101 Dalmatians is a 1961 family film produced by Walt Disney Pictures.
The film features Rod Taylor as the voice of Pongo, the first of the Dalmatian and Betty Lou Gerson as the voice of the villainous Cruella de Vil. The plot centers on the fate of the kidnapped puppies of Pongo and Perdita that Cruella plans on killing along with many other puppies for their fur.
Pongo is a dalmatian that lives in a London bachelor flat with his owner Roger Radcliffe, a songwriter. Bored with bachelor life, Pongo decides to find a wife for Roger and a mate for himself. While watching various female dog-human pairs out the window, he spots the perfect couple, a woman named Anita and her female dalmatian, Perdita. He quickly gets Roger out of the house and drags him through the park to arrange a meeting. Pongo accidentally causes both Roger and Anita to fall into a pond, but it works out well as the couple falls in love. Both the human couple and the dog couple marry.
Later, Perdita gives birth to 15 puppies. One almost dies, but Roger is able to revive it by rubbing it in a towel (because of which, they would name the pup, "Lucky"). That same night, they are visited by Cruella De Vil, a wealthy former schoolmate of Anita's. She offers to buy the entire litter of puppies for a large sum, but Roger says they are not selling any of the puppies. Weeks later, she hires Jasper and Horace Badun to steal all of the puppies. When Scotland Yard is unable to prove she stole them or find the puppies, Pongo and Perdita use the "Twilight Bark", normally a canine gossip line, to ask for help from the other dogs across England, starting with a Great Dane named Danny and his terrier friend.
Colonel, an old sheepdog, along with his compatriots Captain, a gray horse, and Sergeant Tibbs, a tabby cat, find the puppies in a place called Hell Hall (aka The De Vil Place), along with other Dalmatian puppies that Cruella had purchased from various dog stores. Tibbs learns the puppies are going to be made into dog-skin fur coats and the Colonel quickly sends word back to London. Upon receiving the message, Pongo and Perdita immediately leave London for a long journey to retrieve their puppies. Meanwhile, Tibbs overhears Cruella ordering the Baduns to kill and render the puppies that night out of fear the police will soon find them. In response, Tibbs attempts to rescue the puppies himself while the Baduns are watching the television, but they finish their show and come for them before Tibbs can get the puppies out of the house. Pongo and Perdita burst through a window just as the Baduns have cornered them and are about to kill them. While Pongo and Perdita, Colonel and Tibbs guide the puppies from the house.
After a happy reunion with their own puppies, the Pongos realize there are 84 other puppies with them. shocked at Cruella's plans, they decide to adopt all of the puppies, certain that Roger and Anita would never reject them. The dogs begin making their way back to London, aided by other animals along the way, with Cruella and the Baduns giving chase. In one town, they cover themselves with soot so they appear to be Labrador retrievers, then pile inside a moving van going back to London. As the van is leaving, melting icicles and falling snow clears off the soot and Cruella sees them. In a maniacal rage, she follows the van in her car and rams it, but the Baduns, trying to cut off the van from above, end up colliding with her. Both vehicles crash into a deep ravine. Cruella yells at the Baduns in frustration and cries over the loss of her dream coat as the van drives away.
Back in London, Roger and Anita are attempting to celebrate Christmas and Roger's first big hit, his song about Cruella, but they miss their canine friends. Suddenly barking is heard outside and after their nanny opens the door, the house is filled with dogs. After wiping away more of the soot, the couple is delighted to realize their companions have returned home with many more dalmatian puppies. They decide to use the money from the song to buy a large house in the country so they can keep all 101 Dalmatians and have a dalmatian plantation.
The film is a landmark in animation history for many reasons. It is the first Disney animated film to be set in a contemporary setting since Dumbo . It is also the first Disney film created by a single story man (Bill Peet).
The production of the film also signaled a change in the graphic style of Disney's animation. Ub Iwerks, in charge of special processes at the studio, had been experimenting with Xerox photography to aid in animation. By 1959 he had modified a Xerox camera to transfer drawings by animators directly to cels, eliminating the inking process and preserving the spontaneity of the penciled elements.
The introduction of xerography eased graphic reproduction requirements, but at the price of being unable to deviate from a scratchy outline style because of the new (and time and money saving) technology's limitations. Since the line would not have fit the "round" Disney drawing style used until then (with the exception of Sleeping Beauty), a more graphic, angular style was chosen for this and subsequent films. Rotoscoping, a technique formerly used for tracing live action human characters into animated drawings, became less important.
Another reason for its look was that the animators were used to producing sketchy drawings, as the clean-up was done in the process of transferring the drawings to the cels. With the hand inkers gone, the animation remained as the animators drew it. Later it became common to do clean-up on paper before the animation was copied, and with time and experience, the process improved.
