Walt Disney has given us so much over the last hundred years (well, not quite...but getting there!), some of it wonderful and some - particularly of late - distinctly mediocre (though Ratatouille is a triumph).
Everyone has their favourite Disney film - his own was apparently Bambi - but I'm sure a great many of us would pick this one. It was the first film I was ever taken to see at a cinema, so for me there's no contest.
Its influence extends to this day - just the other month I bought a Louis Prima CD set, memories of his towering performance as the voice of Orang-Utang King Louie burned forever into my memory. And as for The Bear Necessities, they play it in clubs nowadays...and it fills the dancefloor!
Indeed, despite Disney often being accused of cheapening or Americanising children's classics (and none of us who live in London will ever quite forgive Dick Van Dyke's accent in Mary Poppins), this film stands up a whole lot better than the book which inspired it, Kipling having been neither even a tad politically correct nor an instinctive children's writer. In some ways, however, the film echoes the sixties in which it was made: the vultures are clearly based on The Beatles and a couple have reasonable Scouse accents. One sounds like Stanley Holloway in My Fair Lady, but there you go - at least it's not Dick Van Dyke!
And now those Vultures will be joined by a new character - a rhino Uncle Walt didn't like at the audition. It may be a gimmick but I'm a little bit intrigued. Aren't you?
A marvellous film for kids and adults alike - and what a Christmas present!
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