One Hundred and One Dalmatians, also titled as 101 Dalmatians, is a 1961 American animated comedy adventure film produced by Walt Disney and based on the novel of the same name by Dodie Smith. The 17th film in the Disney Animated Canon, it was originally released to theaters on January 25, 1961 distributed by Buena Vista Distribution.
The film stars Rod Taylor as the voice of Pongo, Cate Bauer as the voice of Perdita, and Betty Lou Gerson as the voice of the villainous Cruella De Vil. The plot centres on the fate of Pongo and Perdita's 15 Dalmatian puppies after they are 'dognapped' by the villainous Cruella De Vil who wants to kill them for their fur.
This is the second Disney animated feature film (the first film being Dumbo, which took place in its release year 1941) to take place in the time period it was made (late 1950s to early 1960s), as all other previous feature films (except Dumbo) were either set in period pieces or in some kind of fantasy world with no specifically recognizable time period. Released on January 25, 1961, this film was a major success, pulling the studio out of financial trouble, caused by the box office failure of the previous Disney animated feature film, Sleeping Beauty, thanks to the use of xerography for the inexpensive animation. This was the first feature length animated film to use this process, although it was tested in Sleeping Beauty.
Pongo is a Dalmatian that lives in a London bachelor flat with his 'pet' (owner), professional songwriter Roger Radcliffe. Bored with bachelor life, unlike Roger who spends his days writing music, Pongo decides to find a wife for Roger and a mate for himself. While watching various female dog-human pairs out the window, he spots the perfect couple, a woman named Anita and her female Dalmatian, Perdita (or Perdy for short) heading to Regent's Park. He quickly gets Roger out of the house and drags him through the park to arrange a meeting. After an awkward and unusual meeting that goes awry, including having accidentally caused both Roger and Anita to fall into a pond, but Pongo's plan pays off as they fall in love.
Six months after Roger and Anita (and Pongo and Perdita) get married, Perdita gives birth to an unexpectedly large litter of 15 puppies. One appears to be stillborn, but Roger is able to revive it by rubbing it in a towel (because of which, they name it "Lucky"). That same night, they are visited by Cruella De Vil, a psychotic and wealthy social parasite known to Anita from their school years. Having shown interest since a previous visit, she offers to buy the entire litter for a large sum, but Roger firmly asserts that the puppies are not for sale. Weeks later, refusing to take no for an answer, Cruella secretly hires two thieves named Jasper and Horace to dognap them all. The humans try every effort to locate the puppies, but to no avail. When Scotland Yard is unable to find them or prove Cruella stole them, Pongo and Perdita use the "Twilight Bark", normally a canine gossip line, to alert and ask for help from the other dogs in London to locate them. The first two to answer the call are the Great Dane and his terrier friend of Hampstead. Soon, the alert is spread all over England.
The message reaches to the English countryside at Suffolk, where an old hound named Towser receives the message, along with Lucy the goose. Towser then sends the message to the barn, where the Colonel, an old sheepdog, resides, along with his compatriots Captain, a retired gray calvary horse, and Sergeant Tibbs, a tabby cat. The Colonel and Tibbs find the puppies in a place called Hell Hall (aka The De Vil Place), along with others that Cruella had legally purchased from various dog stores. After Tibbs narrowly escapes from the Baduns, the word about the stolen puppies is quickly sent back to London. Upon receiving the message, Pongo and Perdita immediately leave the British capital to retrieve their puppies. Meanwhile, Tibbs overhears Cruella's plan to have the puppies be made into dog-skin fur coats and her ordering Jasper and Horace to kill and skin them that very night out of fear the police will soon find them. In response, Tibbs attempts to rescue them himself while Jasper and Horace are watching the television, but they finish their show and come for them before Tibbs can get them out of the house. Pongo and Perdita burst through a window just as Jasper and Horace have cornered them and are about to kill them. During a vicious scuffle, Horace is knocked into the lit fireplace and Jasper gets his pants pulled down by the incensed parents before both cause the ceiling to cave in on them, while Colonel and Tibbs guide the puppies from the house to their barn.
