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Monday
Mar142011

50½ Thoughts on 101 Dalmatians

Woof! Guess which Disney classic is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year?

Yep, that's One Hundred and One Dalmatians which debuted fifty years back, January 25th of 1961 to be exact. Let's discuss with 50½ quick thoughts as 101 would send most of you clicking immediately away. The Film Experience shan't ask that much of your patience though perhaps you could share the article with 3½ friends if you enjoy it, or leave 1½ comments behind before you go. The more the merrier, you know? And doesn't the movie wag its plentiful tail at that very motto?!

01 The first charming thing is its sketchy, spotty, doggy opening credit sequence. It's a prime candidate for "Art of the Title Sequence" if only they'd do more classics.

02 The movie was released in the early 60s and takes place in London. I can't think of another animated Disney feature off the top of my head that's this British but then,  "The British Invasion" was just around the corner so maybe America's Anglophilimaniac phase was already in the air in the late 50s when Disney started storyboarding this feature?

03 One can't help but notice the immediate resemblance to the palette and cityscapes for Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist.

04 Pongo, the first (of many) dalmatian narrates and refers to Roger as "my pet". Animated movies have anthropomorphized animals since the creation of the form but one wonders when people started joking about the inner lives of animals? Maybe Adam & Eve even chuckled about how bossy the garden creatures were?

05 Though the movie feels more leisurely than today's animated features, from its opening frame, it's giving you the narrative and characterizations pretty quickly.

06 Pongo wants Roger to settle down. The scene where he's judging human/dog pairs from the window is like one of those now cliché comic audition scenes where you see a few obviously unsuitable candidates before you get to the real goods, the final auditioner, the one you're supposed to root for.

07 Poll Time.

 

 

 

08 If you give it more than a second's thought you realize it's an odd cliché since it doesn't occur in real life. You can take it from someone who used to do corporate recruiting. You can't really stop the auditions as soon as you love someone. There are these pesky things called politeness, appointments, and bosses who'd like a few options later on. Sometimes you end with a real dud, not the superstar! And it's not true of dating either. Most people don't settle down with the first person that isn't totally unsuitable ;)

09 Although maybe it's truthy for cutthroat Hollywood? Perhaps casting directors boot out every starving actor in the hallway as soon as they get their first wow?

10 This post: Too fancy? Much too fancy?

11 The pan around Roger's apartment is so evocative, funny, super detailed and gorgeous. It's busy and messy and bachelor chaos without being overbearing. Those background painters really outdid themselves back in the day.

12 This post is set to publish at 5:14 by Pongo's request.

13 If you haven't left work yet maybe you should right now? The weekend is upon you. Take your furry friend for a long walk in the park.

14 Wait, do you even have a dog?

15 Poll time.

 

 

16 How adorable is it that Pongo talks like a dog when he's with humans and we only get the translation with the animal-only scenes. The sound work is pretty strong. You can actually distinguish between the "voices". The movie is full of strong line bark deliveries.

17 The heavy ink lines around the characters are a thing of the past. When I was a little kid I bought "how to" animation books and I remember that the ink lines had something to do with the outlines for cel animation being one job and the painting of color being another entirely. Different people did different jobs though I don't remember what the various positions were actually called. One was named "inbetweeners" I think, which is such a great job title. In some scenes the heavy ink lines are much more prominent than others which I can't quite figure. Was it a quickie production? Did it change hands? Were there different teams for the different "chapters" of the movie? Any Disney historians reading?

18 Is this one of the best "meet cutes" in film history? Pongo wraps the leash around the humans and sends them tumbling into the pond. Pongo thinks it is. He's very proud. It's a sly move and he gets his own wife (Perdita) in the bargain. There's a double wedding... and soon Perdita has 15 buns in her oven.

19 Speaking of ovens... "Nanny" is the stock plump "help" Disney character -- it's like they don't even redesign them at all between movies but for their clothes -- but she's adorable.

Read the full post. THAT DEVIL WOMAN is coming right up.

20 What do you call the opposite of anthropomorphism, when animals project animal characteristics onto humans? Pongo on Nanny...

"At times she seems almost canine."

21 This following screenplay construction detail is the best in the movie (has anyone read the book this is based on? Maybe they just lifted it?). We've been hearing Roger hum the famous theme song and he playfully tells his curious wife "Melody first dear, then the lyrics" which is immediately followed by Cruella's entrance.

