Welcome back to the Disney time line. In this part we will be looking at the years between 1954 – 1956. So lets jump in to 1954.
1954 – Rob Roy the highland rouge.
Rob Ray the highland rouge was the fourth and final film made with the money Disney had made in the UK during the war which couldn’t be exported.
The film takes place in the early 18th century. The Scottish had been revolting against the England’s German king George for his heavy taxation policy. England’s army had crushed the uprising with only a few rebels left who were lead by Rob Roy.
Disney later admitted that the box office returns of this and The sword in the rose were ‘not up to expectations’ in the US but they performed better in other countries. As a resulted in Disney pulling back on making costume pictures.
The Vanishing Prairie is a documentary film. The film opens with a paint brush. The introductory animated sequence teaches about the area and how the native americans understood the balance that was created by animals.
The Vanishing prairie premiered on 16th August 1954 in New York. Critics and audience adored the film. It even won the Academy award for best documentary film.
20,000 leagues under the sea is adapted from Jules Verne’s 19th century novel Twenty thousand leagues under the sea and is considered an early precursor of the steampunk genre. It was also the first science fiction film shot in Cinemascope.
The film follows a ship that is sent to investigate a wave of mysterious sinking.
Walt constructed a huge new sound stage on his studio lot which included a massive indoor tank. Some underwater footage filmed on location in the crystal clear waters of Nassau in the Bahamas. For eight weeks a 54 member crew shot more underwater footage than had ever been seen in a film up to that period. Custom waterproof case’s for the cameras and the cinemascope viewfinders were devised. Some of the location filming sequences were so complex that they required a technical crew of more than 400 people. Cost overruns during production made the film very expensive for a Disney production.
Upon the film’s original release the film had generally positive reviews. The film was also praised for the performances of the lead actors. It became the second highest grossing film that year (behind white christmas) earning $8 million at the box office in north america. The film won two Academy Awards for best art direction and best special effects.
The modern day audience remember the film primarily for its giant squid battle sequence as well as the Nautilus and James Mason’s portrayal of Nemo.
Disneyland used the original set as a walk through attraction from 1955 to 1966.
Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom also had a ride named 20,000 leagues under the sea: submarine voyage from 1971 to 1994. Which consisted of a submarine ride, complete with the giant squid attack.
1995 – Disneyland opens.
Disneyland was opened on 17th July 1955 and is the only theme park designed and built under the direct supervision of Walt Disney himself.
Walt came up with the concept of Disneyland after visiting various amusement parks with his daughters. He first envisioned building a tourist attraction adjacent to his studios in Burbank. However he soon realised that the site was too small. After hiring a consultant to help him find an appropriate site. Disney brought a 160 acre site in 1953. Construction began in 1954 and the park was unveiled during a special television press event on ABC.
In the film the Legends from the life of famed American frontiersman Davy Crockett are depicted. Released as a result of the enormous success of the three television episodes which were first shown on the Disney anthology television series. The film remains Walt Disney’s most successful television film project.
Lady and the Tramp enters on the romance between a pampered pooch and a streetwise mutt. The film made many first. It was the first Disney animated feature with an everyday American setting and the first animated feature to be photographed in the new widescreen format of Cinemascope.
In 1937 Disney story man Joe Grant come up with an idea inspired by the antics of his English springer spaniel lady and how she got ‘shoved aside’ by Joe’s new baby. He approached Walt with sketches of Lady. Disney enjoyed the sketches and commissioned Joe to start story development on Lady. Through the late 1930’s early 1940’s Joe and other artists worked on the story taking a variety of approaches. Disney wasn’t pleased with any of them because he thought Lady was too sweet and there was not enough action.
In the 1940s Walt read the short story written by Ward Greene “Happy dan, The Whistling Dog” in Cosmopolitan Magazine. He thought Grant’s story would be improved if Lady fell in love with a cynical dog like in Greene’s story and brought the rights to it. The cynical dog had many different names including Homer, Rags and Bozo before Tramp was chosen.
The artists studied real animals to animate. The model dog for Tramp was actually a female stray found by story artist Ed Penner.
Although the spaghetti eating sequence is probably now the best known scene from the film Walt was prepared to cut it thinking that it would not be romantic and would look silly. Animator Frank Thomas was against that decision and animated the entire scene himself. Walt was impressed by his work and how he romanticised the scene and kept it in.
Originally Lady and the Tramp was planned to be filmed in regular full frame aspect ratio. However due to the growing interest of widescreen film amongst movie goers so Disney decided to animate the film in cinemascope.
Problems arose as the premiere got closer since not all theatres had the capability to show cinemascope at the time. Upon learning this Walt issued two versions of the film one widescreen and another in Academy ratio.
The film was originally released in theatres on 22nd June 1955. At the time the film took in a higher figure than any other Disney animated feature since Snow White earning an estimated $7.5 million at the box office. Lady and the Tramp received generally favourable reviews on Rotten Tomatoes 34 out of 38 critics voted fresh the other 4 voted rotten. This gives the movie 89%.
The African Lion is a feature length documentary as part of the true life adventure series. The film which was shot over three years focuses on the life of the lion within the complexity of the African ecosystem.
Pablito is a ten year old son of a cruel horse trainer. The trainer is responsible for training Mexican general’s horse to jump for a grand race. The trainers methods cause the house to become afraid of jumping and the general orders the animals death. Pablito runs away with the horse becoming a fugitive.
The littlest outlaw received a mildly critical reception most critics dismissed the film as a routine affair.
1956 – The great locomotive chase.
Based on the real great locomotive chase that occurred in 1862 during the American civil war.
This is a prequel to 1955s Davy Crockett king of the wild frontier and is an edited compilation of the fourth and fifth stories of the Davy Crockett television series.
Secrets of life.
American documentary film written and directed by James Algar. The documentary follows the changing world of nature.
Based on Mary Jane Carr’s novel children of the covered wagon. The adventure of a group of pioneers as their wagon train crosses the west.
In the next part we will be looking at 1957 – 1959 these years include Old yellow and Sleeping beauty.
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