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Tin Ears

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There exist few DVDs that I would choose to buy instead of rent; the Walt Disney Treasures count among them. Earlier editions of these sets have gone out of print and now fetch a pretty penny (especially The Complete Goofy, which sells for $75-100 on eBay). Having missed out on the Behind the Scenes at the Walt Disney Studio one when it came out in 2002, I lucked into getting it last week on eBay — for ten bucks! I most looked forward to the set’s 1941 feature The Reluctant Dragon, a movie which previously had been rare as hens’ teeth to see. Starring Robert Benchley as himself touring the then-new Disney Burbank studios., the film was coproduced by RKO and has the easygoing charm of that studio’s grade-B musicals and comedies. Sure, the behind-the-scenes aspects come across as artificially stagey, but you do get a great sense of the studio’s close knit and jovial working environment (it must have been a blast working there in the ’40s) and the early Technicolor photography is gorgeous. Ironically, the film reaches a dull spot with the animated short of the same name, an unengaging tale of a wimpy dragon (although I got a little thrill out of the dragon’s mincing, pansy mannerisms).

The next Disney Treasures wave (due out in December) hasn’t been officially announced yet, but the forthcoming titles all have Amazon.com pre-order listings — Your Host, Walt Disney, The Complete Pluto, Vol. 2, The Hardy Boys, and More Silly Symphonies (1929-1938). Can’t wait for the Silly Symphonies one! Regrettably it looks like they’re already double-dipping, with a 1965 Disneyland special on Your Host, Walt Disney previously appearing on the 2001 Disneyland U.S.A. set. More info at ultimatedisney.com.

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