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Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation Hardcover – 1 Mar 2002


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Disney Editions (1 Mar. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786864966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786864966
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 3.2 x 31.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 955,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

Meet the Team Whose Combined Genius Defined the Art of Character Animation; A fantastic collector's edition for Disney fans everywhere! Think of your favourite moments and characters in Disney films from the thirties to the seventies and chances are most were animated by one of Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men". Through the span of their careers, these nine highly skilled animators, with widely differing artistic gifts, viewpoints, personalities and ambitions, exhibited an unparalleled loyalty to their employer. In this gorgeous full-sized gift book, noted film historian John Canemaker explores these men's artistic breakthroughs, failures, rivalries, and their individual relationships with each other and with Walt. This candid narrative of their lives and contributions to a very special form of artistic cinema illustrates why the work of the "Nine Old Men" will continue to be a significant source for study and inspiration for years to come.

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In the summer of 1925, Leslie James Clark served Walt Disney ice cream at a confectionery located on Vermont Avenue at the eastern edge of Hollywood. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Diana on 12 April 2010
Format: Hardcover
John Canemaker is an animation historian, animator and professor of film animation at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He is a very successful author with seven books (three just about Disney animation) and 100's of essays and articles to his name. Mr. Canemaker is also noted for several award-winning short films.

Mr. Canemaker begins the book with a look at the Nine Old Men's formative years: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Most of the Nine Old Men were hired at the Studios in the mid-1930's. Before them, were legendary men that were mentors and friends to the new artists. Vladmir Tytla, Grim Natwick, Norman Ferguson, Hamilton Luske and Fred Moore were put in charge of various departments and sections of Snow White. As time progressed, many of the Nine Old Men were mentored by these animation pioneers. For many reasons, the previously mentioned animators left Disney or found they could not keep up with the younger crowd. Mr. Canemaker touches on the influential animator's lives throughout the chapters on the Nine Old Men.

Disney's Nine Old Men:

Les Clark (November 17, 1907 - September 12, 1979)
joined Disney in 1927. His specialty was animating Mickey Mouse as he was the only one of the Nine Old Men to work on that character from its origins with Ub Iwerks. Les did many wonderful scenes throughout the years, animating up until Lady And The Tramp. He moved into directing and made many animated featurettes and shorts.

