The Reluctant Dragon


Action / Animation / Comedy / Family


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August 24, 2014 at 03:14 AM



Walt Disney as Walt Disney
John Dehner as Tall Baby Weems Storyboard Artist with Mustache
Alan Ladd as Al - Baby Weems Storyboard Artist
Frank Faylen as Frank - Orchestra Leader
1.23 GB
23.976 fps
1hr 14 min
P/S 3 / 24

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by SnoopyStyle 6 / 10

What ho! Quite so!

Humorist Robert Benchley is at home. His wife convinces him to sell the rights for his story 'The Reluctant Dragon' to Walt Disney. She drags him to the studio and leaves him there. He wanders around the studio and discovers the animation process along the way. Finally he meets Walt Disney himself.

This starts as a black and white live action fictional drama. The fact that it's not animation made it less than successful originally. However it's fascinating to see where Disney began and what it looked like. It's a studio tour dressed up as a little story. This is terrific as a time capsule and a fun way to see how it was made. This is probably a good movie to show new hires at the time. After 25 minutes, the movie turns into technicolor with some animation. Goofy has a cartoon about how to ride a horse. The final section has the Reluctant Dragon cartoon. This movie has a bit of historical values but as a story, this is rather bland.

Reviewed by utgard14 7 / 10

"You can't draw an elephant too dumb for me."

The film stars Robert Benchley as a man whose wife encourages him to pitch an idea to Walt Disney about adapting a children's book into a movie. So Benchley goes to the Disney Studios, where he wanders around and gets a behind-the-scenes look at the animation process. He's treated to a brief bit of Donald Duck, Bambi, and the storyboarding of a cartoon in production called Baby Weems. He also gets to watch a new Goofy cartoon, How to Ride a Horse. Then he meets Walt Disney and gets to see a 20-minute cartoon based on the book Benchley wanted to be adapted, The Reluctant Dragon.

The first 20 minutes or so of the live-action part of the movie is in black & white then it changes to beautiful Technicolor. It's a nice time capsule that shows us the goings-on at the Disney Studios back in the day and how they made cartoons. I found a lot of this fascinating. I absolutely loved the "paint mill" part! Robert Benchley is always funny. Walt Disney himself appears (wearing a groovy suit). Alan Ladd, Frances Gifford, and Frank Faylen all play Disney employees. The two major cartoons are the Goofy short and The Reluctant Dragon itself. The Goofy short is amusing.

The Dragon cartoon, which is I imagine why most people went to see this, is about a boy who befriends a shy, poetry-spouting dragon that doesn't like to fight. Well, for some reason, the boy is intent on getting the dragon to fight elderly knight, Sir Giles. Even after Sir Giles and the dragon meet and realize they both have a love of poetry in common, the boy still pushes for the fight. Finally the fight takes place, sort of, with Sir Giles and the dragon putting on a show for the villagers. I have to admit I didn't get the point of most of this. Why was the boy so intent on getting the dragon, whom he seemed to genuinely like, to fight? Once Sir Giles proposes the idea of faking the fight, he seems okay with it. So what was the point of pushing for the fight in the first place? Just let the dragon be! I know I'm probably looking too closely at it but it just seemed weird to me. Anyway, it's easy to see why this story wasn't enough for its own feature. It's animated nicely and has a sweet charm and humor about it, but the story needed reworking for sure. The dragon is impossible to dislike. Love his "Ode to Upside-Down Cake."

This movie was a flop at the time of its release, which is understandable. It was a very different kind of movie for Disney. Still, it's a joy to watch if you like little glimpses back in time as well as great old Technicolor and some nice cartoons. There are no hidden Pinocchios here or anything but they are pleasant with lovely animation. Robert Benchley is great fun. This probably isn't for everybody, and will especially turn off people expecting it to be a feature-length cartoon, but I liked it.

Reviewed by planktonrules 7 / 10

Adorable but I think this will appeal best to an older audience.

I am sure a lot of younger folks watching it will be disappointed. That's because the story of the "Reluctant Dragon" only makes up a tiny portion of this movie. So, if you expect to see a full-length cartoon, you are in for a big surprise.

The film is a behind the scenes look at the Disney Studio, though I must confess that it's VERY heavily orchestrated to give a happy look to the workers--even though at the time a VERY divisive strike was taking place. To make this image of one big happy family, many of the animators and other workers at the studio are actually portrayed by actors! This is dishonest but interesting as you see a very young Alan Ladd pretending to be a Disney animator! In addition, you'll see the prolific character actor John Dehner along side Ladd--but you might not recognize Dehner, as he's VERY skinny here! However, I must confess that despite being a faux look, many of the techniques were real and it still was very satisfying to watch.

This is all part of an over-arching story involving the witty Robert Benchley. His wife nags him to go talk to Walt Disney about making a cartoon out of his story, "The Reluctant Dragon". But, Benchley's heart isn't in it and he mostly just wanders about the studio--watching the workers doing their craft and interacting with them. In addition, you see a rough version of a cartoon about a genius baby and, at the end, the story of this dragon--which is downright adorable. In fact, the film is worth seeing just to see this great dragon tale--it's among the studio's best work, albeit short in length.

The whole package is great--well worth seeing--especially if you are interested in the craft of animation. And, some of the scenes are shot in some of the most vivid color of the era. A nice film in every way--just not what the kiddies might be expecting!

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