After a happy reunion with their own puppies, Pongo and Perdita realize there are 84 others with them in Cruella's possession. Shocked after learning of her plans, Pongo and Perdita decide to adopt them all, certain that Roger and Anita would never reject them. They begin making their way back to London, aided by other animals along the way; including a Collie and some cows who give them shelter and food. However, Cruella, Jasper, and Horace are in hot pursuit of them and will stop at nothing to catch them. The Dalmatians arrive in Dinsford where they are assisted by a black Labrador retriever. However, before the Dalmatians can get sneak into a van that is bound for London, Cruella, Jasper, and Horace arrive searching or them. In order to try and fool them, the Dalmatians cover themselves with soot so they appear to be black Labrador retrievers.
The ruse works and the family successfully get inside the van. However, while Pongo and Perdy are loading the last few puppies in, ice drips down and washes off the soot. Cruella spots the disguise and sets off after the van. Jasper and Horace in their truck and Cruella in her car, and in a maniacal rage, follow the van with the dogs inside. Cruella repeatedly attempts to ram it off the road and a cliff (promptly damaging her car in the process), while Jasper and Horace attempt to cut it off from another direction by crashing into it. Jasper almost succeeds in crashing into the van, but just as he is about to do so, a panicked Horace accidentally rips the steering wheel from the truck's dashboard, causing the vehicle to swerve out of control. Because of this, they end up colliding with Cruella and her car, sending both vehicles crashing into a deep ravine. Comically, they are shown to be well among the wreckage of their demolished vehicles. As Cruella screams in anger and frustration and berates Jasper (who finally stands up to her) and Horace for ruining everything, she begins weeping over the loss of both her car and her dream coat, as the van drives away.
Back in London, Roger and Anita are attempting to celebrate Christmas and Roger's first big hit, a rather unflattering song about Cruella, but they miss their canine friends. Suddenly, barking is heard outside and after their nanny opens the door, the house is filled with dogs. After wiping away more of the soot, they are delighted to realize the Dalmatian clan has returned home. They decide to use the money from the song to buy a large house in the country so they can keep all 101 Dalmatians.
- Rod Taylor - Pongo
- Cate Bauer - Perdita
- Betty Lou Gerson - Cruella De Vil/Miss Birdwell
- Ben Wright (speaking) and Bill Lee (singing) - Roger Radcliffe
- Lisa Davis - Anita Radcliffe
- Martha Wentworth - Nanny/Queenie/Lucy
- Frederick Worlock - Horace/Inspector Craven
- J. Pat O'Malley - Jasper/Colonel
- Thurl Ravenscroft - Captain
- David Frankham - Sergeant Tibbs
- Barbara Beaird - Rolly
- Mickey Maga - Patch
- Sandra Abbott - Penny
- Mimi Gibson - Lucky
- Tudor Owen - Towser/Percival Faunswater
- Queenie Leonard - Princess
- Marjorie Bennett - Duchess
- George Pelling - Danny
- Tom Conway - Collie/Quizmaster
- Ramsay Hill - Labrador/Television announcer
- Dallas McKennon - Hound barks
- Lisa Daniels
- Paul Wexler - Mechanic Car
- Helene Stanley
- Barbara Luddy - Rover
- Jeanne Bruns - radio singer "Cruella De Vil"
- Mary Wickes - Freckles, Cruella De Vil (model)
- Don Barclay - Nanny (model)
- Sylvia Marriott - Countess
- Max Smith - Pongo (barking sound)
- Bob Stevens - Narrator
- Paul Frees - Dirty Dawson
- Lucille Bliss - Kanine Krunchies singer
- Junius Matthews - Scottie
- Clarence Nash - Dog barks
- Rickie Sorensen - Spotty
The production of the film also signaled a change in the graphic style of Disney's animation. Ub Iwerks, in charge of special processes at the studio, had been experimenting with Xero photography to aid in animation. By 1959 he had modified a Xerox camera to transfer drawings by animators directly to cels, eliminating the inking process and preserving the spontaneity of the penciled elements.
