31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Note: This review is of the most recently issued (2008) version.
I find it difficult to believe that it has been 47 years since this film first appeared. (I also find it difficult to believe that I now have ten grandchildren with whom to watch it.) Credit the Disney organization with providing with this latest restored version a generous selection of bonus features that substantially increase the pleasure of seeing this classic film once again. They include a DVD-ROM of a "Virtual Dalmatians Game," "Op-Up Trivia Facts," and "The Making of One Hundred and One Dalmations," and correspondence between "Sincerely yours, Walt Disney" and Dodie Smith, author of the novel on which the film is based.
The basic plot involves two lonely dalmatians (Pongo and Perdita) who meet in a London park and whose owners then meet and marry. Over time, the dalmatians become parents of 15 puppies who are stolen by Cruella De Vil who is determined to make a fur coat out of their skins. That doesn't happen, of course, but younger children get all caught up in efforts to rescue the puppies (at least when viewing the film for the first time) just as they do when hoping that Pinocchio will be reunited with Gepetto, that Snow White will awaken from her deep sleep, and that Belle and the Beast will live happily ever after. In the best of Disney's animated features, there always seems to be a subtext of menace and this film is no exception. When observing Cruella De Vil's behavior, many of those in my generation will be reminded of Gloria Swanson's portrayal of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. In terms of quality of its story, art, and music, 101 Dalmatians deserves to be ranked among Disney's finest animated films. The special features offer an exceptional "bonus."
My only concern, frankly, is that once again, many adults who are charmed by the Dalmatian puppies will decide -- or feel great pressure from children -- to purchase one. They would be well-advised to learn all about the breed first. Perhaps the next time around, Disney could add a special feature that provides such information. Just a thought....
on 4 March 2015
101 DALMATIANS  [Diamond Edition] [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD] [US Import] 101 Times The Fun For The Whole Family! New All-Cartoon Feature! 17th Animated Feature!
Pick your favourite spot to watch anytime and anywhere and get ready for a fun-filled adventure with `101 DALMATIANS' for the first time ever on Blu-ray and Digital HD!
Pongo, Perdita and their super-adorable puppies are in for thrills, hilarious spills and an epic action-packed adventure when they face off with Cruella De Vil, Disney's most fabulously outrageous villainess. Unleash all the excitement and suspense of Disney's `101 DALMATIANS' which is a beloved classic you'll want to share with your family again and again! Narrated by Rod Taylor.
FILM FACT: Unlike many Walt Disney animated features; `One Hundred and One Dalmatians' features only three songs, with just one, "Cruella De Vil," playing a big part in the film. The other two songs are "Kanine Krunchies Jingle" (sung by Lucille Bliss, who voiced Anastasia Tremaine in Disney's 1950 film `Cinderella'), and "Dalmatian Plantation" in which only two lines are sung by Roger at the film's closure. Songwriter Mel Leven had in fact, written several additional songs for the film including "Don't Buy a Parrot from a Sailor," a cockney chant, meant to be sung by the Baduns at the De Vil Mansion, and "March of the One Hundred and One," which the dogs were meant to sing after escaping Cruella De Vil's van.
Voice Cast: Rod Taylor, Cate Bauer, Betty Lou Gerson, Ben Wright, Lisa Davis, Martha Wentworth, Frederick Worlock, Pat O'Malley, Thurl Ravenscroft, David Frankham, Barbara Baird, Mickey Maga, Sandra Abbott, Mimi Gibson and Tom Conway
Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Wolfgang Reitherman
Producer: Walt Disney
Screenplay: Bill Peet and Dodie Smith (author)
Composer: George Bruns and Mel Leven
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English: 7.1 DTS-HD master Audio, English: Original Theatrical Mix, French: 5.1 DTS-HD High Resolution and Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French and Spanish
Running Time: 79 minutes
Region: Blu-ray: All Regions and DVD: NTSC
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Arriving on Blu-ray is Walt Disney's latest Diamond Edition, the 1961 classic `101 Dalmatians.' This animation film has raked in $millions over the years, spawned a sequel and live-action remakes, and helped make Dalmatians one of the most highly sought-after of dog animation film of all time, apart from `Lady and The Tramp' of course and regardless of its long-term influence, `101 Dalmatians' remains an endearing beautiful classic and this new Blu-ray edition offers a terrific way to revisit one of Walt Disney's beautiful interpretation of the classic novel by Dodie Smith.
