What It’s Like to be a Disney Historian

Posted on July 8, 2019 at 3:13 pm

At the splendid Library of Congress tribute on the 70th anniversary of Disney’s Cinderella, I got to speak to Mary Walsh, the Managing Director of Disney’s animation library for thecredits.org.

She told me that “Cinderella” was Disney’s first animated feature after WWII, where it was mostly working to support the war effort. So this return to classic fairy tales was very meaningful for them. An excerpt from the interview:

Cinderella’s blue gown has to be one of Disney’s most iconic dresses.

Yes, like the ultimate Christian Dior design from the 1950s. It’s really interesting for me because if you think about the time in which this story takes place in the 19th century, 1800 – 1840-ish, but yet it was made in the late 1940s and released in 1950, so the design aesthetic that they chose is influenced by that particular time period in France but also the reflections of the artist working in the late ’40s to early ’50s. So her hair, the style of her gown, reflect both eras.

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The Evolution of One of the Movies’ Most Iconic Openings: James Bond

Posted on July 7, 2019 at 2:35 pm

Copyright United Artists 1995

On Rogerebert.com, Charlie Brigden writes about the music behind one of the most iconic openings in movie history: James Bond’s dum-de-dum-dum gun barrel shots (in both senses of the word).

Barry’s cues were wholly representative of the music he was writing for the series at the time: dangerous and seductive, the pure essence of cool. Connery’s Bond was the same, a man who you would happily let romance you knowing you were unlikely to survive even the most fleeting of relationships, and Barry’s gun barrels personified that to a tee. By the time “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” came around in 1969, Bob Moog’s Moog synthesizer had hit the music world with a bang, and as such Barry chose to utilize it to introduce George Lazenby. While the cue begins in the traditional way, the vamp is introduced over a credit for Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, meaning that when Bond appears he’s scored by the main riff on Moog, which gives the cue a different mood that certainly represented Barry’s groundbreaking score, considered by many to be the franchise’s best.

And some background on the famous theme, with the guitar riff by Monty Norman.

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July Character Actor Blogathon: “Always a Bridesmaid”

Posted on June 30, 2019 at 5:38 pm

Copyright 2019 Hollywood Genes

This is a great idea for a blogathon! A month-long tribute to the often-neglected character actors, orchestrated by Zoe Krainik of Hollywood Genes. She writes:

While, of course, we love the main characters of our favorite films, often truly great characters and performances end up unnoticed, unremembered, or under appreciated simply because the characters were supporting, relegated to the background, or deemed less than perfect per society’s norms of the time.

With this concurrent Twitter challenge and blogathon, we hope to celebrate the bridesmaids instead of the brides, small parts with big heart, and the characters who are way too familiar with the background and the friend zone.

Follow along on Twitter or Instagram! #BridesmaidChallenge2019

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Movie Mom on “Some Like it Hot” — Crooked Table Podcast

Posted on June 26, 2019 at 8:00 am

Copyright United Artists 1959

I had a lot of fun on the Crooked Table podcast talking about one of the greatest movies of all time, Some Like it Hot.

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Celebrating Cinderella — A Magical Night at the Library of Congress

Posted on June 21, 2019 at 8:45 am

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 20: Cinderella attends Disney’s “Cinderella” Library f Congress National Film Registry Ball at The Library of Congress on June 20, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for Disney)

Last night was truly magical, a celebration of one of Disney’s classic animated films, “Cinderella,” as it was added to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. Cinderella was there in person, of course, introduced by a courtier and welcomed by Dr. Carla Hayden, 14th Librarian of Congress, who presented the film’s official certificate that inducted CINDERELLA into the National Film Registry to Mary Walsh, Managing Director of the Animation Research Library at Walt Disney Animation Studios.

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 20: (L-R) Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden, Cinderella, and Mary Walsh, Managing Director of the Disney Animation Research Library, attend Disney’s “Cinderella” Library of Congress National Film Registry Ball at The Library of Congress on June 20, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images for Disney)

Attendees included members of Congress, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, and other notable D.C. area tastemakers and influencers. (That means me!) It was a thrill to see the film on a full-size screen, with an audience that included so many children and so many girls and women in ballgowns and tiaras. The Library of Congress had a spectacular array of their Cinderella-related treasures, from the original songs with hand-lettered lyrics that were submitted for copyright registration, including some that never made it into the film, to a fascinating collection of different versions of the Cinderella story going back literally thousands of years. They also had a set of the original lobby cards with pictures from the film and a flier with all of the products and tie-ins from the movie’s original release, with costumes, shoes, and even cleaning products. There were a number of photo opportunities and my favorite was a real-life Prince Charming in a booth filled with glass slippers, who was there to help the ladies and girls see if their feet would fit.

The new Signature series DVD/Blu-Ray release features a brand-new commentary track showing how Walt Disney and the filmmakers made comments and revisions as the film was being created. Stay tuned for my interview with Ms. Walsh about the film’s history, coming soon on thecredits.org.

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