The introduction of xerography eased graphic reproduction requirements, but at the price of being unable to deviate from a scratchy outline style because of the new (and time and money saving) technology's limitations. Since the line would not have fit the "round" Disney drawing style used until then (with the exception of Sleeping Beauty), a more graphic, angular style was chosen for this and subsequent films. Rotoscoping, a technique formerly used for tracing live-action human characters into animated drawings, became less important.
Another reason for its look was that the animators were used to producing sketchy drawings, as the clean-up was done in the process of transferring the drawings to the cells. With the hand inkers gone, the animation remained as the animators drew it. Later it became common to do clean-up on paper before the animation was copied, and with time and experience, the process improved.
According to Chuck Jones, Disney was able to bring the movie in for about half of what it would have cost if they'd had to animate all the dogs and spots.
The studio cut its animation department after the failure of the very expensive Sleeping Beauty, resulting in a reduction of staff from over 500 to less than 100. Walt Disney, who for some years had spent his attention more towards television and his Disneyland amusement park and less on his animated features, disliked this development. The "sketchy" graphic style would remain the norm at Disney for years until the technology improved prior to the release of The Rescuers. In later animated features, the Xeroxed lines could be printed in different colors.
Unlike many Walt Disney animated features, the film features only three songs, with just one, "Cruella De Vil", playing a big part in it The other two songs are "Kanine Krunchies" (sung by Lucille Bliss, who voiced Anastasia Tremaine in Disney's Cinderella), and "Dalmatian Plantation" in which only two lines are sung by Roger at the end. Songwriter Mel Leven had, in fact, written several additional songs for the film including "Don't Buy a Parrot from a Sailor", a cockney chant, meant to be sung by Jasper and Horace at Hell Hall, and "March of the One Hundred and One", which the dogs were meant to sing after escaping Cruella by van.
To achieve the spotted Dalmatians, the animators used to think of the spot pattern as a constellation. Once they had one "anchor spot", the next was placed in relation to that one spot, and so on and so on until the full pattern was achieved. All total, the film featured 6,469,952 spots, with Pongo sporting 72 spots, Perdita 68, and each puppy having 32.
As done with other Disney films, Walt Disney hired an actress to perform live-action scenes as a reference for the animation process. Actress Helene Stanley performed the live-action reference for the character of Anita. She did the same kind of work for the characters of Cinderella in the title movie and Aurora in Sleeping Beauty.
According to Christopher Finch, author of The Art of Walt Disney: "Disney insisted that all scenes involving human characters should be shot first in live-action to determine that they would work before the expensive business of animation was permitted to start. The animators did not like this way of working, feeling it detracted from their ability to create character. The animators understood the necessity for this approach and in retrospect acknowledged that Disney had handled things with considerable subtlety."
- Main article: One Hundred and One Dalmatians (video)
The film was first released to theaters on January 25, 1961. After its initial theatrical run, it was re-released to theaters four more times: December 1969, June 1979, December 1985, and July 1991.
The film was released on VHS on April 10, 1992, as part of the Walt Disney Classics video series.
It was re-released on March 9, 1999, as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection video series, but only for "one hundred and one" days.
On November 9, 1999, it received its first DVD release as part of Disney's Limited Issue series.
A 2-disc Platinum Edition DVD was released on March 4, 2008.
In Europe and the Middle-East exclusively, the film was issued on a non-commemorative Special Edition Blu-ray, featuring a static menu and no new bonus features.
The film was released under the Diamond Edition in the United States on February 10, 2015.
On November 6, 2018, there was a Limited Release from Disney Movie Club, but it only had the discs from the Diamond Edition.
Then, finally, the Signature Edition of it was released on September 24, 2019.
