101 Dalmatians: Diamond Edition, Blu-ray (1961/2015)

by | Mar 23, 2015 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

101 Dalmatians: Diamond Edition, Blu-ray (1961/2015)

Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Wolfgang Reitherman
Cast (Voices): Rod Taylor, Betty Lou Gerson, J. Pat O’Malley
Studio: Walt Disney Studios [2/10/15]
Video: 1.33:1 for 4:3 1080p HD color
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HD, Orig. theatrical mix, French 5.1 DTS-HD, Spanish 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish
Extras: Disney Anywhere preview (1.78:1), Aladdin Diamond Edition preview (1.85:1), Cinderella [live-action version] teaser (2.35:1), “Smoke Free” commercial (1.78:1), Animated short: The Further Adventures of Thunderbolt, Lucky Dogs, Dalmatians 101, Walt Disney Presents “The Best Doggoned Dog In The World” (1961), Redefining the Line: The Making Of, Cruella De Vil: Drawn To Be Bad, “Sincerely Yours, Walt Disney,” Trailers & TV spots (12), Promotional radio spots (12), “Cruella De Vil” music video by Selena Gomez, “March Of The One Hundred And One” (deleted song sequence), Abandoned songs (2), Demo recordings and alternate versions (3)
Length: 79 min.
Rating: *****

Disney has always been slow and methodical in rolling out versions of their older animated titles.  You might think that getting a Blu-ray version of an older film like this one is overkill, but you’d be wrong!  The audio has been updated (or you can listen to the original if you prefer) and the video is just gorgeous—the colors pop and the background still art is beautiful as well.  For those allergic to black bars on the side of the image there is even a feature called “Disney View” that puts still artwork on the left and right of the image to fill out the width for a 1.78:1 ratio. Today, it’s hard to believe that Disney almost stopped making animated films due to the rising costs back in the day.  If it wasn’t for the invention of the Xerox machine that was utilized during the making of the film to copy drawings to acetate eliminating the need for tracing, then this picture might never have been completed.  It is said that Disney never liked the thick lines resulting from the process, but it actually adds to the vibe of the film.

The movie is told from the perspective of Pongo, a Dalmatian looking to find a mate for his human “pet,” Roger.  After a contrived meeting Pongo manages to find a lovely partner for Roger and a mate for himself.  Before long the nature of things take form and…puppies!  Enter the evil Cruella De Vil (one of the best villains of all time) looking to make a nice coat from the the coat of the darling doggies.  When her attempt to buy them from the rightful owners is dashed, she decides to take matters into her own hands and hires some thugs to snatch them.  She’s been buying up spotted pups from all over London and stashing them at an old family home.  Meanwhile, the police come up empty trying to retrieve the stolen Dalmatians, so the loving parents signal an alert to get the canines all over countryside mobilized and looking for the missing puppies.  Needless to say, quite a few comedic scenes follow with the bumbling crooks trying to keep hold of the “goods” until the pups are finally re-united with their owners/parents.

The extras on this disc are plentiful and make this disc worthy of the “Diamond Edition” moniker.  There are hours of material supplemental material even letters from Disney to the original book’s author Dodie Smith on his interest in turning it into an animated film.  Kids will enjoy a lengthy TV segment (from 1961) about different breeds of dogs and how they help their human counterparts live happy, healthy and productive lives.  And then there are the work dogs—sheep dogs and German shepherds who assist with the blind.  It isn’t just a fun viewing, it’s educational too!  Highly recommended!

—Brian Bloom

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