Friday, September 5, 2008
My Heart Is An Island
I was recently in Atlanta and would loved to have "dropped by" Turner Classic Movies headquarters to commend them for showcasing Disney films uncut and in their original aspect ratios (not to mention the many other classic films they also present every day, all day). Today TCM is screening for the first time Walt Disney's adventure epic Swiss Family Robinson (1960), filmed in Panavision (and as TCM is presenting the film letterboxed you will see every glorious bit of its widescreen splendor). Disney spent a bundle on this spectacular film (it remained the studio's highest-budgeted film until Bedknobs and Broomsticks which was flmed in 1970 for a 1971 release) and it shows in its lush location filming. When I was researching the film for the deluxe "Vault Disney" 2-disc DVD, I came across letters from the director Ken Annakin in which he detailed his search for three young British actors to play the Robinson sons. After much casting about he reported that he had found three very talented actors who would be perfect for the roles. This was followed by a reply memo from producer Bill Anderson thanking the director for his efforts but that Walt said James MacArthur, Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran were to play the three Robinson boys. Nice try, Ken! Those tried-and-true Disney faves do a fine job in the film, however, especially James and Tommy, who always turn in terrific performances in all of their Disney films. (Kevin is as always "Moochie," but we love that little guy "filled with dynamite who keeps you in a state of fright" too!) And of course the presence of those three Disney stalwarts give the film a Disney flavor, which is undoubtedly what Walt wanted. If you have not experienced the Swiss Family Robinson DVD, it's well worth tracking down, as it's jam-paced with extras, including fun and compelling commentary and on-camera interviews (in the excellent making-of documentary, newly produced for the DVD) from Messrs MacArthur, Kirk and Corcoran. In the meantime, catch Walt Disney's Swiss Family Robinson on TCM today at 5:00 pm (Pacific time).