Wolfgang Reitherman (June 26, 1909 - May 22, 1985)
joined Disney in 1935 as an animator and director. He directed all the animated Disney films after Walt's death until his retirement. Some of his work includes the Crocodile (in Peter Pan), the Dragon (in Sleeping Beauty), and the Rat (in Lady And The Tramp).
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By Richard Gildert on 9 April 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
in good condition my son is happy
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
Discovering the Genius Of Exactly What Made Disney "Disney" 2 Nov. 2001
By rhettwickham - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
John Canemaker has given readers the Disney animation book that's been missing for decades. Only it's the Readers Digest version. Canemaker is forced to compact nine amazing biographies into one book. Each of his nine subjects - the core group of gifted animators who defined the look and feel of Disney animation from the 1930's through the 1970's - is deserving of far more time and space than a single volume can deliver. Nevertheless, he's done an amazing job, and he introduces us to these men with the same careful critical objectivity he did in "Before the Animation Begins", Canemaker's marvelous 1996 book focusing on the great Disney visual development and story artists.
The author gives us the best un-fairy-dusted glimpse of the real day-to-day workings of Disney's shop since animator Jack Kinney's 1988 "Walt Disney And Assorted Other Characters" (admittedly limited in objectivity, but still enormously entertaining in its candor.) It's impossible not to feel the same admiration and passion as the author. Even in his harsher analysis of temperaments and turmoil the author is writing about the best of times among a group of very real artistic heroes who were such extraordinary people that you'd have treasured any time you could have spent in their company. Sadly, Canemaker only gets to brush on topics such as how the old generation influenced the new. Many of the current generation of Disney artists are interviewed for this book and they have a great deal of insight to contribute (both Andreas Dejas and John Lasseter in particular)and one wishes that the author had been afforded the luxury of a more critical analysis of the older generation's influence on this generation -- both by their presence and their absence; e.g. - in the best chapter in the book, Milt Kahl is characterized as having had the greatest influence on the look of Disney characters. Questions about what affect Kahl's abrupt departure in 1976 had on the next generation - whether by way of his absence or his reluctance to be a true mentor - deserve more space than alotted. Similarly, the reader wants to know more about how veteran Eric Larson was treated by Disney executives who handed over "The Small One" to the ambitious Don Bluth, who later broke ranks and left the studio to start his own production company leaving the studio talent pool seriously decimated.
Canemaker is both the obvious choice and greatest risk for authoring this important animated version of "The Lives of the Artists" (Cainmaker states it was his hope to emulate Vasari's work) as he is admittedly very close to two of his subjects - animators and authors Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. Similarly, Ward Kimball and the late Marc Davis were friends of the author's, but he pulls fewer punches in his sharp but loving focus on the latter two. Even so, it would be hard to imagine any other author would have such an unprecedented level of trust from his subjects and their parent company, and thus such privileged access. And though his focus seems less sharp in the chapters on Thomas and Johnston, any biographer suffers from similar lapses when focusing on a living subject, particularly one whom they and the vast majority of the public hold in great affectionate esteem.
The book makes it clear that the memories of the living affect a much harsher view of the dead from among this old boy's network of disparate personalities who helped to define something as far reaching in popular culture as Disney's animated characters. Withered rivalries and carefully aged egos still pepper the perspective here and it only adds to the books ability to evoke something real, and not just the Halceon days of animation. The fact that the dead can't defend themselves even through living relatives and numerous ex-wives is a minor and admittedly unavoidable flaw, and in his preface Canemaker attempts to acknowledge it with a quote from a letter from Thomas to the author re undertaking the project. Even with obvious affection personal favorites, the author has done a terrific job of sharing insights into the passions of each of these nine men whose personalities were made immortal once filtered through such old friends as Captain Hook and Cruella DeVil.
It's to Canemaker's credit that we long for even more on each of these animators -- particularly Kahl and Larson -- and more examples of what made them great animators. Which brings us to the book's only glaring flaw: the illustrations. There simply aren't enough examples of scenes and sequences attributed to each artist -- particularly raw pencil drawings -- and the quality of photo reproductions from finished film frames and other archival material seems oddly yellow or green in tint and not up to the usual Disney publishing standards. e.g. a series of frames showing the Duke from "Cinderella" rolling his monocle between his fingers is so dark that you can barely see the referenced movement it serves to illustrate. This is greatly disappointing. Granted that many such sequences are found in Thomas & Johnston's "The Illusion of Life", but the book is out of print, and the vast resources of the Disney Animation Research Library as well as Mr. Canemaker's personal collection must be able to yield fresher and more fitting illustrations than what's found here. Again, Kahl's chapter gives us more to feast on than others, but it still isn't enough. After all, this is a visual medium we're discussing and a picture here only serves to give us reason to read another thousand written words. But, be that as it may, the book is both a MUST READ and a MUST HAVE for anyone interested in film history, animation, acting and/or Disneyana, and one hopes that Mr. Canemaker's upcoming book on Disney artist Mary Blair heralds a series of more extensive and more intimate (and hopefully much better illustrated) biographies on Kahl, Davis, Reitherman et. al. A long awaited and fine accomplishment, and easily the best book from Disney's publishing arm in 2001.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Nine Lives 12 Jan. 2003
By J. D Suggs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So much has been written and said about several of these nine legendary Disney animators that I very much doubted a lot of new ground was going to be broken, especially in a Hyperion release, but Canemaker rises to the task here, and then some. I was most interested in artists like Les Clark and Johnny Lounsbery, who have received less attention than some of the others. Canemaker not only brings them vividly to life with meticulous research, but he also manages to bring new information and fresh insight to all nine of his fascinating subjects. No matter how well you thought you knew the Nine Old Men and their work, there's plenty here for you. This book reveals the lives and personalities of these men, analyzes their contributions extraordinarily well, and also their working and personal relationships with each other, and presents great new visual material from their lives in and away from the studio. The Kimball stuff is a special treat.
Who could have imagined that Marc Davis' early life was as interesting as his work? Or that Kimball and Kahl were even crazier than you thought (and even more brilliant)? Ot that the master, Frank Thomas, actually struggled with his draftsmanship? Canemaker captures the promise of each of these men's pre-Disney careers and the spark in the work that caught Walt's attention is always evident. He also captures the human quirks that played a tremendous role in the golden age of the studio and often found its way onto the screen as well.
Much of this information and all of Canemaker's excellent insight would not have come to light without his diligent effort and research, and the result is a well-written, revealing, tasteful, and very visual masterpiece.
PS We lost the great, one-and-only Ward Kimball recently...only Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas are still with us now. God bless you both.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Artbook and biography of your favorites 29 April 2011
By Stop Motion Maniac - Published on Amazon.com
This is one of my favorite Canemaker titles. It's a large book with a little over 300 pages on thick paperstock and beautiful printing. I grew up with the Disney of 70's and also watched everything before so this book is especially nice because it contains the biographies and artwork of the nine animators responsible for those early Disney animations. In addition to wonderfully written text, you get photos of from each artist's life and many many images of the artwork. This could have been one of those hardback biographies printed on cheap paper, some grainy photos, and a middle section with maybe 6 pages of glossy artwork. Instead this is a gorgeous artbook in its own right. A wonderful tribute to the people who brought us the early beloved Disney animations. A must for the Disney library.
A Must-Have for animation and Disney Enthusiasts 25 Oct. 2011
By George H. Taylor Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Walt Disney's Nine Old Men is the first book to take an in-depth look at the artists that shaped the Walt Disney Studios before and after Walt's passing. The Nine Old Men reference relates to Franklin Roosevelt's description of the Supreme Court Justices--Walt used it as a joke and it stuck. The Nine Old Men would become the most creative and powerful people at the Studios. The litany of characters that they have brought to life is simply astounding.

