A few months ago on their podcast, “We Got This With Mark & Hal” Mark Gagliardi and Hal Lublin chose “The Best Disney Movie While Walt Disney Was Alive” and Mark described 101 Dalmatians as super hip.
I didn’t remember it that way, but I hadn’t watched it since some time in the mid 90s, so I really couldn’t say and after watching it again, I agree with Mark. This is a cool movie, and so very contemporary to the time it was made. Everything about the movie is terrifically 60s in the Mad Men sense. The drawing style, the music, the way the characters interact, all of it. It’s a complete delight.
The characters are amazing too. I think I could write an entire book on Cruella DeVille and on Pongo, everyone else is a bit of a thin sketch but they’re strong enough to make up for it. And the system of the Twilight Bark and the network of animals that help Pongo and Perdita find their puppies (and the 86 others) is a pure delight.
But back to Cruella, who is a brilliant villain and my favorite so far that we’ve encountered, and that includes Maleficent who I also like a lot. But Cruella is so much fun and a complete sociopath. The woman genuinely doesn’t understand why people aren’t cool with her making a puppy skin coat. She gets that they are, but the emotion of this eludes her. It’s fascinating and great.
Pongo, our hero, is also incredible, placing the psychology of a London Bachelor from 1962 in a dalmatian is such a wonderful conceit, that he finds Anita for Roger it’s mostly about himself finding Perdita, and the opening scene where he watches the women and dogs of London walk past their apartment is very fun, and the perfect window into who this dog is.
I didn’t love this as much as Lady And The Tramp, which I also watched a few extra times during COVID-19 panic because I loved it so much, but I did like it a whole lot.
Next week we get into some magical mischief with The Sword And The Stone