Her entrance would be strong enough on its own but then it becomes all entangled with his melody becoming lyrics essentially, so that when she exits it's not just a trail of smoke she leaves behind but a hit single.

21 That iconic look, costuming and hair. The skull shaped face. Cheekbones so sharp you'd think they'd tear open her own skin.

"It's that devil woman."

In short, this is how you do character design. No small wonder Cruella is a Halloween mainstay.

22. Different times. Smoking does not automatically equal evil in this movie. Roger himself is always puffing away at his pipe. Needless to say his smoke is not nuclear waste green. You have to differentiate it somehow.

23. The biggest mystery about Cruella's visit is not why she wants the puppies but why she feels the need to destroy Nanny's cupcakes.

That's just uncalled for. Cupcakes are delicious.

24. No, I amend. The biggest mystery is that we're told that Cruella and Anita were friends in school. There are any number of reasons why this requires more capacity for suspension of disbelief than sane audience could muster. I mean what kind of friends could they have possibly been? accidental roommates? L.U.G.s? pledge sisters?  Please feel free to explain in the comments.

25. Cruella exits the scene after cruelly mocking Anita, polluting the entire house and expressing her suspicious desire to return when the puppies are born. Melody first, then the lyrics. Fun. It's here where Roger becomes totally irresistible as a character: witty, funny, discerning, playful, and still head over heels in love with his new wife.

The glare in her look
The ice in her stare
You innocent children
Had better beware
She's like a spider waiting
For the kill
Cruella, Cruella De Vil

At first you think
Cruella is the devil
But after time has worn
Away the shock
You come to realize
You've seen her kind of eyes
Watching you from underneath
a rock!


Cruella De Vil
Cruella De Vil
If she doesn't scare you
No evil thing will
to see her is to
take a sudden chill

Cruella, Cruella De Vil

26. Something to think about: "Cruella De Vil" becomes a major hit single (though it didn't win an Oscar nomination. Zero Oscar attention for the movie) but couldn't Roger be sued for defamation of character since Cruella is an actual person in the world in which he releases this hypothetical hit single? I mean, would you write about the person you most hated in the world and use their real name?

26. Perdita is heartbroken that De Vil wants her puppies and suddenly wishes she weren't having any. Vera Drake is just blocks away (and could easily be illustrated with the Nanny stock character template) but no call is made. I realized that is a terribly insensitive unfunny joke but I typed it out and couldn't stop because my brain regularly mushes improbable movies together and Vera really is just blocks away and a contemporary. Maybe she was once roomies with Anita & Cruella?

27. The puppies are here! There's a bit of a scare on the 15th puppy but he/she survives.

28. This birth scene is so 1950s, the men waiting outside the room, smoking.

29. The happiness doesn't last long as Cruella returns for the puppies with checkbook in hand. GREAT visual gag as her pen splatters ink all over Roger & Pongo. Only Roger gets a substantially new look.

30. Can't you see Cruella as a guest on Project Runway or E!'s Fashion Police with Joan Rivers?

NO SPOTS! NO SPOTS AT ALL!

Someone arrange that for us, won'tcha?

31. Cruella seems to be everyone's favorite villainess but I'd actualy rank her third after Maleficent and Ursula. I'm also fond of "Medusa" from The Rescuers but no one speaks of her. Where would you rank Cruella in the Disney Bitch-offs?

32. Pongo & Perdita have 15 puppies and we don't even learn all their names. We get five names and only three personalities ("Patch" who is feisty, "Rolly" who is fat/hungry, and "Lucky" who likes to block the view of the TV with his head. He grows up to be Greg Berlanti) Didn't Snow White and the Seven Dwarves teach us how much comic mileage you can get from big casts of characters with names as personalities?

"Patch" is a cutie. It's the ring 'round the eye.

33. Basically the only thing we learn about all 15 puppies is that they like to watch TV... so really even Lucky doesn't get a personality. We meet lots of other dogs very soon but the time might have been better spent characterizing the puppies. Wasted opportunity!

34. The scary "DOG-NAPPING". It's even gets a newspaper headline. If we were playing "HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT" I might choose this one. It's so live-action thriller.

Out for their evening constitutional, a lovely pair of turtle doves, around the johnny corner and off to the park.

