Friday, January 16, 2009

The Mega Collector's Reluctant Dragon

Another Woolie Reitherman original, this from the 1941 Disney feature The Reluctant Dragon.

The live-action/animated feature starred Robert Benchley as himself, touring the Disney studio (and running into Norm Ferguson and Ward Kimball among others. TRD is a strange amalgamation of actors and Disney staffers. Actor Alan Ladd appears as a Disney story artist, while animator Reitherman appears as ... an animator in a drawing class.)

The feature includes three cartoon shorts: "How To Ride A Horse" starring Goofy in the first "How To" cartoon, "Baby Weems", and the title short.

The Reluctant Dragon was released during the 1941 Disney strike and was not a barn burner at the boxoffice. Guild members dressed up in tuxes and evening gowns and rented fancy cars to arrive at the premiere, then got out of the cars and marched with their picket signs. Strike leader and future Local 839 president Moe Gollub's date was inker Nancy Bedell, who married designer Reg Massie a year later and parented our illustrious Recording Secretary Jeff Massie.

Below, the complete cartoon of The Reluctant Dragon (just the cartoon, not the entire feature).

29 comments:

Larry Levine said...

Great drawing!!!

This has always been among my favorite Disney features.

Anonymous said...

I believe this must have been the first Disney animated film to feature a gay character. This was LONG before Scar in the Lion King.

Anonymous said...

Disney feature characters are built on personality characteristics, not sexuality. Certainly, Scar, like Jafar, Captain Hook and Shere Khan, is like a prototypical effete Hollywood movie villain, but gay? Please be specific. What "gay" things did he say or do? I thing we are bending over backwards, (double meaning unintentional), for a little validation.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of when I rented a Wizard of Oz DVD, and on the commentary disc some idiot claimed the Cowardly Lion was gay. Hello? Kid movie? A little discretion? Or class? Please?

Anonymous said...

The Cowardly Lion? PLEASE! The Tin Man was the Gay one!

Seriously though, Anon at 11:08, why is calling a character Gay so hard for you to deal with and find it so negative?

Anonymous said...

A cheap attempt to put me on the defensive. In older live action movies it was usually obvious when a character was intended to be read as gay. In a children's movie, particularly a Disney movie, any deliberate reference to sexual orientation would be highly unlikely to say the least. Same challenge: Let's have some specifics.

Anonymous said...

Well, Anon at 12:39, I'm not at all intimidated by the Politically Correct Thought Police, so I'll gladly answer you: because gays are sexual deviants, and children shouldn't be exposed to them until they are old enough to understand sexuality, and can then be taught about it *by their parents* rather than the agenda-driven media. I'll add to my statement by saying that the only time I've ever wished I lived in California was when Prop 8 was on the ballot; as a concerned parent and healthy-minded agnostic, I would gladly have voted for it. Thank you and good night!

Anonymous said...

You sound like a wingnut theocrat who destroys their children's mind with narrowminded "christian" worldview. What a shame your child will grow up to be an idiot like you.

Steven E. Gordon said...

I wouldn't call himn idiot just a homophobic bigot who probably isn't in the animation business.

Jon said...

Anyone who's actually seen The Reluctant Dragon would have a very hard time concluding that the character isn't meant to be gay. He is very effeminate in a highly stereotypical, limp-wristed, Truman Capote sort of way, interested in feminine things, and abhors masculine activities in an "over the top" way.

Certainly in the era that the film was created, this was all meant as a knowing wink. It certainly didn't cause any child to become gay. Their mothers did that ;)

Pete Emslie said...

I agree with what Jon said above. There's also no doubt in my mind that the Reluctant Dragon was certainly a gay caricature, but so what? The cartoonists of the time had no qualms about portraying all manner of "character types", and always did so with good humour. The Chuck Jones creations, Mac 'n' Tosh, were meant to be a swipe at Disney's own Chip 'n' Dale, only pushing the effeminate qualities to the maximum, and were popularly nicknamed by the animation staff as "the gay gophers". Mel Brooks took a similar over-the-top approach in "The Producers", yet his skewering of gays, ex-nazis, Swedish nymphos, and even New York Jews, was always deliberately over-the-top and always with a generous good humour. It's a shame that in these silly politically correct times, we can't portray all types of people in such a caricatured way without getting grief from all of the easily offended groups out there. I like the fey Reluctant Dragon and find him a delightful character. Same thing with the marvelous Mr. Toad, who probably quite enjoyed dressing up in that little wig and gown that Cyril brought him for his prison break!

