One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)

80 mins | Comedy | 10 February 1961

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HISTORY

The film was referred to in numerous contemporary sources and some reviews as 101 Dalmatians. However, reviews in the 18 Jan 1961 DV and 23 Mar 1961 LAT reflected the title as it was spelled onscreen: One Hundred and One Dalmatians. The latter spelling differed slightly from the title of British author Dodie Smith’s 1957 novel, The Hundred and One Dalmatians, upon which the film was based.
       Walt Disney acquired film rights to Smith’s novel on 26 Nov 1957, according to a DV item published the following day. The project was set to be Disney’s next animated feature film, after Sleeping Beauty (1959, see entry), and was expected to be finished in two years’ time. The 8 Jul 1959 Var commented on Sleeping Beauty after its release, calling it “a nervous entry” in the feature film market, which had cost an exorbitant $6 million to make. Walt Disney Productions was said to be moving forward with One Hundred and One Dalmatians despite earlier rumors that Sleeping Beauty’s commercial failure might cause the studio’s feature animation production to cease.
       The 12 Feb 1959 LAT confirmed that production was “well under way,” and that Walt Disney anticipated the budget to be “far less” than Sleeping Beauty’s. According to the 8 Jul 1959 Var, the comparatively lower production costs could be attributed to the fact that dogs were easier to animate than humans. The picture was ultimately three years in the making, cost $4 million, and employed an estimated 300 artists, as ... More Less

The film was referred to in numerous contemporary sources and some reviews as 101 Dalmatians. However, reviews in the 18 Jan 1961 DV and 23 Mar 1961 LAT reflected the title as it was spelled onscreen: One Hundred and One Dalmatians. The latter spelling differed slightly from the title of British author Dodie Smith’s 1957 novel, The Hundred and One Dalmatians, upon which the film was based.
       Walt Disney acquired film rights to Smith’s novel on 26 Nov 1957, according to a DV item published the following day. The project was set to be Disney’s next animated feature film, after Sleeping Beauty (1959, see entry), and was expected to be finished in two years’ time. The 8 Jul 1959 Var commented on Sleeping Beauty after its release, calling it “a nervous entry” in the feature film market, which had cost an exorbitant $6 million to make. Walt Disney Productions was said to be moving forward with One Hundred and One Dalmatians despite earlier rumors that Sleeping Beauty’s commercial failure might cause the studio’s feature animation production to cease.
       The 12 Feb 1959 LAT confirmed that production was “well under way,” and that Walt Disney anticipated the budget to be “far less” than Sleeping Beauty’s. According to the 8 Jul 1959 Var, the comparatively lower production costs could be attributed to the fact that dogs were easier to animate than humans. The picture was ultimately three years in the making, cost $4 million, and employed an estimated 300 artists, as noted in the 18 Jan 1961 DV review. It was said to offer “a new subtlety in color design and a new smoothness in movement,” partly due to the advent of a “‘clean, fast, dry, direct, positive electrostatic copying process’ with the name of XeroX,” as stated in the 5 Feb 1961 LAT.
       An article in the 14 Dec 1959 DV stated that Buena Vista Distribution Co. would offer $18.5 million worth of Walt Disney Productions fare in the 1960—1961 season, including The 101 Dalmatians (sic.). The advertising and publicity budget for the slate of releases was said to be a “record” $4 million.
       Theatrical release was initially scheduled for Jan 1961, according to a 31 Mar 1960 DV brief, but took place on 10 Feb 1961 at the Palace Theatre in New York City, as reported in the 5 Feb 1961 NYT. According to the 23 Mar 1961 LAT review, the Los Angeles, CA, release was co-billed with The Horse with the Flying Tail (1960, see entry) in some locations, and with an unspecified version of Tess of the Storm Country in others.
       One Hundred and One Dalmatians was a commercial success, named one of Disney’s recent “moneymakers” in the 3 Jan 1962 LAT. After six days in release in Los Angeles, a 28 Mar 1961 DV item stated that the picture was nearing a “record-shattering” gross of $300,000, based on ticket sales at twenty-one Los Angeles-area theaters. Disney took advantage of toy licensing opportunities, as noted in a 27 Dec 1961 DV brief, and co-sponsored a “big budget Frisky Dog Food promotion.” An advertisement in the 29 Jan 1961 NYT listed “101 Dalmatians” plush toys from Gund, available at the department store Best & Co., modeled after the characters “Perdita,” “Pongo,” “Patch,” “Rolly,” and “Lucky,” ranging in price from $3--$6.
       A 23 Jun 1961 DV brief noted that the film had been chosen as the U.S. entry for the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain.
       The villainous “Cruella de Vil” was ranked #39 on AFI’s 2003 100 Years… 100 Heroes & Villains list of the fifty top movie heroes and fifty top movie villains of all time. A re-make, titled 101 Dalmatians, was released by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution in 1996, followed by a 2000 sequel, 102 Dalmatians (see entries). Disney also produced an animated series, 101 Dalmatians: The Series, which aired on American Broadcasting Company (ABC) from 1997—1998.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
27 Nov 1957
p. 2.
Daily Variety
8 Apr 1958
p. 2.
Daily Variety
14 Dec 1959
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
31 Mar 1960.
---
Daily Variety
18 Jan 1961.
---
Daily Variety
13 Feb 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
17 Feb 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
28 Mar 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
23 Jun 1961
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
12 Feb 1959
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
5 Feb 1961
Section B, p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
23 Mar 1961
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
3 Jan 1962
Section D, p. 6.
New York Times
29 Jan 1961
p. 20.
New York Times
5 Feb 1961.
---
The Record [Bergen County, NJ]
7 Jun 1997.
---
Variety
8 Jul 1959
p. 1.
Variety
27 Dec 1961
p. 7.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Walt Disney Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCER
WRITER
Story
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd supv
Music ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Sp proc
Sp proc
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
ANIMATION
Dir, anim
Dir, anim
Dir, anim
Dir, anim
Dir, anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Character anim
Effects anim
Effects anim
Effects anim
Effects anim
Layout
Layout
Layout
Layout
Layout
Layout
Layout
Color stylist
Background
Background
Background
Background
Layout stylist
Layout stylist
Layout stylist
Character stylist
Character stylist
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith (New York, 1957).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Cruella de Vil" and "Dalmatian Plantation," words and music by Mel Leven, sung by Jeanne Bruns and Bill Lee
"Kanine Krunchies Kommercial," words and music by Mel Leven, sung by Lucille Bliss
"Remember When," words and music by Franklyn Marks.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
101 Dalmatians
Release Date:
10 February 1961
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 10 February 1961 at the Palace Theatre
Los Angeles opening: 22 March 1961
Copyright Claimant:
Walt Disney Productions
Copyright Date:
18 November 1960
Copyright Number:
LP18715
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
80
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Pongo is a male dalmatian living in London with his master, Roger, a bachelor songwriter who has yet to sell his first tune. Bored with their single existence, Pongo arranges for Roger to meet Anita, a pretty young woman who just happens to have a female dalmatian named Perdita. It is not long before love blossoms all around and a double wedding takes place. A few months later, Perdita gives birth to 15 puppies, much to the delight of Cruella De Vil, a wealthy, wicked former schoolmate of Anita's whose burning passion is to own a coat made of dalmatian pelts. When she is unable to purchase the puppies, she has them "dognapped" and brought to her castle, where 84 other dalmatians are also being held captive. All attempts by the police to find the missing pups fail, and the desperate Pongo and Perdita appeal to the dogs of London, via the "twilight bark." Led by The Colonel, an indomitable shaggy dog, all dogdom comes to the rescue and, aided by geese, cats, and horses, tracks down the missing puppies. A daring rescue is accomplished, and Cruella meets her death when her pursuing automobile sails off a cliff. All ends happily as Roger sells his first song, buys the De Vil estate, and moves in with Anita and the 101 ... +


Pongo is a male dalmatian living in London with his master, Roger, a bachelor songwriter who has yet to sell his first tune. Bored with their single existence, Pongo arranges for Roger to meet Anita, a pretty young woman who just happens to have a female dalmatian named Perdita. It is not long before love blossoms all around and a double wedding takes place. A few months later, Perdita gives birth to 15 puppies, much to the delight of Cruella De Vil, a wealthy, wicked former schoolmate of Anita's whose burning passion is to own a coat made of dalmatian pelts. When she is unable to purchase the puppies, she has them "dognapped" and brought to her castle, where 84 other dalmatians are also being held captive. All attempts by the police to find the missing pups fail, and the desperate Pongo and Perdita appeal to the dogs of London, via the "twilight bark." Led by The Colonel, an indomitable shaggy dog, all dogdom comes to the rescue and, aided by geese, cats, and horses, tracks down the missing puppies. A daring rescue is accomplished, and Cruella meets her death when her pursuing automobile sails off a cliff. All ends happily as Roger sells his first song, buys the De Vil estate, and moves in with Anita and the 101 dalmatians. +

GENRE
Genre:
Sub-genre:
Animation, with songs


Subject

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.