Tuesday, 5 December 2006

THE MAN, THE MOUSE & ME

This day, 105 years ago, saw the birth of a man who has probably had a more profound effect on my life and career than any one else - including Lewis Carroll, A A Milne, C S Lewis, J R R Tolkien and, most recently, Peter Jackson!

That man was WALTER ELIAS DISNEY...


My first exposure to the Works of Walt came in the early 1950s when, as a birthday treat, I was taken to a news-theatre (now long gone) on Waterloo Station. The programme included - in addition to Look At Life newsreel footage - a comedy short featuring Laurel and Hardy and a Disney cartoon...

On this fateful day, the chosen film was an already vintage Mickey Mouse short entitled Brave Little Tailor.


Originally issued in 1938, the film was based on the folk-tale of the tailor who accidentally gets appointed giant-killer.

Much of the film's classic knock-about humour was derived from the sequences following a scene in which the giant inadvertently swallows Mickey, along with an outsized handful of pumpkins, and then washes down his "meal" with the contents of an uprooted well...

At the sight of the intrepid Mickey swinging perilously on the Giant's giant uvula, the audience exploded with laughter - with one exception: ME! I was so totally terrified that I screamed the cinema down and, to my parents great embarrassment, had to be forcibly removed!

In the hopes of mollifying this traumatised child, I was whisked away to a Lyon's Corner House where, I am told, I stood on a chair and used my ice-cream spoon to conduct the band...

But, too late! The scars were already there and the seeds were sown for what has been a lifetime obsession with Disney's dreams and nightmares.

So - apart from pointing out the obvious dangers of taking young and impressionable children to the movies - what can I say but...

Thanks and a Happy Birthday, Uncle Walt!

And for those too young to remember ever having seen a Disney short cartoon in a cinema, the good news, as reported by Charles Solomon in The New York Times, is that the Disney studio are going to return to Walt's movie-making origins and once again produce animated shorts for theatrical exhibition beginning with a goofy cartoon entitled How to Install Your Home Theater.

7 comments:

Scrooge said...

I can't remember my first Disney film as such, other than the controvesy over the Pooh shorts when it was found the stars had American accents ! I did though, have a large blue compendium of Disney adaptations, featuring all the famous films - Snow White, Pinnochio and even Song of the South, which I used to pore over for hours before bed each night. I scared myself stupid with the idea that if I was bad enough to smoke, I'd end up, literally, as a donkey ! Is that a funny idea now ! Hee Haw !

Jo Bling said...

Ah, Unkie Walt, the man who inspired myself and so many others into a career in animation, although ray Harryhausen has to burden some of the blame as well.

Lovely blog Brian and I've listened to your great work on the radio over the years. Do call by my own blog if you get the chance, as I've flirted in film, animation and publishing myself.

Very fondest whatnots

Curtis

Brian Sibley said...

See on Pleasure Island Mr Scrooge...

Nice blog, Curtis, can't wait to encounter Frankenstein's Cat!! ;-)

St Roulade said...

The wicked queen in Snow White towering on the screen at the Commodore triggered many a nightmare.
Even the Strawberry Mivvi ice lolly bought afterwards
was no consolation!

Jo Bling said...

Brian, I also notice "Something Wicked" in your favourite books... good man yourself! TX date for the Cat is September on BBC1 - the humour is skewed to adults as well as kids (hopefully) so there should be something for everyone there, especially lovers of subtle innuendo!

Diva of Deception said...

This time the memory isn't mine - although I did so love those news theatres with cartoons on a reel so you stayed till they just came round again! I remember looking for the one at Piccadilly Circus only to find it was gone - well it was not that long ago that I looked. When did they disappear? I also remember tea with the orchestra at Lyons Corner House and Happy Birthday being played down my ear'ole by a violinist right next to me!

But the nightmare memory was one which my son and I shared and loved! He had a friend who was totally precocious. My son could read early on but this Ben was reading 'proper' story books rather than the ones with a few pictures still in them. Ben had a fifth birthday treat to which we were invited - go see Pinnochio and back to his house for tea. When the little puppet was swallowed by the whale Ben had hysterics and had to be carted outside till the end of the movie - vindication for his months of showing off.

The following year his mum paid for us all to go see the live Batman show - and Ben took fright at the Penguin and spent that one outside too. It was great!!! :)

Brian Sibley said...

Lovely story! :-)