Pete Emslie said...

Oops, I made a mistake in that last post! The Goofy Gophers (AKA "The Gay Gophers") were in fact created by Bob Clampett, not Chuck Jones. Sorry about that folks!

Anonymous said...

**You sound like a wingnut theocrat who destroys their children's mind with narrowminded "christian" worldview. What a shame your child will grow up to be an idiot like you.**

What a typically tolerant statement from an average "open-minded" liberal! How eagerly you and your ilk deal in insults as opposed to a respectful exchange of ideas! As well as demonstrating a poor understanding of basic grammar, you also display a utter lack of grasp of the meaning of the word "agnostic". Look it up in a dictionary. Hint: it's not another word for "christian". Thus endeth your instruction for the day.

Anonymous said...

**Blogger Steven E. Gordon said...

I wouldn't call himn idiot just a homophobic bigot who probably isn't in the animation business.**

Golly. Walt Disney was in the animation business. And I think it's safe to say that he never would have approved of exposing children to sexual deviants either, in cartoons or otherwise. Which is why this argument as to whether the Dragon was gay is even more absurd than it appears on the surface. In fact, it's as stupid as the so-called "controversy" about Bugs Bunny dressing up in women's clothes in some episodes of Looney Tunes. It's not supposed to be indicative of his sexual orientation. It's supposed to be funny, guys. Man, the South Park guys were right. Liberals have no sense of humor!

Anonymous said...

Suggesting that someone who has been dead for over 40 years would not recognize that many in this industry are indeed Gay and contribute enormously to the artform shows that not only are you a homophobic bigot but a moron as well.

Believe it or not there were Gays in Disney's day and whether he understood or recognized them he obviously had no problem caricaturing their behavior.

Why don't you 'come out of the closet' and let us all know who you are so if you are in our industry - (which I highly doubt) we can recognize you as mthe pig you are and avoid working alongside you.

Peanut said...

And I think it's safe to say that he never would have approved of exposing children to sexual deviants either, in cartoons or otherwise.


I'm not going to call you names, as other people have done, or any of that nonsense. But obviously, I do find your comment both hilarious and uninformed. It doesn't matter what you want to believe, you simply have to view the film to see the evidence with your own eyes. Since you clearly have not done this, I suggest you take an hour and rent it before commenting further. The dragon is clearly a gay stereotype.

But as long as we're being pollyannish about Walt, I'd like to think that he'd never subject children to horrible Jewish stereotypes in his cartoons. I'd like to think he'd never allow black stereotypes, or hispanics. Surely he'd never allow depictions of children's alcoholic hallucinations, children smoking cigars, children smoking peyote. Surely not bare-breasted, nubile teen girls??

But then I watched The Three Little Pigs, Dumbo, Pinocchio, Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan, and Fantasia. And lo and behold.

Face it, dude. The dragon is flamier than a marshmallow in a campfire.

Anonymous said...

The dragon is a "flamer" (ha ha ha) only to those predisposed to see it. Happily, children are not so predisposed and so will not be harmed by it. Thus, they win, left-wing indoctrinators lose.

More foaming blather from an obviously tolerant and broadminded individual:

****Suggesting that someone who has been dead for over 40 years would not recognize that many in this industry are indeed Gay and contribute enormously to the artform shows that not only are you a homophobic bigot but a moron as well.

Believe it or not there were Gays in Disney's day and whether he understood or recognized them he obviously had no problem caricaturing their behavior.

Why don't you 'come out of the closet' and let us all know who you are so if you are in our industry - (which I highly doubt) we can recognize you as mthe pig you are and avoid working alongside you.***

And I'm sure you'd be willing to do the same? Ha ha, thought so. Because if you did, you might be exposed to the much the same kind of hate-filled insults you so casually hurl my way.

