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Case Number 10882: Small Claims Court

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Walt Disney Treasures: Your Host, Walt Disney

Disney // 2006 // 458 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Justice Michael Stailey // February 21st, 2007

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All Rise...

Chief Counsel Michael Stailey is currently undergoing treatment for his Disney addiction at the recently rededicated Betty Ford Clinic, now called the Lindsay Lohan Center for Better Living.

The Charge

A fond remembrance of the man behind the magic.

The Case

No other studio head in the history of Hollywood touched more lives than Walt Disney. From 1954 (the announcement of Disneyland) through 1966 (his death from lung cancer), Walt had a permanent place in our living rooms, courtesy of the American Broadcasting Company—a network the Disney corporation now owns. Each week, this master showman would tease us with previews of his latest films and theme park attractions, entertain us with original telefilms and series, and take us deep inside the animal kingdom, all the while educating and enlightening us on the worlds of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. In this latest installment of the Walt Disney Treasures collection, host Leonard Maltin takes us deep into the Disney vaults for a sampling of the best episodes from Disneyland, Walt Disney Presents, and Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. The only downside here is that it leaves you wanting more.

Walt Disney Treasures: Your Host, Walt Disney features six episodes: two focused on Disney's original Magic Kingdom, three on the magic being made at the studios, and one celebrating the anniversary of the series.

DISC ONE

Where Do the Stories Come From? (52 min, 1956)
With a little magic and mayhem, Walt presents a stylized look at the creation process within Disney Studios. From story inspiration (fairy tales, real life events, animator hobbies) and the use of live models for character study, to the power music has in bringing a tale to life, you see Disney story men and animators in action. Mix in clips from some classic animated shorts (Donald Gets Drafted, 1942; Fall In Fall Out, 1943; Crazy Over Daisy, 1950; Out of Scale, 1951; R'Coon Dawg, 1951) as well as new animation of Pluto collaborating with his artist, and you have a wonderful glimpse of the family atmosphere at the Disney Studios during the 1950s.

The Fourth Anniversary Show (52 min, 1957)
In another behind the scenes at the Disney Studios episode, Walt recounts (and recreates) his meeting with composer Sergei Prokofiev, who wrote his symphony "Peter and the Wolf" with Walt in mind. We also get an interesting look at a preview of The Rainbow Road to Oz, the proposed first Mickey Mouse Club feature film. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this project was never realized. The show concludes with the Mouseketeers surprising their boss with an anniversary party for the series, and he returns the favor by teasing us with what we can look forward to in the coming season—appearances by Guy Williams (Lost in Space) as Zorro, and Jerome Courtland as Andy Burnett (introduced by Daniel Boone himself, Fess Parker). Even though the Burnett series only lasted six episodes, Courtland later went on to become an accomplished television director (The Flying Nun, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, and more).

Disneyland '59 (90 min, 1959)
Art Linkletter returns to the fold as host of this live event celebrating Disneyland's fifth anniversary, with featured guests Vice President Richard Nixon, Broadway composer Meredith Wilson, pre-recorded Kodak commercials by Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, an uncredited dance number with Mouseketeer Annette Funicello, and brief glimpses of Fred MacMurray, Lawrence Welk, and very young unknowns Dennis Hopper and Clint Eastwood. If you saw the disastrous Opening Day celebration for Disneyland, the setup here is similar, though this is better produced and contains many more filmed segments (Walt learns quickly from his mistakes). Frequent visitors to the park will love the unveiling of The Matterhorn, The Alweg Monorail (very different from the one we see today), and the Submarine Voyage (which closed in 1998). For those who complain that ABC's annual Walt Disney World Christmas Parade is nothing more than a commercial for the resort, one need only look here to see where that concept began. Walt was a marketing genius, who used new technology to his every advantage; television was no exception.

BONUS FEATURES:
My Dad, Walt Disney (21 min)
The ever-gracious Diane Disney Miller, Walt's eldest daughter, sits down with Leonard Maltin for a one-on-one interview about her father. From the early days of her father's many travels and having to wait for dinner until dad got home, to her and her sisterÕs weekends on the studio lot and pool parties at the house with the animator's families, Diane confirms that Walt truly was the man we all knew and loved on television.

Photo Galleries
This cursor driven scrapbook of more than 125 images takes us deep inside the archives, from Walt and Roy's earliest days in business to the final years of the television series and continuous development of the parks. Not for the casual observer, but true Disneyphiles will find them fascinating.

