Saturday, November 06, 2010

So Dear To My Heart

I stole these from Hans Bacher's fine blog.
They're from a hard to find Disney movie that's mostly live action.
The cartoon in it though is quintessential Disney. It boasts a massive contrast between its content and execution.
The layouts, color styling, painting, smooth animation are all incredible. The character designs are all stock generic Disney and so is the acting and story.

Someone some day has to finally explain how there can be such a difference in the levels of quality between the ideas and the execution at Disney's. Walt seems to be the cartoon counterpart of David O. Selznick. A gross combination of spectacle and mind-numbing sap.

36 comments:

Rooniman said...

Is the title of this post also the name of this movie?

Isaak said...

Would that make Bob Clampett Charles Laughton, both of whom (using Ebert's review of Night of the Hunter) were not looked upon well until recently because of their uncoventionality.

Molly said...

I rented this movie as a child all the time... Thank you for posting these shots, it really takes me back. I loved the little lamb, and my sister and I used to sing the "lavender blue" song.

Been poking through your blog for the past week or so, after watching some Ren & Stimpy on Netflix. Longtime fan of Katie Rice's stuff, too.

I have to say I agree with most of your opinions, and I really appreciate your eye for retro designs, like the packaging and ads you post all the time. I have felt the same way for quite a while!

It's really nice to see insight on old animation. It interests me so much! I had planned for animation to become my field, but thought better of it after much deliberation. I'm currently majoring in PR and marketing, so at least there will be 1 more creative person in that field. :)

Looking forward to reading more!

- Molly

john skewes said...

I'm not sure the explanation is so mysterious. Walt understood the public's taste (mundane, sentimental), then staffed his company with an army of the most talented creative people he could find --and during the Depression, he was the only game in town so he could find quite a few. The overarching goal was to produce treacle entertainment but within their silos these artists produced incredible work. I think a lot of them still do.

Kent said...

Didn't some of Stinky's rants from "Stimpy's Invention" come from Burl Ives in that movie?

Eric Noble said...

Rooni, yes, the title of this post is the same as the movie.

I vaguely remember having this on videotape. I wish I knew what happened to it. I guess I'll have to search the used bookstores to find it.

Be sure to thank Han for the images.

thomas said...

The camera angles look a lot like Eisenstein or Orson Welles

Fata Morgana said...

You know, Mr. K, you've spoiled me. I used to be able to look at modern design and not be bothered by it. But now I can't look anywhere without seeing how ugly everything is now. To wit: I am in the middle of watching Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, and I'm just so put off by the character designs. It's not just that they're bad, they're aggressively ugly - an affront to the eyes.

SoleilSmile said...

But...but... I LIKE all of that sap!

Dubious Duck said...

Much of the "quintessential" Disney stock characters and acting has made the company literally billions of dollars. It was much more effective when Walt was around because he would push the limits of animation. Though even today Disney still connects with the audience well by doing it, even though it comes off less sincere than when Disney was alive, "why change it when were making money" is their style of thinking. I don't necessarily agree with them but I thought of putting out their side of the story, which comes from economics and how they can make their budget back.

Gabz said...

Really cool :)

kurtwil said...

Thnx for Han's site link...lots of good stuff there to complement good stuff here!

Having lost many of his best animators in an early 1940's strike, and being hampered by World War II's loss of overseas audiences (which crippled BAMBI's BO), it's amazing Disney survived at all. But Walt and Roy hung on by making films for the government (JK, your comments on those would be appreciated!), and several live-action/animation features, SO DEAR TO MY HEART being one, none of which had the old animation flair nor got Walt out of debt.

It took CINDERELLA, Walt's film that resonated with America's then war weary and red-fearing audiences, to get his studio into the black again. It also proved to Walt that type of animated feature could be successful.

Devil's Advocate asks: How is CINDERELLA better/worse than SO DEAR TO MY HEART?

Rooniman said...

Thanks Eric.

JohnK said...

.."why change it when were making money" is their style of thinking.<<
I'm always amazed by this argument.

There are tons of stock generic cartoons, Disney and otherwise that lost money. More than how many made money.

Disney almost went out of business in the 1940s, because they couldn't change with the times. It wasn't until Disneyland that they finally found financial security.

In the last 10 or 15 years the formula failed for them again.

Companies would make more money if they evolved and aimed for sincerity and quality, rather than rely on tired formulas.

Carmine said...

What can be done about it though? You bring up so many great and insightful points about animation and the greater society.

Everything is always boiled down to "how much money will it or did it make" and it is a mantra that seems to have become a universal imperative when evaluating anything. And on the flip side, creativity seems to be devalued as not having any "monetary value". Its a really weird time we live in.

I always admired Walt Disney because it seems, at least in the beginning, that he didnt care how much he spent on a movie or even how much it made. He cared more about it as an art form, and doing what he thought was the best job he could do. It seemed creativity came first. He felt if you have a quality product first, then the success will follow, but it had to be in that order. Like didnt he have barely any money in the bank when Snow White came out; he put it all on the line to make something he believed in. Nothing in society seems to operate like that anymore.

The Nerdy Duo said...

For the people looking for the VHS of the movie, they rereleased it in the 90's. It goes for about $5. Even saw some laser discs.

Oh, and Molly, you can even find sheet music of the Lavender Blue song.

Cory said...

"Too many cooks in the kitchen" might sound cliche but I think it's one of the main issues that plagues big budget production. They have the money, they have the talent, but obviously that's not enough; I can think of countless examples of huge productions totally missing the mark and just not resonating with fans.

Without really specific direction and vision, quality really seems to average out and we end up mediocre and conflicted final results.

Pokey said...

And Molly, yes, "Lavender Blue" [subtitled as you might remember, "Dilly Dilly"] is a song I loved to sing and many others....smooth dance music bandleader Sammy Kaye and Burl Ives himself had a 1949 chart hit,of that same song. back in those cover music days [a little clarifcation on the oft-misusted term "cover"-this really refers to two or more simultaneous versions----an obviously surprisngly modern example was in 1997 of LeeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood BOTH at the same time having hits of "How do I Live", coincidnetally from a Disney film, "ConAir"].


As many as ten or so versions of ANY song could hit the charts, and even more that didn't were recorded!!

Read the book by the one and only Joel Whitburn, alias the only statician to become a household name, entitled "Pop Memories 1890-1954: The History of Popular Music", published by Mr.Whitburn's own famous publisher Record Research, from Memonowee Falls, WI, to find out about "Lavender Blue", and any other Disney song of that era.It should be at your local library or from ebay or Amazon.

It's fun to see how many versions of songs, even Disney ones, such as "You Belong to my Heart" & "Zip-a-Dee Doo Dah" hit..and yes, even "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" and "Heigh Ho", those thirties Disney stalwarts charted-The Seven Dwarfs themselves charted with Heigh Ho". Also, Mr.Whitburn's book will mention on Disney songs and any others under the artists entries, some fascinating factoids, like what "Lavender Blue" was based on.[a traditional folk song.]

The writers of "Lavender Blue [Dilly Dilly]" included Sammy Turner, a veteran who'd written other Disney song hits, including a few from "Alice in Wonderland" [which really might prove "Cory"'s comment correct about "Alice"-as Ward Kimball told Leonard Maltin on "Alice" in 1973 ["Disney Fi;ms",orig.pub.Crown Books]-a lot of directors, plus songwriters and voices in Alice's case. But "So Dear' didn't suffer from too many cooks in those regards.

Pokey said...

And Molly, yes, "Lavender Blue" [subtitled as you might remember, "Dilly Dilly"] is a song I loved to sing and many others....smooth dance music bandleader Sammy Kaye and Burl Ives himself had a 1949 chart hit,of that same song. back in those cover music days [a little clarifcation on the oft-misusted term "cover"-this really refers to two or more simultaneous versions----an obviously surprisngly modern example was in 1997 of LeeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood BOTH at the same time having hits of "How do I Live", coincidnetally from a Disney film, "ConAir"].


As many as ten or so versions of ANY song could hit the charts, and even more that didn't were recorded!!

Read the book by the one and only Joel Whitburn, alias the only statician to become a household name, entitled "Pop Memories 1890-1954: The History of Popular Music", published by Mr.Whitburn's own famous publisher Record Research, from Memonowee Falls, WI, to find out about "Lavender Blue", and any other Disney song of that era.It should be at your local library or from ebay or Amazon.

It's fun to see how many versions of songs, even Disney ones, such as "You Belong to my Heart" & "Zip-a-Dee Doo Dah" hit..and yes, even "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" and "Heigh Ho", those thirties Disney stalwarts charted-The Seven Dwarfs themselves charted with Heigh Ho". Also, Mr.Whitburn's book will mention on Disney songs and any others under the artists entries, some fascinating factoids, like what "Lavender Blue" was based on.[a traditional folk song.]

The writers of "Lavender Blue [Dilly Dilly]" included Sammy Turner, a veteran who'd written other Disney song hits, including a few from "Alice in Wonderland" [which really might prove "Cory"'s comment correct about "Alice"-as Ward Kimball told Leonard Maltin on "Alice" in 1973 ["Disney Fi;ms",orig.pub.Crown Books]-a lot of directors, plus songwriters and voices in Alice's case. But "So Dear' didn't suffer from too many cooks in those regards.

Pokey said...

And Molly, yes, "Lavender Blue" [subtitled as you might remember, "Dilly Dilly"] is a song I loved to sing and many others....smooth dance music bandleader Sammy Kaye and Burl Ives himself had a 1949 chart hit,of that same song. back in those cover music days [a little clarifcation on the oft-misusted term "cover"-this really refers to two or more simultaneous versions----an obviously surprisngly modern example was in 1997 of LeeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood BOTH at the same time having hits of "How do I Live", coincidnetally from a Disney film, "ConAir"].


As many as ten or so versions of ANY song could hit the charts, and even more that didn't were recorded!!

Read the book by the one and only Joel Whitburn, alias the only statician to become a household name, entitled "Pop Memories 1890-1954: The History of Popular Music", published by Mr.Whitburn's own famous publisher Record Research, from Memonowee Falls, WI, to find out about "Lavender Blue", and any other Disney song of that era.It should be at your local library or from ebay or Amazon.

It's fun to see how many versions of songs, even Disney ones, such as "You Belong to my Heart" & "Zip-a-Dee Doo Dah" hit..and yes, even "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" and "Heigh Ho", those thirties Disney stalwarts charted-The Seven Dwarfs themselves charted with Heigh Ho". Also, Mr.Whitburn's book will mention on Disney songs and any others under the artists entries, some fascinating factoids, like what "Lavender Blue" was based on.[a traditional folk song.]

The writers of "Lavender Blue [Dilly Dilly]" included Sammy Turner, a veteran who'd written other Disney song hits, including a few from "Alice in Wonderland" [which really might prove "Cory"'s comment correct about "Alice"-as Ward Kimball told Leonard Maltin on "Alice" in 1973 ["Disney Fi;ms",orig.pub.Crown Books]-a lot of directors, plus songwriters and voices in Alice's case. But "So Dear' didn't suffer from too many cooks in those regards.

Pokey said...

And Molly, yes, a lot of people, myself among them, love singing that "Dilly Dilly" Lavender song,too!It was also a song hit, for smooth music dance abnd leader Sammy Kaye and the film's own star Burl Ives among others. You can look up, at local library or some stores, "Pop Memories", [Joel Whitburn, 1985], which mentions a lot of cover versions [Clarificaiton alert: Cover does NOT refer to remakes but to two or more songs on the charts at the same time, a surprise recent example, 1997's "How do I Live", coincidentlaly from a Disney film [w/Nick Cgae], "ConAir", by LeeAnn Rimes AND also by Trisha Yearwood]. "Pop Memories" has mainly a bunch of artist entries but a handful of indicies such as songs that charted..if you've ever seen the book, see how many Disney songs charted, and perhaps more importantly, [heh-heh!] how many versions of Disney songs did! You'd be surprised. I was.

The song Lavender Blue is subtitled Lavender Blue [Dilly Dilly].

PS Joel Whitburn's book doesn't even begin to mention the many NON-charted versions of songs.
Also, Guess who had hits of Seven Dwarf songs in 1938? The Seven Dwarves!

JohnK said...

I love Burl Ives, but he wasn't used well in this movie.

Lavender Blue is great though.

Dubious Duck said...

It isn't my argument I actually disagree with it and am reiterating what the corporations think which is focusing more on capitalism than artistry. Its a shame that they control the industry because of this.

Walt was never like that part of the reason he almost went out of business so often is because he fiscally and artistically took risks in order to raise the quality of his cartoons. Which is the opposite of the corporations approach of economic balance. Modern Disney doesn't have the balls to do what he did.

True much of his late forties and early fifties output is tedious. Though the 1937 - 1942 period shaped the industry as we know it today.

Dubious Duck said...

Part of the problem is that people buy into it so sometimes these products do make money. Quality does not always equal success the greatest cartoons of the forties are all but forgotten by most people now. For example Princess and The Frog is a trend based formulaic animated feature and they still fool the American public into watching the stuff.

The 3 Cartoon Amigos said...

