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Happy Halloween from Disney and TCM

Once again I’m happy to be hosting an evening of vintage Disney features, shorts, and television episodes on Turner Classic Movies this Wednesday (Oct. 28) beginning at 8pm EST/5pm PST. Any opportunity to see goodies from the Disney vault is cause for celebration as far as I’m concerned. With Halloween in mind, the TCM lineup includes The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad(1949), the two-part animated feature comprised of the witty “The Wind in the Willows” and the spooky “Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” which used to scare the bejeezus out of me when I was a kid. One look at the Headless Horseman and you’ll understand. Then you’ll meet the original ghostbusters—Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy—in the 1937 short Lonesome Ghosts and encounter a creation that could only have come from the imagination of Tim Burton: Frankenweenie. This is the original 1984 live-action short subject, not the recent animated remake. (Burton was a recent graduate of the animation program at Cal Arts when he got the opportunity to make two short subjects at the studio, but after a change of regime, the people in charge didn’t know what to do with them!)

I was no longer a kid when the Disney studio made Escape to Witch Mountain in 1975, but youngsters of that generation have great fondness for this adaptation of Alexander Key’s novel, which stars Hollywood veterans Ray Milland and Eddie Albert as well as Kim Richards and Ike Eisenman.

From October of 1956 comes an episode of the Disneyland TV series calledThe Plausible Impossible, in which Walt Disney shows us some of the tricks of animation and explains its history as well. It’s one of my all-time favorite installments of the television program and the kind of show that inspired my lifelong interest in animated cartoons.

There’s lots more, including three different cartoons featuring the Three Little Pigs, the groundbreaking mood piece The Old Mill (1937), and in the wee hours, some Disney product from the 1970s and ‘80s. There will be more Disney evenings to come, including a Christmas show in late December… so stay tuned.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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