At Last

Ok, so “Hare We Go” is not on DVD.

But. Finally.

Disney is releasing a DVD edition of The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. Easily my favorite thing ever on the Wonderful World of Disney when I was a kid.

Speaking of which, my daughter watched the old version of The Shaggy Dog and The Shaggy D.A. recently. (She likes the new version with Tim Allen, so she was curious.)

We also watched a bit of The Million-Dollar Duck, which I vaguely remember liking when I was a kid. It was terribly slow-paced, actually. Also the view of science in it is really hilarious: the head scientist who is doing learning experiments with mazes wants the duck out of it because it does so poorly at the experiment. (The head scientist is also something of over-the-top Jewish stereotype.) Then the duck wanders onto a conveyor belt where scientists are zapping a wide variety of objects with intense radiation, for no particular reason. The duck gets zapped, but they’re all totally nonplussed about it and Dick Jones’ character happily walks out with an almost-certainly radioactive duck under his arms. But that was Disney’s characteristic take on science at that point: a boundless production of wonders but also a hive of eccentricity.

Anyway, it made me wonder. I know the cultural studies literature on Disney, Disneyland and Disney films and TV somewhat well, but has anybody done a really detailed analysis of the 1960s-1970s live action films as a whole body of work? These are the films that conventional wisdom held were killing off the studio, to which it initially made fumbling responses in films like The Black Hole. I know individual stuff like the Davy Crockett films has drawn considerable attention, but there’s a kind of interesting feel to all of the films when you see them in close proximity to one another. There was an ensemble cast that reappeared constantly in these films (Dick Jones, Sandy Duncan, Kurt Russell, Keenan Wynn, Joe Flynn, Dick Van Patten, Kurt Russell, Tim Conway, Jo Anne Worley, etc.). The whole package is kind of like an alternative sitcom world, a sort of TV-on-the-movie-screen.

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