Friday, January 01, 2016


Seems like it only happened 74 years ago.

In the “Baby Weems” sequence in the Disney feature The Reluctant Dragon (1941), Mount Rushmore is seen with only George Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s heads. The faces were still under construction until October 1941 and this movie was released before it was finished, which is why presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson are missing.

The Mickey Avenue/Dopey Drive signpost outside the Animation Building was built specifically for the movie, and was supposed to be removed afterward. It wasn’t, and it still stands at the Disney studio today. ...

While we're posting factoids, longtime Disney writer Larry Clemmons left assistant animation work behind around this time. Larry appears in one of the live-action segments with Walt (he's one of the Disney staffers in the screening room scene). He also received story credit on the picture.

Mr. Clemmons departed Walt Disney Productions shortly his work on The Reluctant Dragon was completed. He had been an employee since 1930, but he exited just before the Disney strike, not returning until the mid 1950s. During his time away, he wrote technical manuals at a war plant and became a writer for Bing Crosby's network radio show, where he worked for almost a decade.

When he came back to the studio, he worked as a writer and segment producer on the Mickey Mouse Club. The assignment was supposed to last a couple of months, but he remained at the Mouse House for twenty-two years, working on Walt's spoken introductions for Disneyland/The Wonderful World of Color, finally returning to animated feature work on Jungle Book, Aristocats, Robin Hood, The Rescuers and The Fox and the Hound.

Add On: The Reluctant Dragon was released mid '41 during the Disney strike. Picketers showed up at Dragon's Hollywood opening, some of them arriving in limousines and evening dress.

You can see some of the strikers' handiwork here and here (scroll down for the pics).

As Turner Classic Movies relates:

... At the premiere of The Reluctant Dragon at the Pantages Theater, picketers marched in front of the theater entrance with extraordinarily well-drawn caricatures of Walt Disney as a fire-breathing dragon, above the slogan "The Reluctant Disney." The placards were well-drawn because they were drawn by the very artists who'd made the movie, now on strike against Uncle Walt.

There are many different ways of telling the story of Disney's labor strike, but it is not unfair to say that the artists who worked at Disney felt underpaid and unappreciated. Ever since the grueling slog of making Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, they had been working unpaid overtime to help secure popularity, profits, and awards for their boss. Although The Reluctant Dragon depicted the new Burbank Studio as a bright, whimsical campus full of shiny, happy artists, many of the actual staff thought of it as a grim sweatshop. ...


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