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Monday, June 1, 2015

101 Dalmatians-31 Trivia Tidbits!

This past month, we covered the Disney animated film 101 Dalmatians in my Walt Disney Maniacs group.  Here is a synopsis of the Tidbits we covered in May:

1. If you've somehow forgotten, the 1961 movie focuses on Pongo and Perdita, two proud Dalmatian parents, and their search for their 15 puppies, who have been kidnapped by the nasty Cruella De Vil.

2.  De Vil wants to skin the dogs for her luxurious new fur coat but gets no help from her bumbling sidekicks, Jasper and Horace. Along their adventure, Pongo and Perdy team up with a countryside full of farm animals, rescue 84 additional stray Dalmatian pups, and return to the home of their owners, the Radcliffes, with a family in the triple digits.

3.  You may think you know everything about the beloved family film, but did you know about the dogs' alien adventures or their connection to the rock band Styx? With sequels, TV shows, remakes and a stage show under its belt, '101 Dalmatians' has amassed a long and impressive history, full of surprising nuggets of trivia.
Additional information:

4.  Technically, the official title is 'One Hundred and One Dalmatians,' but since it's a chore to write that out, it often gets shortened to '101 Dalmatians.'

5.  The film is based on the 1956 book 'The Hundred and One Dalmatians' by English novelist Dodie Smith.
6.  Dodie Smith (The author of The Hundred and One Dalmatians) herself was the proud owner of nine Dalmatians, including one named Pongo.
7.   At one point, Pongo did have a litter of 15 puppies. One of them was stillborn, but Smith's husband managed to revive it.

8.  Smith was inspired to write the book after a friend told her "Those dogs would make a lovely fur coat."

9.  Smith's story was first serialized in 'Ladies' Home Journal' as 'The Great Dog Robbery.'

10. In the book, Pongo and Perdita are not the parents of the puppies. In the book, the couple is Pongo and Missis Pongo; Perdita is a stray, who had her puppies sold away, and she becomes the wet nurse for Missis' 15 pups.

11. In 1967, Smith published 'The Starlight Barking,' a sequel.
12. In 'The Starlight Brigade,' the Dalmatian family teams up with a few strays and some "honorary dogs" (aka cats) to investigate the mystery of why every human in the country -- including their owners, the Dearlys, and Cruella De Vil -- has fallen into a deep sleep, unable to wake up.

13. Then they are visited by Sirius, Lord of the Dog Star, an extraterrestrial dog who appears as the breed of whatever dog is speaking to him.
He explains that he has come to Earth to rescue all dogs from the threat of nuclear war and owner abuse, by taking them to outer space with him.
A council of dogs, led by Pongo, must deliberate on whether to leave the planet or not.

14. One reason Smith wrote the sequel is because Walt Disney kept sending her letters urging her to make more Dalmatian stories they could adapt.

15. 101 Dalmatians' has the distinction of being the first animated Disney film to take place in a contemporary setting.

16. Getting 'Dalmatians' made into a movie was not easy; Disney was undergoing a budget crisis after their previous film, 'Sleeping Beauty,' had been deemed a commercial failure.

17. Prior to the production of this movie, Disney's animation staff had been cut from over 500 to less than 100 animators.

18. Production was finally made possible due to the development of Xerography.

19. Xerography-based animation was developed when legendary Ub Iwerks began experimenting with Xerox photography. In 1959, he developed a Xerox camera that could transfer animator's drawings directly to cells, forgoing the need for inking.

20. The xerography style resulted in hard, scratchy outlines on the final drawings, which then forced Disney animators to change the look of their characters from softer and rounder to more angular and stylized.

21.  Walt Disney reportedly disliked the Xerox-based style. Still, the Xerox technique allowed the film to come in on budget.

22. All of the moving cars in the movie are based on live-action footage of cars painted black and white.

23. Walt Disney hired actors to perform live-action scenes of all the human characters to serve as a reference for the animators and to find out if those scenes were feasible to animate.

24. Animators painted all the Dalmatian spots by treating them as constellations, forming a fixed pattern design.  Pongo sports 72 spots, Perdita sports 68, and each of the 99 puppies has exactly 32 spots.

25. Traditionally, Disney's top team of animators -- known collectively as "the Nine Old Men" -- each animated a single lead character for the entire movie. This was the first production where they teamed up on characters together. Seven of the nine animated Perdita. The only one of the Nine Old Men who worked on his own individual character was Marc Davis, who animated Cruella De Vil.
Disney's Nine Old Men
26. Cruella was ranked 31st on the American Film Institute's List of 100 Greatest On-Screen Heroes and Villains. In Italy, she is known as "Crudelia De Mon" -- a play off the word "demon." In France, she is known as "Cruella D'Enfer" -- meaning "From Hell." Synth-metal band Deadsy wrote a tribute song to her entitled, 'Cruella.' The thunder that claps when she first appears is a sound effect from 'Bambi.'

27. Cruella was voiced not by Bankhead but by actress Betty Lou Gerson; she was honored as a "Disney Legend" in 1996.

28. The film was different from previous Disney films in that it featured only three songs, just one of which -- Cruella's theme song -- was performed in its entirety. Several more songs were composed by Mel Leven that have never been heard.

29. Captain the Horse (the equine friend of Tibbs the Cat and Colonel the Sheepdog) is voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft. You might know Thurl as the voice of Tony the Tiger, and as the uncredited singer of 'You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.'

30. There are 113,760 frames of film in the original '101 Dalmatians.'

31. The final tally of Dalmatian spots in all those frames of film: 6,469,952.
I hope you enjoyed these trivia tidbits!  Join us on the first of July, when we re-cap our newest trivia tidbits covering Beauty and the Beast!!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I never even knew that certain events in 101 Dalmatians were based on actual events Dodie had with her dog, amazing!