Tag Archives: Disney Live Action Movies

Greyfriars Bobby

Directed by Don Chaffey
Produced by Hugh Attwooll
Written by Novel: Eleanor Atkinson
Screenplay: Robert Westerby
Starring
Donald Crisp
Laurence Naismith
Music by Francis Chagrin
Cinematography Paul Beeson
Editing by Peter Tanner
Distributed by Walt Disney Company and Buena Vista Distribution Company
Release date(s) July 17, 1961
Running time 87 min.
Country United States

Greyfriars Bobby is the type of movie that doesn’t get made anymore. It is a sweet and sentimental film that never wears out its welcome. The movie is based on a true story from the 1860s, when a little sky terrier kept a vigil over his masters’ grave for 14 years until his own death.

This is one of those  films that used to be shown on The Wonderful World Of Disney but has not be screened on TV for at least a couple of decades. I have watched this movie on DVD a few times since I bought it many years ago and it never fails to tear me up (shhh, don’t tell anyone). It is that kind of movie.

I also love the whole Scottish-ness about the film. It is set in Edinburgh and all the actors are Scots, which means that everyone has that wonderful Scottish brogue. Also, one of the main characters, John Trail has the most brilliant mutton-chops ever seen in motion pictures, which means that I must give the film some bonus points just for them.

As an aside, I wonder why movies about dogs don’t get made by Hollywood anymore. Back when I was growing up we had Benji, while before that there were many other canine heroes in Rin Tin Tin, Lassie and Old Yeller (which I will be watching very soon). It’s really sad as I love these kinds of movies.

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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Directed by Richard Fleischer

Produced by Walt Disney

Written by Jules Verne (novel) & Earl Felton (screenplay)

Starring Kirk Douglas
James Mason
Paul Lukas
Peter Lorre

Cinematography Franz Planer

Editing by Elmo Williams

Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures

Release date(s) December 23, 1954

Running time 127 min.

When one thinks about Walt Disney they usually picture Mickey Mouse, Snow White or perhaps Jimminy Cricket. Disney and animation are two words that are synonymous, so it’s understandable that the live action films that he made aren’t as well-known as his cartoons. That’s a shame because many of them are very good. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea from 1954 would have to be one of my favourite Disney live action films.

Though 20,000 Leagues Under the see features a fine cast it is James Mason who dominates the screen as the iconic Captain Nemo. Even alongside stars of the quality of Peter Lorre and Kirk Douglas it is Mason whose performance becomes indelibly etched in the viewer’s mind. This is simply his film and he is always excellent as Captain Nemo, especially when he shows the mental anguish that Nemo goes through when he seeks his vengeance on mankind and those who imprisoned him and tortured his wife and child on the prison island of Rura Penthe. He does not relish having to commit murder until the deed is done, and this shines through with Mason’s performance.

The same cannot be said for Kirk Douglas, who is hamstrung with a truly annoying character. Usually Douglas is a fine, dependable actor, but here he is burdened with some really clichéd seafaring jargon and typically Disney-esque happy-go-lucky attitude that becomes grating after about twenty minutes. It is only when he briefly shows his frustration at being Nemo’s prisoner that he gets to show any substance with his performance. This is not Kirk’s fault, as his Ned Land character was brought in to counter-balance the mood of the film opposite Mason’s tortured soul in Nemo. As this is a Disney film, and their primary target audience has always been families, they needed a goofy, lighthearted family friendly hero.

Another thing I should mention here is the special effects which were considered to be awesome back in 1954. They still hold up well today, especially the underwater photography and shots of the Nautilus streaking through the water. Less successful is the fight with the giant squid, which to 21st century eyes looks a little bit lame. Still if you can overlook that it is quite menacing and the fight is quite well staged.

Overall I think that 20,000 League Under The Sea is a terrific movie suitable for all ages. This is not only Disney’s finest live-action film but one of the best adventure movies of the 1950s, one which still stands up well today over 55 years since it was first released.

* This movie was not released in Australia until 22 December 1955, 364 days after Americans first got the opportunity to see it.