 35. After the puppies are stolen, Pongo & Perdita start the all dog alert "The Twilight Bark". It's here where the movie starts getting a big draggy. The best part is that those bitches (literally) from the "audition" scene at the beginning show up again. "Unusual Breed" and "Too Fancy" aren't so useless after all!

36. We spend way too much time out on the farm with "The Colonel" and "Sergeant Tibbs". More importantly, what kind of cat takes orders from a dog anyway? I'm talking to you Tibbs, traitor to your kind!

37. The Colonel's weak old-man bark is totes endearing, though.

38. The shot of Hell Hall, the old De Vil place is so funny because, honestly, what super villain does not live in a gothic mansion/castle which is always lit by stormy weather? That's a selling point if you're demonic. Can you imagine a super villain living in a tract house in Florida? It just doesn't happen (in the movies).


39. On second thought, I don't think Cruella would sue Roger for his hit single even if she could. Her house is called "Hell Hall" and she likes puppy coats and even her phone is shaped like a demon so chances are she loves being referred to as "vampire bat, inhuman beast, evil thing, spider waiting for the kill".

40. Horace and Jasper are, like Nanny, totally stock characters "The Henchmen". But some of their dialogue has character.

Double crossing little twerps pulling the snitch on us.

41. There is really expressive color work in the film at Hell Hal: Lots of greys, blacks, whites and varying intensities of purples as well as some judicious scary uses of bright red. About that "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" I think I have to change my answer. But it's also a "scary" shot. Why are animated films at their best when they're scaring little children? Check out this veritably perfect and bold composition.


42.
During this escape sequence, Horace lands on a cake, flattening it. You should never leave a cake on a piano, duh! What does this movie have against pastries, anyway?

43. The puppies are endearingly bad at math. Once rescued, Pongo says, "All 15 of you?" or something to that effect and one of his little boys says...

Twice that many, Dad. Now there's 99 of us."

15 x 2 = 99. LOLZ.

44. Once the puppies have escaped with Pongo and Perdita they take refuge in a farm and there's a really odd scene involving a group of cooing cows who offer up their warm milk and the babies take suck. The cows greatly enjoy this -- "the little darlings!" -- and one of them ends the scene plaintively.

I wish they could stay with us for always.

Someone needs counselling. You just met them, cow-lady. Think about your choices. There are serious co-dependency issues churning about at all these farms.

45. There's a joke in the final chase sequences about "crazy woman drivers" and, yes, Cruella is one. I remember hating the live-action interpretation of this climax with Glenn Close in full shrieking gargoyle mode. (I haven't seen that movie since opening night in the theaters, no joke. Did you like it?) But there was also a joke about women drivers (albeit of carriages) in the 1940s movie we were just talking about; so much sexism in old movies!

46. Speaking of which, Perdita and Anita are kind of useless in the realm of intellect. Pongo and Roger are ALWAYS the heroes, the ones coming up with the solutions while their adoring females merely look worried or adoring. Pongo comes up with a plan to disguise all the puppies in soot as labradors as a way to give Cruella and her henchmen the slip. (It works though Cruella catches on in time to give chase.)

"I'm a labrador!" / "it can't be!"

47. Y'know. It occurs to me that maybe someone ought to write a book on exploitation as viewed in Disney movies versus Disney boardrooms. Consider that the whole crux of this plot is that a soulless businesswoman, who thinks only of herself, is eager to exploit tiny cute things for a buck. She wants to make coats out of puppies. How much more evil could anyone get? But... you'd probably be hearing more about this movie's 50th anniversary if Disney, a giant soulless corporation, weren't so gleefully exploiting every tiny cute thing they'd ever made a buck from. How to celebrate the 50th anniversary of something when you're busy celebrating every anniversary of everything, virtually tearing up the heart and soul of every classic into millions of horcruxes to be placed inside of key-chains, tote, pins, stuffed animals, t-shirts, and straight-to-DVD cheapie spinoffs and and and and and.

48. When the dogs return home, still covered in soot, Roger writes a new hit single about them right there on the spot. He and Anita have decided to keep all 99 puppies, bringing their doggie total to One Hundred and One! De Vil and Disney aren't the only ones up for a little dogsploitation. Oh the irony.

We'll have a Dalmatian Plantation ♪ ♫ ...


49.
You really shouldn't play the piano when you're covered in soot. Pretty soon you won't be able to tell the black keys from the white. Pretty soon it's no Steinway but a Labrador.