And yeah, there were gays in Disney's day, and some worked for him. One individual in particular was arrested on a homosexual charge, and how did Walt react? He said "Let's give him another chance. We all make mistakes." Notice that he (A) forgave the guy but (B) did not condone his sexual conduct (which is what he meant by "mistakes".) Walt was, unlike you, truly a broadminded individual. But he also saw things very clearly and honestly for a man of his time. As I strive to do. And it isn't easy, given the truly horrific attempts at suppression and bullying going on by people who actually do have something to be ashamed of. Have a nice day!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but there is no need to be tolerant of bigots like you and if Walt were around today and called Gays deviants, as you do, no one would be tolerant of him either.

Peanut said...

Happily, children are not so predisposed and so will not be harmed by it. Thus, they win, left-wing indoctrinators lose.

Ok, I was wrong--you really ARE an idiot. No one was claiming "indoctrination" except you. We were only claiming that the dragon was portrayed as gay. And now you apparently admit it.

Walt was a product of his time. Like many of those in his era, he also held "interesting" views of various minorities. Views that are only held today, in this different era, by uneducated rednecks.

Today, educated people realize that homosexuality is an innate function of nature. It is observed both in people and throughout the animal kingdom. It's easy to demonize people with terms such as "deviant", which would also describe a hermaphrodite--someone born with both male and female parts. Yet no one would suggest a hermaphrodite "chooses" to be that way. Except maybe for uneducated rednecks.

Anonymous said...

What a weird thread.

This wonderful drawing of a great character inspires such frothing at the mouth ?

Sad .

Thanks to the Mega Collector and TAG bloggers for sharing this and the other drawings from Mega's collection.


This comment is ironic:

"Why don't you 'come out of the closet' and let us all know who you are so if you are in our industry - (which I highly doubt) we can recognize you as the pig you are and avoid working alongside you."

Tsk, tsk ... blacklisting ?

Anonymous said...

Tsk, tsk ... blacklisting ?

Once again:

"...but there is no need to be tolerant of bigots..."

Bigots, Neo-Nazis, White Surpremecists, Antisemites and Homophobes should never be tolerated.


No one is suggesting he be 'blacklisted', as you say, but I prefer to know who is a bigot if I have to work alongside him. Though it's unlikely he'd expose himself to that because he knows it's unacceptable behavior in this era (and industry) though he can can pine away for an era when it was acceptable.
If you want to try and find a way to defend someone that calls a group of people deviants than go ahead. I'd love to see your defense.

rufus said...

"Sexual Deviant" is a judgemental and an off putting term to say the least.

On P8; Who are we to deny other people their happinness? (Or unhappinness, depending on you views of marriage)

We either want an inclusive society, or we don't.

These disscussions always end at the point where the question asked is "Is being gay a choice or is it biological?"

Live, and let live!

rufus

Peanut said...

These disscussions always end at the point where the question asked is "Is being gay a choice or is it biological?"

You are right, Rufus. All of the various side-issues--gay marriage, gays in the military, domestic partner benefits, general acceptance of homosexuality, etc. ultimately all hinge on that fundamental question. And we generally try to dance around it without getting to the root of it.

How a person feels about all those issues is ultimately decided by how they answer that fundamental question. And it also has wide-reaching religious ramifications (How can it be an "abomination" if God created the person that way in the first place? Or...is the bible flat-out wrong?)

My answer is that I don't know if it is genetic, hormonal, or environmental, (or some combination of the three), but I am certain that it is innate. No choice in the matter. The only "choice" is whether to live a life with other people, or to live a lonely, isolated celibate life.

When people start throwing around words like "indoctrinate," that's when I start rolling my eyes.

Anonymous said...

No, I was not saying that the dragon was portrayed as gay. Man, you just can't get past the huge mental block in front of your tiny brain, can you? I said that only those *predisposed* to see him as gay would find him as such. Others - adults AND kids - will think he's just foppish and cowardly. That's because, sans indoctrination, not everyone considers those unflattering behaviors to be primarily gay traits - although, apparently, some here do. For shame! ;) :D

As for the stuff about homosexuality being found in nature, it is almost always an aberration, not the norm. Nature makes mistakes. Name me one specie in which same-gender sex is the primary mating bond. The truth that homosexuality isn't the same as heterosexuality, and therefore the relationships can hardly be called equal to each other, is the reason why not even Californians can stomach the concept of gay marriage. That's why whenever it has come to a vote in any state, gay marriage is banned. Not because so many Americans are ignorant bible-thumping bigots, but because they have a healthy and natural aversion to homosexuality - an aversion *placed there by nature* because it isn't *natural* for people of the same gender to have sexual relations. Homosexuality is tolerated because it's between two adults. But it's still a perversion. That's why gay marriage will never be embraced fully by this country. Elton John had the right idea - he has said he's happy with his civil union with his partner, that he doesn't want to be married, and that when the word marriage enters into the argument only turmoil and backlashes result. The man's as smart and insightful as his music.

Contextualizer said...

While the Reluctant Dragon's behavior is certainly a caricature of gay or "faggy" stereotypes, it is impossible or at least misleading to understand the character out of context. The cartoon is about violence. It's about the hypocrisy of macho, another stereotype. The Dragon was pushed to be the the most extreme opposite of Macho that the animators could conceive of. It was about the "heroic" cliches of contemporary culture, like the answer to the question, "What would be the opposite of John Wayne?" It was certainly NOT about sex or sexual orientation. To see this as some kind of breakthrough, some kind of symbol of gay acceptance in Hollywood is beyond stupid. You might as well say that Steppin Fetchit's character was a symbol of black liberation.

It's a shame that the message of the film was so ill timed. It was clearly the wrong point to be making on the verge of WWII.

Anonymous said...

Despite what you obviously consider to be a very reasonable discussion and argument, Anonymous at 4:50, you are a homophobic bigot.
Every bigot has a 'good' argument for why they feel the minority that they find deviant doesn't deserve the same rights as the majority.
I hope for your childrens' sakes that none of them were born'deviants'.

Congratulations you would have made a great Nazi. Oh, I'm sorry, my mistake, I know you don't feel Gays should be destroyed because they're deviants just that they shouldn't be allowed the same rights as a 'normal' person like yourself.
Even amongst Conservatives (the ones that really think past Limbaugh and Hannity style rhetoric) know that Gay marriage will happen and it's only a matter of time. So before you continue to congratulate CA on their prop 8 vote please be aware it was a narrow win compared to the last prop and the only way it did win this time was through a compaign of deceit.

Peanut said...

Nature makes mistakes.

And with that, you lose the debate. I will give you credit, you provide a different argument than most. A non-religion-based argument that only draws its power from the fact that homosexuality is abnormal. And it's true--homosexuality is not normal. It seems to naturally occur in any given population at a rate of around 2 to 3%. By definition, that is abnormal, because it occurs far less frequently than the normal. And obviously, it cannot procreate.

But then, left-handedness is not normal. Neither are clefts in chins. Neither are infertile people. All natural mistakes.

By stating that "nature makes mistakes," you acknowledge that it is something these people cannot help. It is a condition they must simply deal with--a condition you don't have to deal with, not because of any personal accomplishment, but purely the accident of good fortune.

Unstated, but implied, is the suggestion that homosexuals cannot love. Or that their feelings of love for each other aren't *really* as deep, or meaningful, as heterosexuals'. It would seem that your real argument is simply the "ick" factor.

Your attempt to reduce marriage down to base reproduction is the saddest aspect of your argument. No, marriage is not reproduction. Marriage is a bond between two adults who give themselves to each other for life, and make an official vow to do so. Reproduction need not necessarily enter the equation. We all know couples who either were infertile, or chose not to reproduce. Their marriages are no less valid.

But the bottom line is that there's really not much to fear, "indoctrination" notwithstanding. 2 to 3% will continue to be gay. 98% will continue to be straight, and reproduce. And soon, gays will have the right to marry in multiple states, including California (and ultimately ALL states in 10-20 years).

Anonymous said...

the anon at 4:50 is the deviant in the Animation Industry ...assuming he's even in the industry and not some klingon.

Anonymous said...

Pete Emslie said...
Oops, I made a mistake in that last post! The Goofy Gophers (AKA "The Gay Gophers") were in fact created by Bob Clampett, not Chuck Jones. Sorry about that folks!


Are you sure? I know their first appearance was directed by Arthur Davis, so I always figured he created them. I believe you though, it's obviously possible that Clampett created them and left Davis to run with. It was right after Clampett left Warners.

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