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Disney Is Back…With A Bang…On TCM

TCM Banner-Disney Treasure Vault-680Just in time
for July 4th weekend, TCM is presenting another selection of goodies
from the Disney Vault, and I am pleased to be your host. Tomorrow, July 2nd, the evening kicks off at
8pm EST/5pm PST with three vintage all-star cartoons set in and around the
seashore: Hawaiian Holiday (1937), Beach Picnic (1939), and The
Simple Things
(1953). All the top Disney cartoon stars are represented here
: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto.

Then, in observance of Independence Day, comes Johnny Tremain, the 1957 feature with young Hal Stalmaster as a
reluctant hero of the Colonial Era who takes part in the Boston Tea Party. Originally
planned (and shot) as a two-part episode of the Disneyland television series, Walt Disney decided the material was
strong enough to release as a feature, as he had with Davy Crockett (written by the same man, Tom Blackburn).

The Great Locomotive Chase

This is followed by the Disneyland
episode called The Liberty Story, which
aired on May 23, 1957 and fired up kids like me to see Johnny Tremain when it came to our neighborhood theater. Shows like
this reveal how good Walt Disney was as both salesman and showman.

Next up is The Living Desert (1953), the first of
Disney’s True-Life Adventure
features, which earned an Academy Award as Best Documentary Feature. Walt took
some heat for leaning too heavily on movie trickery and contrivance for the
sake of comic relief, but there are still some amazing sequences in the film that
make it well worth seeing.

One of my favorite “unsung” Disney films of the 1950s has a
historical background that suits the Independence Day weekend: The Great Locomotive Chase (1956). Fess
Parker and Jeffrey Hunter star in this true-life story of Andrews’ Raiders and
their daring heist of a Confederate locomotive—staged to make the greatest use
of the wide CinemaScope frame. If the story sounds familiar, it’s because
Buster Keaton told it once before in his classic silent feature The General.

I’ll fill in more background information before and after
each of these films which I hope will enhance your enjoyment of the ongoing Treasures from the Disney Vault on TCM.

12 comments

  1. Ricky Kennedy says:

    Really enjoyed The Great Locomotive Chase. I noticed during the film that the phrase "Damn Yankees" was uttered around three times. Was this the first instance of profanity in a Disney film? Most resources cite The Black Hole from 1979 as the first Disney film with adult language as it was also the first Disney film to receive a PG rating from the MPAA. However The Great Locomotive Chase has it beat by two decades. Wonderful film and loved seeing it in HD. Will any of the films shown on TCM be released on Blu-Ray?

  2. Julian Carter says:

    Cannot watch these as I live in Europe. However, reports of restored Disney animation films being broadcast give me some hope that we may see a high quality home video release of these treasures. Don’t know if you’re still in the know as to what Disney intend to do, Leonard, but are you aware of any chance that Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music and Melody Time may get blu-ray releases? The current DVDs look awful. 🙁

  3. DBenson says:

    I’ve been enjoying these and diligently spreading the word.

    Yes, I have most of the features and cartoons on DVD. But there are years of Disneyland and World of Color episodes that haven’t seen light of day in ages, and the intros are always worthwhile.

  4. Lee says:

    If I was going to show Disney movies, I’d limit it to "Fantasia", "The Journey of Natty Gann", "Flight of the Navigator" and "Frozen".

    Usually I watch Disney movies for the purpose of heckling them and then writing bizarre reviews of them on IMDb.

  5. Carl LaFong says:

    The "Pecos Bill"segment of Melody Time has been heavily censored for years. The entire scene on the tornado with Bill rolling his cigarette and lighting it with a lightning bolt was cut, while other shots of the cigarette hanging from his lips were digitally removed. The complete, uncensored Pecos Bill may still be available as a Region 2/PAL disc in the UK. As of this date Americans are still saddled (no pun intended) with the bowdlerized version.

  6. Richard Simonton says:

    I always wish for a bit of contrived comic relief, as in The Living Desert, to break the monotony whenever I’m watching a nature show on public television. PBS could learn a lot about pacing from Disney.

  7. JLewis says:

    I was wondering why no BEN AND ME, then I realized it is included in black & white as excerpted in THE LIBERTY STORY.

  8. mike schlesinger says:

    I wish some enterprising rep house would program GENERAL and LOCOMOTIVE CHASE as a double feature. Seems like a natural.

  9. Mark Kausler says:

    I hope you are feeling better, Leonard, and that your health will permit you to do more good things like hosting Disney festivals on TCM! Get well soon!

  10. Karen says:

    I’m loving these Disney Vault treasures, Leonard, and all the more for your skillful commentary and insight and enthusiasm!

  11. Richard says:

    Melody Time was shown two weeks ago on Disney family movies on demand through time warner.
    Song of the South will probably never air on tv again. If we are too politically correct to be allowed to see Gone with the Wind, or Dukes of Hazzard, I doubt they will ever show Song of the South.

  12. Carl LaFong says:

    Song of the South, anyone? Will it ever be available for viewing in my lifetime? How about an uncensored Melody Time or Make Mine Music? Do I have to point out how absurd it is to continue to censor classic films in an age where rape (Game of Thrones) and serial murder (Dexter, Hannibal) is regularly portrayed on TV?

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