Reviewed in the United States on March 4, 2015
101 DALMATIANS [1961/2015] [Diamond Edition] [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD] 101 Times The Fun For The Whole Family! New All-Cartoon Feature! One Great Big Onederful Motion Picture!
Pick your favourite spot to watch anytime and anywhere and get ready for a fun-filled adventure with ‘101 DALMATIANS’ for the first time ever on Blu-ray and Digital HD!
Pongo, Perdita and their super-adorable puppies are in for thrills, hilarious spills and an epic action-packed adventure when they face off with Cruella De Vil, Disney's most fabulously outrageous villainess. Unleash all the excitement and suspense of Disney's ‘101 DALMATIANS’ which is a beloved classic you'll want to share with your family again and again! Narrated by Rod Taylor.
FILM FACT: 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," which is sung by Lucille Bliss, who voiced Anastasia Tremaine in Disney's 1950 film ‘Cinderella.’ "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 Baduns at the De Vil Mansion, and "March of the One Hundred and One," which the dogs were meant to sing after escaping Cruella De Vil’s van.
Voice Cast: Rod Taylor, J. Pat O'Malley, Betty Lou Gerson, Martha Wentworth, Ben Wright, Cate Bauer, David Frankham, Frederick Worlock, Lisa Davis, Tom Conway, Tudor Owen, George Pelling, Ramsay Hill, Sylvia Marriott, Queenie Leonard, Marjorie Bennett, Mickey Maga, Barbara Beaird, Mimi Gibson, Sandra Abbott, Thurl Ravenscroft, Bill Lee, Max Smith, Bob Stevens, Paul Wexler, Barbara Luddy, Lisa Daniels, Don Barclay, Basil Ruysdael, Dal McKennon, Jeanne Bruns, Lucille Bliss (uncredited), Paul Frees (uncredited), Clarence Nash (uncredited) and Rickie Sorensen (uncredited)
Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske and Wolfgang Reitherman
Producer: Walt Disney
Screenplay: Bill Peet and Dodie Smith (novel "The One Hundred and One Dalmatians")
Composer: George Bruns and Mel Leven
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English: 7.1 DTS-HD master Audio, English: Original Theatrical Mix, French: 5.1 DTS-HD High Resolution and Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French and Spanish
Running Time: 79 minutes
Region: Blu-ray: All Regions and DVD: NTSC
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Walt Disney Studios
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Arriving on Blu-ray is Walt Disney’s latest Diamond Edition, the 1961 classic ‘101 Dalmatians.’ This animation film has raked in $Millions of Dollars over the years, and spawned a sequel and live-action remakes, and helped make Dalmatians one of the most highly sought-after of dog animation film of all time, apart from ‘Lady and The Tramp’ of course and regardless of its long-term influence, ‘101 Dalmatians’ remains an endearing beautiful classic and this new Blu-ray edition offers a terrific way to revisit one of Walt Disney’s beautiful interpretation of the classic novel by Dodie Smith.
Based on the Dodie Smith’s 1956 novel “The One Hundred and One Dalmatians” as was the film during its initial release. ‘101 Dalmatians’ pretty much saved the animation department of Walt Disney Studios following losses incurred following the expensive ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ initially a commercial disappointment upon its release two years earlier. As explained in some of the Blu-ray bonus features, the use of Xerox photography was basically a Godsend in terms of reducing the budget. There were also other cost-saving animation breakthroughs made during production, particularly affecting the sequence in which villainess Cruella De Vil’s car is stuck in the snow, utilising live-action photography as their basis. All of this is delved into within the Diamond Edition supplements. Anyone who thought Dalmatians was just another Walt Disney animated classic will come away from this edition with a deeper sense of respect for the studio’s innovations and determination.
The concise storytelling, all fitting tidily within a brisk 79 minutes, continues to makes Dalmatians one of the easiest Disney classics to revisit again and again. Maybe it has something to do with its “real world,” then-contemporary setting, which is a nice change of pace from the fairy tale lands and more elaborately fantasy-based and/or “period piece” settings of previous Walt Disney animated films. In London, bachelor Roger (voiced by Ben Wright) is a songwriter looking for a big hit. His beloved Dalmatian Pongo (voiced by Rod Taylor) wants to see his master paired with a suitable female companion. He plays matchmaker and soon Roger has a mate in Anita [Lisa Davis], who just so happens to have a Dalmatian of her own, Perdita [Cate Bauer]. Soon a litter of 15 Dalmatian pups is birthed. Enter one of Walt Disney’s most enduring villains, the fearsome Cruella De Vil (Betty Lou Gerson, previously the uncredited narrator of Walt Disney’s ‘Cinderella’), who wants to skin scores of Dalmatians for a fur coat.
