Such horrendous blaspheme has been committed. A poor choice to have seen the live-action remake of 101 Dalmations before tackling the classic animation from Disney Studios, not one I had much control over though. Rectifying this major blemish was top priority, One Hundred and One Dalmations, directed by the usual trio of Hamilton Luske, Wolfgang Reitherman and Clyde Geronimi offers prominent tropes of the Disney canon. Cute animals, a strong sense of sentimentality, and a rewardingly wholesome message make the rounds throughout this one. But this trio of directors, ardent for the genre, put such a loving overhaul into this early 60s piece.
With an introduction to these characters leading through a happenstance but jolly encounter, the quintessentially British tones make themselves clear. Through wordplay and artistic flourishes, One Hundred and One Dalmations thrives on comedic pangs that are paired well with moments of such sudden thrills. Bringing characteristic traits to these many pups is rather incredible, each have some defining quality that will set them apart from one another. Mannerisms are rampant throughout the film, with differing strokes highlighting the divide between the loving couple at the core of this story, and the horrible acquaintance that strives to ruin their idyllic lifestyle.
A brilliant amalgamation of strong musical moments soon follows, the medleys overlapping with introductions to villainous, wannabe dog thieves. Cruella de Ville (Betty Lou Gerson) will be synonymous with the great monsters and villains of film history, and rightly so. A genuine and stark hold on the characters, the presence of this antagonist makes for some memorable moments. Coupling this with a more prominent feeling of whimsy and lightheaded charm, One Hundred and One Dalmations provides the light entertainment I had expected from many other Disney products of the same era. Everything pieces together nicely in this one. The balance here is just right, the coordination of this directing troupe offer up a product that revels in its simple narrative structure.
From its strong animation style to its admirable narrative chops, One Hundred and One Dalmations makes for a charming bit of film filled with memorable villains and the benefit of winning over hesitant movie-goers with the promise of cute animals. A sure-fire winner for those enthralled by man’s best friend, myself included. Fragments of nostalgia flutter across the screen, from its opening moments assimilated into my system by wearing out a VHS tape long ago, to the recognisable characters and remarks they make from time to time. Bubbling nostalgia blinds the best of us, this charming bit animation is hard not to engage with.