Holiday Cheer from TCM and Disney

I’m happy to host another evening of Walt Disney entertainment on Turner Classic Movies this Thursday night beginning at 8pm EST/5pm PST and continuing into the wee hours. As always there is a mix of vintage cartoons shorts, TV shows, and feature films with a particular emphasis on Christmas and winter settings.

We begin with one of Walt Disney’s loveliest yet least-known features, So Dear to My Heart (1949), starring Bobby Driscoll, Luana Patten, Beulah Bondi, Burl Ives, and Harry Carey, Sr. It’s a charming film that evokes Walt Disney’s youth in the early 20th century as seen through rose-colored glasses. In fact, one might say that this film was one of the stepping stones that led to the creation of Disneyland and its idealized Main Street.

Wintry settings can be seen in such diverse cartoons as Rescue Dog (1947) with Pluto, The Grasshopper and the Ants (1934), and Corn Chips (1951) with Chip ‘n’ Dale. A more tangible look at life in the extreme is depicted in the Oscar-winning True-Life Adventure White Wilderness (1958) and an excellent film from the post-Walt era, Never Cry Wolf (1983), starring Charles Martin Smith.

Annette Funicello-Babes in Toyland

Courtesy of Disney

         And Christmas is the cue for playing Babes in Toyland (1961), Walt Disney’s update of the classic Victor Herbert operetta, starring Annette Funicello and Tommy Sands, with Ray Bolger as the villainous Barnaby. I was ten years old when I first saw this feature and the ingredients I liked best were the sprinkles of animation by Ward Kimball and the Laurel-and-Hardy-like presence of Gene Sheldon and Henry Calvin, from Disney’s Zorro TV series. I still think those are the movie’s strongest assets.

I appreciate all the positive feedback I’ve received for these Disney marathons on TCM…and yes, there are more of these programs scheduled for next year. To see the complete schedule for Thursday, click HERE.

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 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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May 2024