While the story moves steadily toward a stark, melodramatic "chase" climax, it remains enclosed in a typical Disney frame of warm family love, human and canine. And as adapted by Bill Peet and directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, Hamilton. S. Luske and Slyde Geronimi, it offers likable, human-voiced sprinters.
One of the most appealing things of all is the opening, the meeting of a gentle young London couple and the honeymoon aura of their "poor but happy" love nest, with Pongo, the Dalmatian hero, his mate and their cute, polka-dotted twitchers and television fans. A sweet-scented, Valentine flavour pervades these early scenes, blending nicely with the muted, pastel backgrounds of Ken Anderson. All is serene. Just the same, Pongo, a testy mutt after our own heart, watches over the household of his "pets" (the couple), he assures us.
Enter, like a blow-torch, Cruella De Vil, with two cockney aides ready to spirit Pongo's fifteen puppies away to the moors and her Dalmatian reservoir of eighty-six puppies. Imagine a sadistic Auntie Mame, drawn by Charles Addams and with a Tallulah Bankhead bass. This is what hounds the poor dogs, all 101 of them, for the rest of the film, until the wild, hair-raising climax, when the lady sails off a cliff. Anyway, the kids who survived "Psycho" should survive Cruella De Vil.
The most original sequence, though, is pure, unstartling Disney, when Pongo and his mate howl out an SOS code for news of their stolen pups, echoed from London to the moors and a helpful, "Colonel Blimp" sheepdog, by a four-footed "underground." Even so, the animal round-up here is rather reminiscent and a far cry from the salty denizens of the ‘Lady and the Tramp’ animation film. Songs are slightly scarce compared to other Walt Disney animation films and a few more songs would have made the animation film even more magical, but despite this, it is still a magical animation extravaganza.
This was an era in which appropriate voice talent was cast for animated films, vastly different from today’s all-star voice cast model. While some of the voice actors were well known for their physical acting roles, particularly Rod Taylor in this case, the focus seemed to be more specifically on matching the right voice to the right part and regardless of “marquee value.” Rather than “spot the celebrity” voice, audiences could simply appreciate the character that these generally unsung talents brought to their roles. 101 Dalmatians is a great example of the natural, unforced brilliance of the voice acting in Disney’s vintage animated films. With “Cruella De Vil” being the only real featured song in the whole film (and what an unforgettable one it is), Dalmatians soars on the strengths of more subtle charms.
Some straight Walt Disney hilarity would have been even better, for all the side-line touches. Even with a lady Lucifer like “Cruella De Vil” who is hell-bent for their hides, those Dalmatians are a friendly lot and definitely well worth knowing. It was originally released in 1961 and yet still looks as sharp and clean today, matching the same outstanding calibre of Disney’s newer animated efforts. “101 Dalmatians” is a must-see film now on the Diamond Edition Blu-ray disc, that was visually ahead of its time, holding up surprisingly well even in comparison to more contemporary traditionally animated films. With such a timeless story and managing to still squeeze in two songs amidst the action, and also with family-friendly humour, plus a terrific singular character designs, and its overall presentation is totally brilliant. ‘101 Dalmatians’ is Disney at its best. The storyline serves as a solid foundation for the movie to build from. The puppies with their different personalities are adorable. You come to care about them and their safety, and the farm animals introduced during the rescue are delightful supporting characters. Cruella is also the perfect villain that you love to hate. All of these elements together make for an amusing and entertaining film.