Based on the Dodie Smith's 1956 novel "The One Hundred and One Dalmatians" as was the film during its initial release. `101 Dalmatians' pretty much saved the animation department of Walt Disney Studios following losses incurred following the expensive `Sleeping Beauty,' initially a commercial disappointment upon its release two years earlier. As explained in some of the Blu-ray bonus features, the use of Xerox photography was basically a Godsend in terms of reducing the budget. There were also other cost-saving animation breakthroughs made during production, particularly affecting the sequence in which villainess Cruella De Vil's car is stuck in the snow, utilising live-action photography as their basis. All of this is delved into within the Diamond Edition supplements. Anyone who thought Dalmatians was just another Walt Disney animated classic will come away from this edition with a deeper sense of respect for the studio's innovations and determination.
The concise storytelling, all fitting tidily within a brisk 79 minutes, continues to makes Dalmatians one of the easiest Disney classics to revisit again and again. Maybe it has something to do with its "real world," then-contemporary setting, which is a nice change of pace from the fairy tale lands and more elaborately fantasy-based and/or "period piece" settings of previous Walt Disney animated films. In London, bachelor Roger (voiced by Ben Wright) is a songwriter looking for a big hit. His beloved Dalmatian Pongo (voiced by Rod Taylor) wants to see his master paired with a suitable female companion. He plays matchmaker and soon Roger has a mate in Anita [Lisa Davis], who just so happens to have a Dalmatian of her own, Perdita [Cate Bauer]. Soon a litter of 15 Dalmatian pups is birthed. Enter one of Walt Disney's most enduring villains, the fearsome Cruella De Vil (Betty Lou Gerson, previously the uncredited narrator of Walt Disney's `Cinderella'), who wants to skin scores of Dalmatians for a fur coat.
While the story moves steadily toward a stark, melodramatic "chase" climax, it remains enclosed in a typical Disney frame of warm family love, human and canine. And as adapted by Bill Peet and directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, Hamilton. S. Luske and Slyde Geronimi, it offers likable, human-voiced sprinters.
One of the most appealing things of all is the opening, the meeting of a gentle young London couple and the honeymoon aura of their "poor but happy" love nest, with Pongo, the Dalmatian hero, his mate and their cute, polka-dotted twitchers (and television fans). A sweet-scented, Valentine flavour pervades these early scenes, blending nicely with the muted, pastel backgrounds of Ken Anderson. All is serene. Just the same, Pongo, a testy mutt after our own heart, watches over the household of his "pets" (the couple), he assures us.
Enter, like a blow-torch, Cruella De Vil, with two cockney aides ready to spirit Pongo's fifteen puppies away to the moors and her Dalmatian reservoir of eighty-six puppies. Imagine a sadistic Auntie Mame, drawn by Charles Addams and with a Tallulah Bankhead bass. This is what hounds the poor dogs, all 101 of them, for the rest of the film, until the wild, hair-raising climax, when the lady sails off a cliff. Anyway, the kids who survived "Psycho" should survive Cruella De Vil.
The most original sequence, though, is pure, unstartling Disney --when Pongo and his mate howl out an SOS code for news of their stolen pups, echoed from London to the moors (and a helpful, "Colonel Blimp" sheepdog) by a four-footed "underground." Even so, the animal round-up here is rather reminiscent and a far cry from the salty denizens of the `Lady and the Tramp' animation film. Songs are slightly scarce compared to other Walt Disney animation films and a few more songs would have made the animation film even more magical, but despite this, it is still a magical animation extravaganza.
This was an era in which appropriate voice talent was cast for animated films, vastly different from today's all-star voice cast model. While some of the voice actors were well known for their physical acting roles, particularly Rod Taylor in this case, the focus seemed to be more specifically on matching the right voice to the right part -- regardless of "marquee value." Rather than "spot the celebrity" voice, audiences could simply appreciate the character that these generally unsung talents brought to their roles. 101 Dalmatians is a great example of the natural, unforced brilliance of the voice acting in Disney's vintage animated films. With "Cruella De Vil" being the only real featured song in the whole film (and what an unforgettable one it is), Dalmatians soars on the strengths of more subtle charms.