50. Do they have enough money to put TVs in every room of that plantation? Puppies love to watch.

50½ I know what you're going to say. You...

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Reader Comments (32)

I loved the Rescuers when I was a kid. I have a vague recollection of it now, but I still remember Medusa peeling off her false eyelashes. Also, I think the plot was kind of silly and revolved around a giant diamond in a cave (?)

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWill

I remember loving this film so much as a kid. I remember seeing it with my parents during the '91 re-release. Cruela De Vil wound up being one of the first songs I learned by ear on the piano.

Regarding the inking, there would be multiple inkers working on any feature film, even more on one with so much detail. They would all have the same reference drawings to go off of, but each artist would have their own style that would invariably make it into their scenes in the film. Before digital correction (and eventually fully digital production) became standard, these variations in style were common.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOtherRobert

Love love love the Vera Drake joke. Priceless. Only at The Film Experience.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJake D

Alice and Wonderland and Peter Pan--also decisively "British"

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercatbasket

Loved this as a kid.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSC

Loved this movie and loved reading this. Though it freaks me out a bit that most of our generations grew up seeing Disney as the only animated film maker. I can't imagine if any other genre had only one director/creator: Romantic comedies: only Garry Marshall - Musicals: Phyllida Lloyd... Yes, that was cruel.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

A Dalmation plantation - while surrounded by dalmations in the dog equivalent of blackface? Unfortunate implications...

Vera Drake as stock Disney nanny-figure - so on the money.

Personally, I reckon The Lion KIng's Scar rules in the Disnay villain stakes. Although I've always had a soft spot for that witch in the woods in The Sword in the Stone - Madame Mim, I think?

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaika

My favorite villain will always be the Evil Queen. I root for her every time.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

catbasket -- ah yes, i guess alice and peter pan are also... still, they're all in the same time frame. 1953-1961. wonder why that is?

deborah do you have something against women with skin as white as snow and lips as red as blood?

Laika Madame Mim! god yes. loved her too. er... good point on the song. oopsie.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Reminiscence of an adolescent Disney historian: I'd need to check this, but I'm pretty sure that the reason the black outlines are so prominent in the animation here are because 101 was the first Disney feature in which the drawings on the cels were done through Xeroxing, rather than hand-painted (as they'd previously been).

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Also loved the Vera Drake quip :) Great article!

And as far as the Disney Bitch off.... Cruella ranks third, for me, after Maleficent (she's Perfectly EVIL) and Izme (Eartha Kitt!). Does Gaston count as a Disney Bitch? If he does, he's up there too...

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

You're not alone at all... the Disney villainess rank I hear most often (and my own) is
1. Maleficent
2. Ursula
3. Cruella
Funny how we want our Disney bad girls either borderline obese or frighteningly thin

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKeelay

Keelay well do we want them that way or is that just how they're designed. is there anyone in between? maybe we're just drawn to extremes when it comes to villains.

Brian that would explain a lot. but seriously the black lines get SO heavy in the B story (Tibbs and the Colonel). so that's why i wondered different dept?

March 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Hmm I love Cruella. LOVE. She's such a diva and she knows it.

That's what I like most about my favourite Disney villains - they're all such big-ego divas expecting everyone to be at their service and at their will. They know they can snap ordinary people like a twig in no time.

You didn't ask but my top5 Disney villains are:

1. Maleficient (Disney also considered her to be their top villain; that line-reading - "You fools! Imbecils!" is bliss)
2. Ursula (another one rich in spot-on delivery - I love that line in her villain song, "Don't underestimate the power of body language!")
3. Frollo (because he's just SO awesome)
4. Cruella (for all the reasons you mentioned above; all Disney villains of the first Golden age are amazing and kicked some serious ass)
5. Evil Queen (talk about a co-dependent relationship with your daughter; another one in need of a Sassy Gay Friend; "talking to a magic mirror... really? Really? Transforming into a old lady to poison your daughter? Really? Crazzzzzy biiitch!")

Jafar would be a close 6th.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

I really need to rewatch this film. I don't think I've seen it since I was under the age of ten and yet I remember having a Patch stuffed animal when I was a kid.

Also my mind goes back to the live-action Glenn Close remake. It just makes me giggle to think that Hugh Laurie and Mark Williams played Cruella's henchmen in that. I still remember my stepdad saying how it was such a shame that these great actors were stuck playing such stupid characters. Hee.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDominique

I loved this movie too as a kid. And you're so right (#11) about background painting being so detailed and so much fun in these old hand-drawn features.

