Glenn Beck, Donald Duck — one is a brainless cartoon character who’s always in the wrong and had wacky misadventures, and the other is Donald Duck. (Bet you saw that one coming a mile away.)
I was going to post this later, but as my source for this, Roger Ebert, tweets, better to put it up sooner before the Disney lawyers get to it — though I guess some believe there may be possible extra added first amendment protection as it’s overtly political speech. Anyhow, nice use of some great classic-era cartoons from the Walt Disney factory at its peak. You knew “The Three Caballeros” had to get in there at some point. Wonder what they’ll make of this at Breitbart’s Big Hollywood?
Regulars might have noticed a bit less movie news this week. Don’t worry, I won’t try to cover everything that happened in movieland this week tonight. Unfortunately, I have to start with three notable deaths.
* The saddest for me personally, and perhaps for some of you horror fans out there, is the most recent. Dan O’Bannon has died from Crohn’s Disease at age 63. Best known for the horror-comedy hit, “The Return of the Living Dead,” and for writing the screenplay for “Alien,” O’Bannon emerged out of U.S.C.’s film school with his friend, John Carpenter and together they collaborated on an odd science fiction comedy called “Dark Star.” While few remember that film, it set them both on a pretty interesting path.
When I was in the middle of high school and at the height of my geekness (three terms as president of the Venice High science fiction club!), I actually met O’Bannon in some odd circumstances at a crisis point in his career. Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you the story, but suffice it to say he seemed like a good guy and he was clearly something of a minor genius. He’ll be very much missed.
* Roy Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney and the son of Roy O. Disney, also passed on at age 79. The younger Disney emerged as a king-maker and king-breaker of sorts, launching insurgent movements that wound up putting Michael Eisner in charge of the studio in 1984 and then deposing him in 2004.
* Finally, if you’re a former film student like myself you’ve probably had to read some of the work of famed academic critic and scholar Robin Wood, who was so respected that almost no one noticed when serious film-criticism aficionado Joss Whedon named a supercool cool high school principal/cum monster-fighter after him on “Buffy.” (How could anyone namecheck him on a mere TV show? It had to be a coincidence.) One of the first critics to approach genre films seriously, he is famous for works on Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks, among many others. He has passed on at age 78, and the always interesting Glenn Kenny has a remembrance.
So, as I mentioned below, yesterday was Jean-Luc Godard‘s 78th birthday and now today is the 108th birthday of a very different and, like it or not, even more influential cinema visionary: Walt Disney. As I’m sure Godard would agree, among other things, Disney was a master propagandist and this Word War II era anti-Nazi cartoon is a striking piece of work indeed and, as things sadly turned out, ony a little bit exaggerated.
And here’s a far more effective piece of propaganda that crosses the line into hilarious art. The Oscar winning “Der Fuhrer’s Face.”
It’s Labor Day weekend. I’ve got some plans of my own this Sunday, for a change, so I’m putting off this week’s box office report for tomorrow. (As I write this, however, it’s looking like what I said on Friday morning is once again going to be wrong.) In the meantime, please enjoy this Labor Day themed clip from Walt Disney’s historic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
A couple of thoughts. I’d forgotten the dwarfs are all diamond miners, and such lucky ones. You’d think their standard of living would be better, under the circumstances. Maybe Doc or Grumpy are skimming off the top. The rest could use a union. Or, considering their extremely lax security, perhaps the wicked queen is just stealing from them every night. They should considering hiring Brinks. I hope they’re reading.
The Marvel purchase, like the $7.4-billion deal Iger negotiated in 2006 to bring Pixar into the Disney fold, is another sign that Disney’s top brass realizes that the company’s reign as an original creative engine for mass entertainment is over. Once an idea factory full of brilliant animators and imagineers, Disney is now a mass merchandising machine in search of exploitable product, whether it comes from Marvel, Pixar or DreamWorks, which will be releasing its upcoming slate through Disney as well.