According to Chuck Jones, Disney was able to bring the movie in for about half of what it would have cost if they'd had to animate all the dogs and spots. The studio cut its animation department after the failure of the very expensive Sleeping Beauty, resulting in a reduction of staff from over 500 to less than 100. Walt Disney, who for some years had spent his attention more towards television and his Disneyland amusement park and less on his animated features, disliked this development. The "sketchy" graphic style would remain the norm at Disney for years until the technology improved prior to the release of The Rescuers. In later animated features the Xeroxed lines could be printed in different colors.
Unlike many Walt Disney animated features, One Hundred and One Dalmatians features only three songs, with just one, "Cruella De Vil", playing a big part in the film. The other two songs are "Kanine Krunchies Jingle" (sung by Lucille Bliss, who voiced Anastasia in Disney's 1950 film Cinderella), and "Dalmatian Plantation" in which only two lines are sung by Roger at the film's closure. Songwriter Mel Leven had, in fact, written several additional songs for the film including "Don't Buy a Parrot from a Sailor", a cockney chant, meant to be sung by the Badduns at the De Vil Mansion, and "March of the One Hundred and One", which the dogs were meant to sing after escaping Cruella by van.
To achieve the spotted Dalmatians, the animators used to think of the spot pattern as a constellation. Once they had one "anchor spot", the next was placed in relation to that one spot, and so on and so on until the full pattern was achieved. All total, 101 Dalmatians featured 6,469,952 spots, with Pongo sporting 72 spots, Perdita 68, and each puppy having 32.
As done with other Disney films, Walt Disney hired an actress to perform live-action scenes as a reference for the animation process. Actress Helene Stanley performed the live-action reference for the character of Anita. She did the same kind of work for the characters of Cinderella and Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty.
According to Christopher Finch, author of The Art of Walt Disney:
Disney insisted that all scenes involving human characters should be shot first in live-action to determine that they would work before the expensive business of animation was permitted to start. The animators did not like this way of working, feeling it detracted from their ability to create character. [...] [The animators] understood the necessity for this approach and in retrospect acknowledged that Disney had handled things with considerable subtlety.
- Rod Taylor - Pongo
- Cate Bauer - Perdita
- Betty Lou Gerson - Cruella De Vil / Miss Birdwell
- Ben Wright - Roger Radcliffe
- Lisa Davis - Anita Radcliffe
- Martha Wentworth - Nanny
- Frederick Worlock - Horace Badun; Inspector Craven
- J. Pat O'Malley - Jasper Badun; Colonel
- Thurl Ravenscroft - Captain
- David Frankham - Sgt. Tibbs
- Barbara Baird - Rolly
- Mickey Maga - Patch
- Sandra Abbott - Penny
- Mimi Gibson - Lucky
- Bill Lee - Roger (singing)
- George Pelling - Danny
- Junius Matthews - Scottie (uncredited)
- Tudor Owen - Towser
One Hundred and One Dalmatians was first released to theaters on January 25, 1961. After its initial theatrical run, it was re-released to theaters four more times: January 1969, June 1979, December 1985, and July 1991.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians was released on VHS on April 10, 1992 as part of the Walt Disney Classics video series. It was re-released on March 9, 1999 as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection video series. On December 19, 1999, it received its first DVD release as part of Disney's Limited Issue series. A 2-disc Platinum Edition DVD was released on March 4, 2008. It was released in Diamond Edition on February 10, 2015.
101 Dalmatians was the tenth highest grossing film of 1961, accruing $6,400,000 in distributors' domestic (U.S. and Canada) rentals during its first year of release. Unfortunately, 5 months later, one of Disney's rivals, Colombia Pictures, released another British American film called 'The Guns of Navarone.' It outgrossed 101 Dalmatians to become the highest grossing movie of Disney and in 1961 for only $28,900,000. The film was re-issued to theaters in 1969, 1979, 1985, and 1991. The 1991 reissue was the twentieth highest earning film of the year for domestic earnings. It has earned $215,880,014 in worldwide box office earnings during its lengthy history, and currently holds a 97% "fresh" rating from critics and users on Rotten Tomatoes.
Live Action film
- Main article: 101 Dalmatians (1996)
In the years since the original release of the movie, Disney has taken the property in various directions. The earliest of these endeavors was the live-action remake, 101 Dalmatians. Starring Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil, none of the animals talked in this 1997 edition. was released straight-to-VHS/DVD on December 22, 2002.
- Thomas, Bob: "Chapter 7: The Postwar Films", page 106. Disney's Art of Animation: From Mickey Mouse to Hercules, 1997
- Finch, Christopher: "Chapter 8: Interruptions and Innovations", pages 245-246. The Art of Walt Disney, 2004
- An Interview with Chuck Jones
- Encyclopaedia of Disney Animation
- 101 Dalmatians Original Animation Forensically Examined
- Cinderella Character History. Disney Archives.
- Walt's Masterworks: Cinderella. Disney Archives.
- 1991 Domestic Grosses #1–50. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
- Disney's 101 Dalmatians Platinum Edition DVD Website
- One Hundred and One Dalmatians at the Internet Movie Database