Some straight Walt Disney hilarity would have been even better, for all the side-line touches. Even with a lady Lucifer ["Cruella De Vil"] hell-bent for their hides, those Dalmatians are a friendly lot worth knowing.
Blu-ray Video Quality - `101 Dalmations' looks totally grand, as well as totally awesome on this new Blu-ray and especially with a stunning new 1080p encoded transfer and with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, that brings to mind other Diamond Edition releases. In other words, it doesn't sport the natural grain inherent in a film of its era, opting for a more "modernised" grain-free appearance. But whatever DNR [Digital Noise reduction] was applied, to my eyes it didn't result in any serious compromise to fine detail. The colours are vibrant and the dreary look of London creates a great backdrop for the story. The detail on the puppies is amazing and the impressionistic backgrounds help give the characters depth.
Blu-ray Audio Quality - The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround mix, is also typical of the other recent Diamond Editions, that doesn't overdo things in terms of expanding what was original a mono audio presentation. The main thing that sounds great is the musical score, which has been stretched out across the surround spectrum quite nicely. The original mono mix is present as a Dolby Digital track. Music and effects fill the channels. Vehicles can be heard panning across the soundscape and barking echoes throughout.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
The Further Adventures of Thunderbolt  [1080p] [4:3] [1:46] Here we get to see the follow up and final episode of the animated short, that we first encountered in `101 Dalmatians' in which the black-and-white television star Thunderbolt survives a fall down a waterfall and captures the horse thief. I know children will love this, as did the Dalmatians in the animated film.
Feature Documentary: Lucky Dogs  [1080p] [16:9] [9:08] Here we get to be introduced to the very talented Disney animation artists who produced `101 Dalmatians' and contributing to this fascinating documentary are Rolly Crump [Animation/Imagineering]; Carmen Sanderson [Ink and Paint], Burney Mattison [Animation]; Floyd Norman [Animation]; Don Iwerks [Film Production] and Lisa Davis [Voice of Anita]. We are also informed that `101 Dalmatians' was outline the under-staffed production and its hurdles, the time-saving incorporation of Xerox copying, Walt Disney's initial distaste for such shortcuts, and other topics. But most of all we get to see a cute Dalmatian dog wandering all about the Walt Disney Animation building.
Dalmatians 101  [1080p] [16:9] [5:19] This is hosted by Young Cameron Boyce (who plays Cruella De Vil's son in Disney's `Descendants'). Here we get see the obnoxious precocious Cameron Boyce telling us about the "411 on 101," meaning 5 reasons why `One Hundred and One Dalmatians' is the best Dog-gone Disney Dog Movie of All Time. There are 5 categories and they go in reverse order as such: No.5: It's Totally Modern; No.4: Talkin' `Bout Tech; No.3: Puppies!!!; No.2: Cool Guest Stars and No.1: Cruella De Vil. Get the sick bag ready.
Walt Disney Presents: The Best Doggoned Dog in the World  [1080p] [4:3] [51:05] The tenth episode of "The Wonderful World of Disney's" fourth season. This was one of the regular Walt Disney Television programme we use to see each week and this one is entitled "Adventure World" where we get to see a little adventure about two brave sheep dogs and especially the one that saves 5 sheep, but who nearly drowned, but eventually get herded back to the sheep dog owner. We also get to see Walt Disney talk about the historic facts of man's best friend from all over the world. Plus Walt Disney introduces us to several clips from the up and coming animation film `101 Dalmatians' and because it was broadcast in 1961, it was of course films in black-and-white.
Classic Bonus Feature:
Redefining the Line: The Making of 101 Dalmatians   [4:3] [33:54] This bonus feature is split up into 7 sections, which consist of Puppy Dog Tales [5:33]; Howling at the Moon [3:36]; New Tricks [5:16]; Animation 101 [7:51]; Drawing All Cars [4:12]; Seeing Spots [5:45] and A Dog's Eye View [1:40].
Cruella De Vil: Drawn to Be Bad  [1080p] [4:3] [7:08] Here we get to meet again the famous Walt Disney Animation Artists talking about the infamous villain Cruella de Vil, and contributing in this feature documentary are Andreas Deja; Walt Peregoy; Floyd Norman; Jerry Beck; Will Finn; Pete Docter; Brad Bird; Burny Mattison; Harley Jessup; Paula Sigman; Don Hahn; Bill Sinbley; Marc Davis ; Alice Davis and Ron Clements.