The film was the tenth highest grossing film of 1961, accruing $6,400,000 in distributor' domestic (U.S. and Canada) rentals during its first year of release, and one of the studio's most popular one of the decade. It was reissued to theaters in 1979, 1985, and 1991. The 1991 reissue was the twentieth highest-earning film of the year for domestic earnings. It has earned $215,880,014 in domestic box office earnings during its lengthy history. It currently holds a 97% "fresh" rating from critics and users on Rotten Tomatoes. This film did receive some negative criticism. Phillip Martin of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette only gave the film 2/5 stars. In 2011 Craig Berman of MSNBC ranked it and its 1996 remake as two of the worst kid films of all-time saying, "The plot itself is a bit nutty. Making a coat out of dogs? Who does that? But worse than Cruella de Vil’s fashion sense is the fact that your children will definitely start asking for a Dalmatian of their own for their next birthday."
Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 98% of the critics gave it a positive review based on 37 reviews.
- American Film Institute Lists
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains:
- Cruella De Vil - #39 Villain
- AFI's 10 Top 10 - Nominated Animated Film
Sequels and spin-offs
In the years since the original release of the film, Disney has taken the property in various directions. The earliest of these endeavors was the live-action remake, 101 Dalmatians starring Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil. None of the animals talked in it. Its success in theaters led to 102 Dalmatians, released on November 22, 2000.
After the first live-action version of the film, a cartoon called 101 Dalmatians: The Series was launched. The designs of the characters were stylized further, to allow for economic animation, and appeal to the contemporary trends.
101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure, the official sequel to the original animated film, was released straight-to-VHS/DVD on January 21, 2003.
More recently, Lucky and Freckles starred in several shorts on Disney Junior.
In 2019, a second animated series was produced, 101 Dalmatian Street, that serves as a continuation of the original animated film involving the adventures of the modern day descendants of Pongo and Perdita and their step-siblings in modern day London.
- The film's copyright was renewed on January 11, 1988. The copyright to the story it is based on was also renewed in the U.S.
- The TV show that Jasper, Horace, and the puppies are watching when Tibbs finds them is the 1929 Walt Disney Silly Symphonies cartoon Springtime.
- Several cast members from Lady and the Tramp make cameos in this film:
- According to a newspaper headline seen the morning after the puppies' theft, the bulk of the film takes place in November 1958.
- However, it should be noted that this was not the first Disney animated film to take place in the time period it was first released; that honor goes to Dumbo.
- The Platinum Edition of One Hundred and One Dalmatians uses the 2006 Walt Disney Pictures logo at the start and at the end of the film.
- The 1992 and 1999 VHS releases use the 1990 Walt Disney Pictures logo at the start.
- Current release uses the 2006 Walt Disney Pictures logo with just "Disney" at the start and at the end of the film.
- One Hundred and One Dalmatians has the most live-action film adaptations of any Walt Disney Animation Studios film, with three: 101 Dalmatians (1996), 102 Dalmatians (2000), and Cruella (2021).
- Thomas, Bob: "Chapter 7: The Postwar Films", page 106. Disney's Art of Animation: From Mickey Mouse to Hercules, 1997
- Finch, Christopher: "Chapter 8: Interruptions and Innovations", pages 245-246. The Art of Walt Disney, 2004
- http://www.michaelbarrier.com/Funnyworld/Jones/interview_chuck_jones.htm An Interview with Chuck Jones
- Encyclopaedia of Disney Animation
- http://americanroyalarts.com/catalog_search.php?p=1&id_nivel3=100&cat=1&id_sub=0&id_nivel_padre=1 101 Dalmatians Original Animation Forensically Examined
- Cinderella Character History. Archived from the original on August 3 2003.
- Online Copyright Catalog search (form autofilled, pressing "begin search" brings up the entry)
- Catalog of Copyright Entries (Source material)
- Catalog of Copyright Entries (Source material (2))
- Catalog of Copyright Entries (Source material (3))
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJQJzsJvpIw Silly Symphonies: Springtime (October 24, 1929)