the racism is in depicting it so frequently. I don’t demand it be portrayed sympathetically… and I can’t stay mad at Buster.

At least Mickey befriends the natives, rather than defeating them in a warlike manner. Maybe, after the chief tragically suffers 90% scalding in the final shot, Mickey joins them in their life of anthropophagy, perhaps even taking over the tribe like Martin Sheen at the end of APOCALYPSE NOW. With Pluto as a kind of canine Dennis Hopper.

But really, all possible allowances aside, I do think this is (you should pardon the expression) rather beyond the pale.