"Sincerely Yours, Walt Disney"  [1080p] [4:3] [12:47] In the years preceding the release of `One Hundred and One Dalmatians' Walt Disney began a personal correspondence with the book's author, Dodie Smith. Their letters have been uncovered by the studio archives and presented her is a dramatic re-creation. Sadly we get no information on which the actors are in this piece.
Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots [1961 Original Release] Teaser Trailer: Adapted for CinemaScope [1080p] [4:3] [0:41]; Theatrical Trailer [1080p] [4:3] [1:52] and TV Spots [1080p] [4:3] [0:31]
Trailers and TV Spots [1969 Reissue] Theatrical Trailer [1080p] [4:3] [1:07]; TV Spot #1 [1080p] [4:3] [0:31] and TV Spot #2 [1080p] [4:3] [0:31]
Combined TV Spots with Swiss Family Robinson Trailer [1080p] [4:3] [0:31]
Trailers and TV Spots [1979 Reissue] Theatrical Trailer [1080p] [4:3] [1:34]; TV Spot #1 [1080p] [4:3] [0:31]; TV Spot #2 1080p] [4:3] [0:31] and French Canadian TV Spot [1080p] [[4:3] [0:30] [with English Yellow Subtitles]
Trailers and TV Spots [1985 Reissue] Theatrical trailer [1080p] [4:3] [1:22]
Promotional Radio Spots [1961 Original Release] 60 Second; 30 Second and 10 Second
Music & More Bonus Content:
"Cruella De Vil" Music Video performed by [ghastly obnoxious] Selena Gomez [1080p] [4:3] [3:24]
"March Of The One Hundred And One" [Deleted Song Sequence] [1080p] [4:3] [3:24]
Abandoned Songs [Introduced by Russell Schroeder] "Cheerio, Goodbye, Toodle-oo, Hip Hip!" [1080p] [4:3] [2:31] and "Don't Buy A Parrot From A Sailor" [1080p] [4:3] [2:38]
Demo Recordings and Alternate Versions: "Dalmatian Plantation" [Extended Alternate Version] [1080p] [4:3] [2:44] and [Temp version] [1080p] [4:3] [1:02]
"Cruella De Vil" [Demo Recordings] Spooky Version [1080p] [16:9] [3:46] and Blues Ballad Version [1080p] [16:9] [2:14]
"Cruella De Vil" [Roger Version] Roger Composing #1 By Ben Wright [1080p] [4:3] [3:24] and Roger Composing #2 By Billy Lee [1080p] [16:9] [4:29]
Honky-Tonk Version [1080p] [16:9] [1:22]
"Cruella De Vil" [Radio Hit Alternate Versions] Alternate #1 [1080p] [16:9] [ 1:12]; Alternate #2 [1080p] [16:9] [ 2;23] and Alternate #3 [1080p] [16:9] [ 1:08]
"Kanine Krunchies" British; Very Young; Young; Little Boy; Flubbed Take; False Start; Older English [Incomplete]; Younger British and Eton Boy [1080p] [16:9] [5:14]
Sneak Peaks: Disney Movies Anywhere Advert Promotion [1080p] [16:9] [0:40]; Aladdin [Diamond Edition] [1080p] [16:9] [1:18]; Cinderella [2015 Film Promotion] [1080p] [16:9] [0:16]; Disney DVD Magic Advert Promotion [1080p] [16:9] [0:19]; Disney Parks.com Advert Promotion [1080p] [16:9] [0:30]; Dog With A Blog Disney TV Advert [1080p] [16:9] [0:31]; LucasFilm Star Wars `The Clone Wars' [Blu-ray + DVD] [1080p] [2.55:1] [2:42]; Big Hero 6 [Blu-ray + Digital HD] [1080p] [2.55:1] [1:36] and Tinker Bell and the legend of The Neverbeast [Blu-ray + Digital HD] [1080p] [16:9] [1:31]
Finally, `101 Dalmatians' is Walt Disney at its best. The storyline serves as a solid foundation for the animation film to build from. The puppies with their different personalities are adorable. You come to care about them and their safety, and the farm animals introduced during the rescue are delightful supporting characters. Cruella De Vil is also the most perfect villain that you will love to hate. All in all these elements together make for a totally amusing and entertaining film. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller - Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom