One Hundred And One Dalmatians (1961)

Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman/Hamilton Luske/Clyde Geronimi

Written by: Bill Peet

Based on book by: Dodie Smith



After the relative commercial failure of Sleeping Beauty, Disney was looking for a way to make the next movie on the cheap. Things were so bad, even after so many huge successes in a row, the animation studio was suddenly in danger of going out of business.

Ub Iwerks to the rescue! Walt’s old friend from his early days came with up with Xerography, which is the use of a Xerox camera to put the pictures directly on the film instead of inking each one individually. Something like that. Honestly, I don’t fully understand it. But it made the movie come in for about half the budget and saved Disney Animation.

The story is…well, it’s honestly kinda weird. Roger is a lonely, down and out songwriter in London. His dog, Pongo, is a giant dalmatian. Pongo knows that his human is lonely, so he starts looking for a partner for him. He finds one in Anita. Luckily, Anita has a dalmatian, too. Her name is Perdita (Perty).

Both sets of creatures fall in love. But, instead of Roger and Anita having a baby, Pongo and Perty have 15! As soon as the little ones are born, Cruella De Vil (Anita’s former schoolmate, although they look about 40 years apart) shows up wanting to buy the puppies for their pelts.

Yeah, this woman wants to make a coat out of puppies. She’s a monster.

When the puppies go missing, Roger immediately points at Cruella. So do Pongo and Perty, who escape to go looking for their lost children. They have adventures, find the kids (and 84 more), fight off Cruella and her beyond dumb cohorts and bring all of the puppies back to London…

…Where Roger and Anita accept them and plan to open a Dalmatian Plantation!

Yeah. Instead of having kids, they decide that keeping 101 dalmatians is the thing for them. Get it, Roger and Anita.

Cruella De Vil is one of Disney’s most memorable villains. She’s everything that her name says she is: cruel and evil. Why would someone want to make coats out of puppies unless they’re just pure evil? It doesn’t even make sense! But it’s what she wants. And she’ll have whatever she wants because she’s an entitled…um…yeah. Fill in your own blank.

Other than Cruella, the movie is pretty good, but not exactly great. The animation is decent, but you can tell it was done on the cheap. The story is bizarre. The characters are good, but not great. But I have always remembered the Twilight Bark.

If it had been made by any other studio, it would have been amazing. But, because Disney is held to such a high bar, it’s just a fun trifle.