I also read the book by Dodie Smith and it's sequel, "The Twilight Barking" which I was pleased to find and have the story continued. Roger isn't a songwriter in the books (I think he's a financial or math wizard?) so all the fun music stuff is from the animators. Anita and Cruella were at school together but they weren't friends. Everyone steered clear of Cruella. Because it's an English book, there's a little more implied class criticism, where Cruella (of Hell Hall) is the selfish cruel upperclass inbred to weirdness person where everything that exists is just there for their use. Anita and Roger have the "proper" English attitude of loving their dogs. There's also some judicious cutting. There are 2 pairs of adult Dalmations, the other pair is cut, but Mrs. Pongo is given the other's name, Perdita.

And yes, Nanny looks like Flora in Sleeping Beauty, where Malificent is still the scariest villain. the witch in Snow White used to scare me too. The older films seem to have the eviler villains.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteradri

So glad you're following through on your plan to (re)visit some older Disney movies. (Can I vote for a post on the Aristocats -- similar story as Dalmatians but with cats -- which celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year?)

P.S. Geraldine Paige (!) voiced Medusa!

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDusty

My top five Disney villains:

1. Judge Claude Frollo - simultaneously somehow manages to be both the most morally complex Disney villain and the most evil.
2. Cruella de Vil
3. Scar
4. Hades - for pure entertainment value, he's hard to beat.
5. Ursula

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSC

SC,

I had forgotten Hades. Another big Diva to add to the list ;)

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

i haven't gotten around to reading this post yet,
BUT
thanks for sharing this.
i have seen 41 disney features and this easily remains my single most favourite.
that dog opening (and mufasa's death in lion king) are my only two vivid film memories from childhood.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

One of my all-time favorite children's book authors, Bill Peet, adapted it from Dodie Smith's novel. Definitely deserves a mention!

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I think we can make a strong case for Ursula being Top Bitch simply because she gets her own song to perform And WHAT a song/performance! Easily the best Disney villain song, if only because it contains witty reflections on gender politics set to Cole Porter-esque nimble rhymes:

The men up there don't like a lot of blabber
They think a girl who gossips is a bore
Yes on land it's much preferred
For ladies not to say a word
And after all dear, what is idle babble for?

Come on, they're not all that impressed with conversation
True gentlemen avoid it when they can
But they dote and swoon and fawn
On a lady who's withdrawn
It's she who holds her tongue who get's a man

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAkash

" virtually tearing up the heart and soul of every classic into millions of horcruxes to be placed inside of key-chains, tote, pins, stuffed animals, t-shirts, and straight-to-DVD cheapie spinoffs and and and and and" Computer moniter = splattered with coffee. It's funny 'cause it's true! Remember when Disney used to re-release everything theatrically basically whenever they had a chance? Those were the days...

Actually, Disney went through a weird British period in the 50s-60s - Wonderland, Peter Pan, Dalmations, Sword in the Stone, and Robin Hood (MY FAVORITE!).

It's a testament to how beautifully animated the Disney films were that whenever I watch one now, I remember nearly every frame (or maybe I just overwatched them when I was younger - I can recite Beauty & the Beast and Aladdin line for line, after all). 101 Dalmations I always love because it seemed quirkier than the others. I love the jazzy opening sequence, and the dog/owner parade is one of my favorite scenes in all Disney. My favorite frame in this, though is the one of Cruella driving with the crazy eyes. You know the one.

As for the Disney Villainess ranking, Cruella is definitely up there, although frankly I always want to separate the magical villains from the non-magical ones. It just doesn't seem fair to put Cruella up against Ursula or Maleficent (who has the best name) - what's she going to do, blow smoke in their faces? Ursula would crush her! But for the record, Ursula is probably my favorite ("We musn't lurk in doorways... it's rrrrrrrrrrude!"), closely followed by Cruella and Mad Madam Mim (who is just totally, completely, batshit insane), and Izme (who literally looks like she could be Cruella's sister). Mother Gothel could easily join them if Tangled holds up.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Something a lot of people don't know is that the voice of Roger was also Prince Eric's attendant Grimsby in The Little Mermaid.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSparky

Sparky -- wow. thanks for the trivia. who knew?

Denny -- separating by magic makes a lot of sense but for then you lose most of the villains since aren't 85% of them magical?

