The Reluctant Dragon (1941) Review

Rating U
Length 1h14
Release 19.9.1941
Director/s Alfred L Werker / Hamilton Luske (cartoon) / Jack Cutting (Cartoon) / Ub Iwerks (Cartoon) / Jack Kinney (Cartoon)
About Excited at the idea of producing a film about a children’s book, humorist Robert Benchley visits the Walt Disney Studio to offer the idea. At the studio, Benchley evades an enthusiastic young tour guide and, wandering about the lot, goes into a drawing class. He then visits a soundstage, where he watches a couple recording a song, unaware they provide voices for famous cartoon characters. Benchley later visits the camera stage and then the animation department, where he discovers a surprise.
Where to Watch: Disney Plus

The Good

  • Such a charming, educational, film. While it perhaps might be of no use as a teaching tool for film makers today, it is valuable for those looking into the history of film.
  • It’s much more enjoyable to watch that a straight out documentary. I absolutely adored the framing of Mr Benchley stumbling upon these aspects of filmmaking.
  • Donald Duck sasses Mr Benchley. What a highlight. That interaction was delightful and part of the film’s charm.
  • I also love how the film utilises all of the evolutions of film made to the point of making the film; the audience is treated to live action black and white, technicolour and numerous animations.

The Bad & Ugly

  • Being a record of history, this film would undoubtedly contain things deemed inappropriate by a modern day audience. Perhaps today, we would like to think that Disney would send their artists to a zoo instead of bringing an elephant to stand and pose.
  • The story of the Reluctant Dragon has some connotations that today would not be allowed. However subtle the metaphor might be, there’s certainly offence to be caused by the views.

Final Thoughts

Outside of the problematic story of the Reluctant Dragon itself, this is a charming look behind the scenes at the House of Mouse.

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