John Canemaker is an animation historian, animator and professor of film animation at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. He is a very successful author with seven books (three just about Disney animation) and 100's of essays and articles to his name. Mr. Canemaker is also noted for several award-winning short films.

Mr. Canemaker begins the book with a look at the Nine Old Men's formative years: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Most of the Nine Old Men were hired at the Studios in the mid-1930's. Before them, were legendary men that were mentors and friends to the new artists. Vladmir Tytla, Grim Natwick, Norman Ferguson, Hamilton Luske and Fred Moore were put in charge of various departments and sections of Snow White. As time progressed, many of the Nine Old Men were mentored by these animation pioneers. For many reasons, the previously mentioned animators left Disney or found they could not keep up with the younger crowd. Mr. Canemaker touches on the influential animator's lives throughout the chapters on the Nine Old Men.

Disney's Nine Old Men:

Les Clark,
Wolfgang Reitherman,
Eric Larson,
Ward Kimbal,
Milt Kahl,
Frank Thomas,
Ollie Johnston
John Lounsberry, and
Marc Davis.

Mr. Canemaker devotes a chapter to each animator and takes you from their birth to the present day (in 2001) or their passing--he has created a condensed biography and Mr. Canemaker successfully brings the important details to the top that seem relevant to the creation of the animators. You follow each artist from their birth, early family life, school, travels and eventual beginnings at Disney. All of the Nine Old Men stayed with the Disney organization until their retirement They were also faithful to the Studio during the Strike. Undoubtedly, this cemented Walt's opinion of them. Family photographs, animated film stills and corporate images fill the volume. Mr. Canemaker shares a lot of great anecdotes about the artists. Did you know that Ward Kimball attended over 22 schools growing up and that Marc Davis' family traveled the country, rarely settling in one place for more than a few months? Wolfgang Reitherman was a pilot in World War II and claims that he was only a director because Walt told him to be one.

Throughout each chapter, Mr. Canemaker shares what makes each animator so important to the Disney Studios and animation. As you go through the chapters, you see each animator as a different personality to the whole. Each one distinct and filling a specific role within the Studios. After the Animation Strike, the Nine Old Men were charged with being the review committee for the Studios. A film couldn't be made without their direct involvement and an artist could be fired at their whim. After Walt's passing, the Nine Old Men were the creative force and were often left stumbling as to the direction to be taken at the Studio.

As expected, a majority of the book does focus on animation. Marc Davis was really the only one of the Nine Old Men asked to work on the Disneyland Project. The book does cover that section of Marc's career; starting with the Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland in 1962, the World's Fair attractions, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. Ward Kimball is mentioned in conjunction with Disneyland through his shared loved of trains with Walt. This book truly shines as a mini-biography of the Nine Old Men and how they moved the art of animation forward.

Bottom Line: This is a book that I highly recommend for animation enthusiasts and people interested in the Disney Studios formative years. It brings together information about the early years of the Studio and the roles of the Nine Old Men in animation, the Studio and the Company--unlike any other resource. Most of the book does deal with animation and the classic characters that were created but it does focus on the theme parks with Marc Davis and Ward Kimball's contributions.

You want this book if you have any interest in learning more about the Nine Old Men and their art.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Old Disney Animation Prrocess 13 April 2009
By Nicholas A. Lujan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very nicely put together book. If you are into animation, this book is for you. Beautiful illustrations, there are some parts that drag a little bit. A good book for any person who wants to know how Disney put together their masterpeices.
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