Blu-ray Video Quality – ‘101 Dalmations’ looks totally grand, as well as totally awesome on this new Blu-ray and especially with a stunning new 1080p encoded transfer and with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, that brings to mind other Diamond Edition releases. In other words, it doesn’t sport the natural grain inherent in a film of its era, opting for a more “modernised” grain-free appearance. But whatever DNR [Digital Noise reduction] was applied, to my eyes it didn’t result in any serious compromise to fine detail. The colours are vibrant and the dreary look of London creates a great backdrop for the story. The detail on the puppies is amazing and the impressionistic backgrounds help give the characters depth.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround mix, is also typical of the other recent Diamond Editions, that doesn’t overdo things in terms of expanding what was original a mono audio presentation. The main thing that sounds great is the musical score, which has been stretched out across the surround spectrum quite nicely. The original mono mix is present as a Dolby Digital track. Music and effects fill the channels. Vehicles can be heard panning across the soundscape and barking echoes throughout.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: The Further Adventures of Thunderbolt  [1080p] [1.22:1] [1:46] Here we get to see the follow up and final episode of the animated short, that we first encountered in ‘101 Dalmatians’ in which the black-and-white television star Thunderbolt survives a fall down a waterfall and captures the horse thief. I know children will love this, as did the Dalmatians in the animated film.
Special Feature Documentary: Lucky Dogs  [1080p] [1.77:1] [9:08] Here we get to be introduced to the very talented Disney animation artists who produced ‘101 Dalmatians’ and contributing to this fascinating documentary are Rolly Crump [Animation/Imagineering]; Carmen Sanderson [Ink and Paint], Burney Mattison [Animation]; Floyd Norman [Animation]; Don Iwerks [Film Production] and Lisa Davis [Voice of Anita]. We are also informed that ‘101 Dalmatians’ was outline the under-staffed production and its hurdles, the time-saving incorporation of Xerox copying, Walt Disney's initial distaste for such shortcuts, and other topics. But most of all we get to see a cute Dalmatian dog wandering all about the Walt Disney Animation building.
Special Feature: Dalmatians 101  [1080p] [1.77:1] [5:19] This is hosted by Young Cameron Boyce (who plays Cruella De Vil's son in Disney's ‘Descendants’). Here we get see the obnoxious precocious Cameron Boyce telling us about the “411 on 101,” meaning 5 reasons why ‘One Hundred and One Dalmatians’ is the best Dog-gone Disney Dog Movie of All Time. There are 5 categories and they go in reverse order as such: No.5: It’s Totally Modern; No.4: Talkin’ ‘Bout Tech; No.3: Puppies!!!; No.2: Cool Guest Stars and No.1: Cruella De Vil. Get the sick bag ready.
Special Feature: Walt Disney Presents: The Best Doggoned Dog in the World  [1080p] [1.33:1] [51:05] This is the tenth episode of “The Wonderful World of Disney's” fourth season. This was one of the regular Walt Disney Television programme we use to see each week and this one is entitled “Adventure World” where we get to see a little adventure about two brave sheep dogs and especially the one that saves 5 sheep, but who nearly drowned, but eventually get herded back to the sheep dog owner. We also get to see Walt Disney talk about the historic facts of man’s best friend from all over the world. Plus Walt Disney introduces us to several clips from the up and coming animation film ‘101 Dalmatians’ and because it was broadcast in 1961, it was of course the animation film was shown in black-and-white.
Classic Bonus Feature:
Special Feature: Redefining the Line: The Making of 101 Dalmatians   [1.33:1] [33:54] This bonus feature is split up into 7 sections, which consist of Puppy Dog Tales [5:33]; Howling at the Moon [3:36]; New Tricks [5:16]; Animation 101 [7:51]; Drawing All Cars [4:12]; Seeing Spots [5:45] and A Dog's Eye View [1:40].
Special Feature: Cruella De Vil: Drawn to Be Bad [1080p] [1.33:1] [7:08] Here we get to meet again the famous Walt Disney Animation Artists talking about the infamous villain “Cruella de Vil,” and contributing in this feature documentary are Andreas Deja; Walt Peregoy; Floyd Norman; Jerry Beck; Will Finn; Pete Docter; Brad Bird; Burny Mattison; Harley Jessup; Paula Sigman; Don Hahn; Bill Sinbley; Marc Davis ; Alice Davis and Ron Clements.
Special Feature: “Sincerely Yours, Walt Disney” [1080p] [1.33:1] [12:47] In the years preceding the release of ‘One Hundred and One Dalmatians’ Walt Disney began a personal correspondence with the book’s author, Dodie Smith. Their letters have been uncovered by the studio archives and presented her is a dramatic re-creation. Nothing earth shattering comes from the cordial correspondence between Disney and Smith, but it is fun to see their long-distance interactions and how they handled some minor quibbles. Sadly we get no information on which actors are in this piece.
Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots [1961 Original Release] Teaser Trailer: Adapted for CinemaScope [1080p] [1.33:1] [0:41]; Theatrical Trailer [1080p] [1.33:1] [1:52] and TV Spots [1080p] [1.33:1] [0:31].