DISC TWO

Backstage Party (52 min, 1961)
Those of you who own or have seen Walt Disney Treasures: Behind The Scenes At The Walt Disney Studios will already be familiar with the first portion of this episode, a carefully scripted tour of the Disney backlot. As a fan himself, Walt loved giving people a look behind the curtain of Hollywood magic. Framed as a wrap party for Babes in Toyland (1961), Walt invites us to enjoy the festivities. Again, the cynic will see this as nothing more than an elaborate trailer for the film, and in a way it is. There's nothing here that was not carefully rehearsed. However, the value lies in the sense of camaraderie and family that permeated every aspect of production. That's a rare commodity in Hollywood today.

Disneyland Tenth Anniversary Show (46 min, 1965)
Moving far away from the live events staged for the park's first two celebrations, the 10th anniversary is Walt doing what Walt does best—promote new projects. With the exuberance of a young child, Walt escorts Ms. Disneyland Tencennial, Julie Reihm, through his soundstage mockup of the WED Imagineering Workshop. We also get a historical montage of the past ten years at Disneyland, including the attractions and some of the special guests who were on their inaugural riders. The first half of the episode will be very familiar to Disneyphiles, as clips of the unveiling of Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean attractions have shown up on other releases, such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. But the second half will brighten the smiles of Disneyland fans, as the '60s costumes for the walk-around characters make their appearance in a well-choreographed celebration in front of the castle. No dignitaries or park guests here, just dancing candles, cake, and early character costume designs. Pay particular attention to Peter Pan (as played by a woman), very skinny and cheap versions of Chip and Dale, hirsute dancing hippos from Fantasia, and primitive representations of the Seven Dwarves (reminiscent of "Those Funny Little People" franchise that hires out costumed characters for parades, product promotions, and special events). There is also an uncanny look-alike for Julie Andrews, who flies in as Mary Poppins to help kick the event into high gear. Oh, and if anyone recognizes what Disney feature or short the three witch costumes were supposed to be from, please let me know.

BONUS FEATURES:
I Captured the King of the Leprechauns (49 min, 1959)
Walt the actor's first and only starring adventure finds him meeting with Hollywood legend Pat O'Brien (The Last Hurrah) for inspiration on an upcoming Leprechaun feature. It's yet another of Walt's masterful marketing pieces that entertains and teases at the same time. Though IÕve seen segments of this episode in the past, it still made me smile, perhaps because Darby O'Gill and the Little People is an all-time favorite and requisite St. Patrick's Day viewing. James Bond fans will want to check out a very young Sean Connery, in only his second principal role.

Working with Walt (9 min)
A new featurette made up of interviews with some of the many actors who worked for Walt over the years. Mouseketeers Bobby Burgess, Don Grady, and Cheryl Holdridge, as well as studio stalwarts Tommy Kirk and Tim Considine, and many more all chime in on the wonderful man they called Mr. Disney. While this is a nice tribute, what we really want to see are interviews with actors like Kurt Russell, who spent years at the Disney studios.

Disneyland USA at Radio City Music Hall (7 min, 1962)
A recently unearthed short created to go along with a live stage show that played at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. After much difficulty establishing a connection between NYC and Hollywood, a costumed Mickey Mouse (voiced by Walt himself) introduces his boss to talk about the creation and development of Disneyland. While thereÕs no footage of the stage show that followed, this was one of the earliest examples of staged long-distance communication that's been used repeatedly in television throughout the years. Given it's age and time spent tucked away in a file cabinet, it's a beautifully restored piece.

Presented in 1.33:1 full frame format, the various pieces show their age with dirt, grain, and scratches. Much of it is in black and white, as created for the medium in which it was originally shown. The Disneyland '59 episode is actually a Kinescope (recorded by filming a television screen) and the degradation is obvious. Even the late episodes done in color show their age, exhibiting washed-out palates and a fair amount of grain. The new interviews and introductions by Leonard Maltin are pure digital recordings and pristine in their presentation, as one would expect for DVD. The same holds true for the audio. The source material is presented in its original mono, with the new material in two-channel stereo. The menus are perfunctory—general photo-static images of Walt with a brief background music loop.

Walt Disney Treasures: Your Host, Walt Disney is another release directed at the die-hard Disneyphiles, hence its limited edition run. Despite rumors that the Walt Disney Treasures line has been discontinued, Buena Vista Home Video has assured DVD Verdict this is not the case and that we can expect more of these beautifully restored, archival masterworks collections in years to come.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 95

Perp Profile

Studio: Disney
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• English
Running Time: 458 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Disney
• Documentary
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• My Dad, Walt Disney
• I Captured the King of the Leprechauns
• Working with Walt
• Disneyland USA at Radio City Music Hall
• Photo Galleries








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