The last page ... I remember this from a showing of Rob Roy, Highland Rouge on a Wonderful World of Color presentation.(though this intro was not on the DVD release.) This is in So Dear To My Heart??? It makes sense as I always thought it a great deal of effort for the short segment.

Mykal said...

I think Walt Disney was an extremely sentimental man with absolutely uncompromising production values. He had an iron will with sugar at the center. I have to admit that, for me at least, the sap in Disney's best stuff works like a charm. Sometime around Aladdin (1992), though, I think the studio tapped the well one too many times for a certain kind of character design (If I see one more "fiesty female" type from Disney I'm going to barf on my shoes). After that, all the films and characters started to run together in my mind. I think at some point the studio began chasing taste instead of creating it. Still, I can watch a film like Bambi or Pinocchio and feel my jaw drop at the animation and feel the embarrassment of tears welling. It’s sap – the epitome of sap, probably – but it is so perfectly done it overwhelms.

kurtwil said...

My Disney supervisor once told me Small companies never have enough money and large companies have tons of politics chasing money. Over years, I've seen that hold true.

Start ups .vs. Corporations echo it, and are the age old business story:

At beginning, Disney was a startup driven by Walt's visions of animated entertainment. Start up = Small crew, intense enthusiasm, focus on product, little money and funding to work with.

Along the way, a bit after PINOCCHIO, Disney became a corporation = multiple groups and divisions competing against each other for internal monies and funding. Once monies got huge from the theme parks, corporate aspects intensified into what exists today.

SO DEAR TO MY HEART didn't come from a start up, but from a corporation. JK nails the results.

Plenty of other animation studios followed that startup > corporation arc.

Erik B said...

the little kalf and the owl look kind of gay to me...
It's disney all over it.

but there are some great screenshots of the film in here that look realy intresting. i liked the characters with the bow an arrows and the dragon at sea.

miha.rinne said...

These pics look amazing. Truly an eye-opener.

What is curious that while it would be technically possible to replicate all this on cgi, I've yet to see a rendered animation with strong colour design such as this.

Pixar does have some of the best concept artists around at the moment (seen their books?), but sadly their work somehow seens to get watered down on the films themselves. (this being said, the traditional animated sequence at Ratatouille during the end credits was rather nice!)

Anyway, this certainly gave me something to think about.. thanks!

J C Roberts said...

"Companies would make more money if they evolved and aimed for sincerity and quality, rather than rely on tired formulas."

I think you proved this pretty well in 1991. And then they counted up the money and once again failed to see what it took to make that money.

To me this process has been obvious for decades, I just wish people controlling the funding and distribution could see this pattern. The fact that they can't and stick to these formulas is all part of the pattern, though.

Disney is the finely crafted porcelain figurine that sits on a display shelf. Warner's is the vinyl figure with a slightly sloppy paint job that you actually have fun playing with.

Oscar Grillo said...

To me, the most remarkable thing in this film, is the wonderful acting of Harry Carey Sr. as the Judge.

kurtwil said...

BTW, Some credits for the Disney MAN IN SPACE show, which had Johnny Quest style animation near its end:

Layout;
A. Kendall O'Conner
Donald Griffith
Jacques Rupp

BG:
Claude Coats
Donald Peters
Anthony Rizzo
George De Lado
Art Riley

Martin Juneau said...

I think we need to stop to buy anything from Disney these days. We're very far of the Walt's years now. Sadly, the next kids will know Disney by their tweencoms and not the man himself.

I think as a Canadian tax-payer we need to stop accepted anything from this company one time for all. They always fool the normal peoples to buy their stuff since decades now, like Dubious Duck says so i share exactly his opinion.

zmerrill said...

"Companies would make more money if they evolved and aimed for sincerity and quality, rather than rely on tired formulas."

I see that as a good point. The formulas are only good for short-term, and that's it. Sincerity and quality is something I would like to see more often.

Take Dreamworks for instance, their movies makes money but those movies are forgettable. And now they're facing a decline in sale, even from Netflix.

SandraRivas said...

These theories from Disney just keep getting weirder than ever.

The same repetitive formulas aren't even working for them now. They're losing money a lot. Their movies and even their toys(merchandise) aren't helping at all to their business.

If they actually made something creative and appealing to everyone, I bet Disney would make a lot more money. They're really in a rut but no one wants to admit it.

ari said...

don't think people go out to make a stink movie but anyone that has had a job in the industry knows how it goes. producers and execs have the final word not artists