Trailers and TV Spots [1969 Reissue] Theatrical Trailer [1080p] [1.33:1] [1:07]; TV Spot #1 [1080p] [1.33:1] [0:31] and TV Spot #2 [1080p] [1.33:1] [0:31].
Combined TV Spots with Swiss Family Robinson Theatrical Trailer [1080p] [1.33:1] [0:31].
Trailers and TV Spots [1979 Reissue] Theatrical Trailer [1080p] [1.33:1] [1:34]; TV Spot #1 [1080p] [1.33:1] [0:31]; TV Spot #2 1080p] [1.33:1] [0:31] and French Canadian TV Spot [1080p] [1.33:1] [0:30] [with English Yellow Subtitles].
Trailers and TV Spots [1985 Reissue] Theatrical trailer [1080p] [1.33:1] [1:22].
Promotional Radio Spots [1961 Original Release] 60 Second; 30 Second and 10 Second.
Music and More Bonus Content:
Special Feature: “Cruella De Vil” Music Video performed by [ghastly obnoxious] Selena Gomez [1080p] [4:3] [3:24].
Special Feature: “March Of The One Hundred And One” [Deleted Song Sequence] [1080p] [1.33:1] [3:24].
Special Feature: Abandoned Songs [Introduced by Russell Schroeder] “Cheerio, Goodbye, Toodle-oo, Hip Hip!” [1080p] [1.33:1] [2:31] and “Don’t Buy A Parrot From A Sailor” [1080p] [1.33:1] [2:38].
Special Feature: Demo Recordings and Alternate Versions: “Dalmatian Plantation” [Extended Alternate Version] [1080p] [1.33:1] [2:44] and [Temp version] [1080p] [1.33:1] [1:02].
Special Feature: “Cruella De Vil” [Demo Recordings] Spooky Version [1080p] [1.77:1] [3:46] and Blues Ballad Version [1080p] [1.77:1] [2:14].
Special Feature: “Cruella De Vil” [Roger Version] Roger Composing #1 By Ben Wright [1080p] [1.33:1] [3:24] and Roger Composing #2 By Billy Lee [1080p] [1.77:1] [4:29].
Special Feature: “Cruella De Vil” [Roger Version] Honky Tonk Piano [1080p] [1.77:1] [1:22].
Special Feature: “Cruella De Vil” [Radio Hit Alternate Versions] Alternate #1 [1080p] [1.77:1] [1:12]; Alternate #2 [1080p] [1.77:1] [2:23] and Alternate #3 [1080p] [1.77:1] [1:08].
Special Feature: “Kanine Krunchies” British; Very Young; Young; Little Boy; Flubbed Take; False Start; Older English [incomplete]; Younger British and Eton Boy [1080p] [1.77:1] [5:14].
Sneak Previews: Disney Movies Anywhere Advert Promotion [1080p] [1.77:1] [0:40]; Aladdin [Diamond Edition] [1080p] [1.77:1] [1:18]; Cinderella [2015 Film Promotion] [1080p] [1.77:1] [0:16]; Disney DVD Magic Advert Promotion [1080p] [1.77:1] [0:19]; Disney Parks.com Advert Promotion [1080p] [1.77:1] [0:30]; Dog With A Blog Disney TV Advert [1080p] [1.77:1] [0:31]; LucasFilm Star Wars ‘The Clone Wars’ [Blu-ray + DVD] [1080p] [2.55:1] [2:42]; Big Hero 6 [Blu-ray + Digital HD] [1080p] [2.55:1] [1:36] and Tinker Bell and the legend of The Neverbeast [Blu-ray + Digital HD] [1080p] [1.77:1] [1:31].
Finally, ‘101 Dalmatians’ is Walt Disney at its best. The storyline serves as a solid foundation for the animation film to build from. The puppies with their different personalities are adorable. You come to care about them and their safety, and the farm animals introduced during the rescue are delightful supporting characters. Cruella De Vil is also the most perfect villain that you will love to hate. All in all these elements together make for a totally amusing and entertaining film. ‘101 Dalmatians’ remains a winner. The animation film itself is really good and one of the best classic Disney offerings, and it will sure to entertain a wide audience. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals as well as mostly good picture and bonus materials. I enjoyed this brilliant classic animation film and the Blu-ray translates so brilliant and glorious. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom