Chapter Five — The Marathon Meetings of Woolfgang Reitherman
My wrestling match with Ken Anderson now over, I returned once more to Woolfgang Reitherman and Larry Clemmons, working on the story end of “The Fox and the Hound.”
During my time away, development on the picture had picked up, with Larry writing feverishly, and Woolie holding long story meetings in his office with a rotating cast of animators and story persons. And when I say long, I mean like six, or seven or eight hours at a stretch.
Larry Clemmons, Mel Shaw, me, Earl Kress, Frank Thomas and Ollike Johnston would sit around Woolie’s giant director’s desk and dissect the new script for Sequence Three, dice it into bite-size pieces and then reassemble it. Sometimes this would be for the better, but oftentimes not. I would take notes, and the back-and-forth would go like this:
Woolie: This scene on page two? I’m not sure we should have Big Mama fly into the tree here. Why not if she flies to the top of the hunter’s barn? And the two crows get messed up with the weather vane. ...
The rest of the chapter is here.
What is still vivid about Woolie's all-day meetings is how he never slowed down spit-balling business, dialogue, situations; how Larry would volley back and forth with him ... and how Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston got progressively more restless sitting in the meetings and would invariably (at some point during the morning or afternoon) exit to their first-floor offices where light-boards and hole-punched paper awaited them.
At the end of the day, it was usually the seventy-year-old Reitherman who was the least exhausted. That's as amazing to me now as it was then.