Akash -- ugh. yes. i fear the Ashman/Menken meeting of the giants shan't ever be equalled.

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Nathaniel, I wonder...

Evil Queen (Snow White) - Magical
Lady Tremaine (Cinderella) - Non-magical
Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland) - Non-magical
Captain Hook (Peter Pan) - Non-magical
Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty) - Magical
Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmations) - Non-magical
Mad Madam Mim (Sword in the Stone) - Magical
Shere Kahn (Jungle Book) - Non-magical
Edgar (Aristocats) - Non-magical
Prince John (Robin Hood) - Non-magical
Madame Medusa (Rescuers) - Non-magical
Ursula (Little Mermaid) - Magical
McLeach (Resucers Down Under) - Non-magical
Gaston (Beauty & the Beast) - Non-magical
Jafar (Aladdin) - Magical
Scar (Lion King) - Non-magical
Ratcliffe (Pocahontas) - Non-magical
Judge Frollo (Hunchback) - Non-magical
Hades (Hercules) - Magical (?)
Shan Yu (Mulan) - Non-magical
Clayton (Tarzan) - Non-magical
Yzma (Emperor's New Groove) - Magical (?)
Dr. Facilier (Princess & the Frog) - Magical
Mother Gothel (Tangled) - Non-magical

There are 8 magical villains and 16 non-magical villains. Wow. And I left out some that either didn't have outright villains or don't feel like essential Disney pieces. I think the ones that stand out the most are the magical ones, and on the whole, the magical ones are the most memorable. But even in the fairy tale/"princess" movies, they're dead even (assuming we're including Pocahontas, Mulan, and Aladdin, which Disney certainly does - even though Jasmine is really a minor character, but that's a whole 'nother can of worms). And if we're only looking at villainesses, then it's still a tie (5-5)! Looking at the Disney animated films as a whole, however, the villains are mostly non-magical. Which honestly surprises me.

Dear Lord. I didn't mean to write a thesis paper!

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Cruella was and always will be my favorite Disney Villain by far. I think that the reason she's so popular is not only because she's one of the classics, but she can be comedic while still retaining her villainous value, which is not done for most of the Disney villains. When you look at a lot of them, they're one or the other. Take someone like Maleficent or the Queen or Lady Tremaine who are all extremely cunning and scary. They're evil, but they leave much to be desired in the "humor" area. Then there's someone like Captain Hook or the Queen of Hearts. They're technically "evil" but even the children in the movies aren't that scared of them. Captain Hook is referred to as a "Cod fish" and the Queen of Hearts is made a mockery of in her own court. Even Prince John in Robin Hood is just a baby.They lead much more to laughs than fear. However, Cruella is honestly creepy and evil to the bone, but she's hysterical at the same time because she's so outrageous, so she's a much more well-rounded and well characterized villain. And she wants to kill PUPPIES! How much more evil can you be? Plus it doesn't hurt that she's one of the only Disney Villains who has a song all about her that fits her personality. Although Prince John has one, it's really just to make fun of him, and the song about him being the "phony king of England" is not as memorable or well known as "Cruella De Vil"

March 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdrienne

denny -- i'd disagree with classifying Captain Hook as non-magical just because the entire environment is "magical" you know? but i get your point. it does tilt far more non-magical than I'd presumed probably because of the reasons of memorability.

March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Nathaniel-

I can see that, but does he ever use magic? I don't think he does, which makes him non-magical to me. Although, by the same token, Mother Gothel uses the magic of the flower/Rapunzel's hair to keep herslef young but doesn't seem to use magic in any other way (one of the things that confused me about Tangled, which I pretty much loved otherwise).

But yeah, I was shocked at how non-magical the Disney villains were on the whole. Who'da thunk it?

March 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I always remember Judge Frollo as being magical as well... but maybe that whole gothic cathedral setting with the naked women smoke had me hallucinating in HUNCHBACK

March 16, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I read that Cruella was based on Talulah Bankhead -- can you imagine having a Disney villain in your image?! Anyway Cruella is as funny as Ursula, she's awesome.

March 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbia

Nathaniel-

That's quite possible. To be honest, I don't really remember Hunchback all that well. Haven't had any desire to see it since I saw it in theatres. I got the information from Wikipedia and my memory (that one I think mostly from memory), and let's be honest, both of them can be faulty!

March 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

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