The Reluctant Dragon

  • 1941
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Animated, Children's

Disney's first excursion into live-action cinema, though the action is extremely limited and consists mainly of Benchley walking through the studios, giving the audience a chance to see what is responsible for fantastic cartoons like PINOCCHIO and FANTASIA. But there is really very little indication of what actually is taking place behind the scenes in...read more

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Disney's first excursion into live-action cinema, though the action is extremely limited and consists mainly of Benchley walking through the studios, giving the audience a chance to see what is responsible for fantastic cartoons like PINOCCHIO and FANTASIA. But there is really very

little indication of what actually is taking place behind the scenes in such masterpieces, and much of the information is not quite correct. The aim is more for the juvenile population which was sure to get quite a kick from seeing the voices behind such characters as Donald Duck and Clara Cluck.

The premise that keeps the whole thing together is the attempt of Benchley to sell the idea of the fairy tale "The Reluctant Dragon" to Disney. He arrives at the studio and a guide attempts to take him directly to the boss. Only Benchley's reluctance to really face Disney with the idea--it was his

wife's pushing that brought him there--forces him to wander off through the various parts of the studio. In one sequence he walks into the color department and the picture changes from black and white to color. In another he witnesses the storyboarding of the BABY WEEMS cartoon, a really great

little piece about a baby born a genius and thus lost to its loving parents. Eventually the guide grabs hold of Benchley again, delivering him directly to the big cheese in the projection room. Disney wants to show Benchley the new cartoon he has just made, entitled, of course, THE RELUCTANT

DRAGON. This short was later released by itself, and is now known as one of the studio's biggest successes, as it concerns a friendly dragon who doesn't like having to live up to the image of a ferocious beast. Portions of the live action were put together later in a short entitled BEHIND THE

SCENES OF WALT DISNEY STUDIO. Oddly enough, this picture tries hard to stress how the Disney studio works in an atmosphere of togetherness, when just weeks before its release hundreds of the studio's employees went on strike. It's always a pleasure to see Benchley up to his fumbling antics, but

his performance here is much more tame than in many of his how-to shorts. Disney had used the storyboard technique--single-frame drawings depicting scenes and sequences of a production--for his animated films for years. This was the first time the storyboarding technique had been used for a

live-action film by the studio; the method was so successful that it was incorporated in all the Disney live-action films to come. The picture has one song, "The Reluctant Dragon" (T. Hee, Charles Wolcott, Ed Penner).

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Disney's first excursion into live-action cinema, though the action is extremely limited and consists mainly of Benchley walking through the studios, giving the audience a chance to see what is responsible for fantastic cartoons like PINOCCHIO and FANTASIA… (more)

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