Today! Because I had a little trouble with the fireplace –
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Directed by Gary Trousdale (x2) and Kirk Wise (x2)
Starring Tom Hulce, Demi Moore (x3), Kevin Kline (x4), Tony Jay (x2), Jason Alexander, Charles Kimbrough (x2), Mary Wickes (x2), Paul Kandel, David Ogden Stiers (x3), Bill Fagerbakke, Jane Withers, Frank Welker (x3)
There are certainly cooler, rarer, and better posters for this movie than the one I used above, but I wanted to emphasize how the movie was marketed. This, an animated Hunchback of Notre Dame – with all the molten lead battles, deformity shaming, uncontrollable lust, eternal damnation, and murder – had McDonald’s Happy Meal toys. I mean, they understood the subject matter, but they were still Disney, so they forged ahead the only way they knew how!
Not pictured: guards burning to death, implements of public torture
Today! Because they call me a slob, but I do my job –
Robin Hood (1973)
Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman (x3)
Starring Brian Bedford (x2), Peter Ustinov, Phil Harris (x2), Andy Devine (x2), Roger Miller, Terry-Thomas, Monica Evans, Carole Shelley, Pat Buttram, Ken Curtis (x2), George Lindsey, J. Pat O’Malley (x3), Barbara Luddy (x2)
I never considered myself a particularly big fan of Robin Hood as a character or the rote Robin Hood story, which doesn’t vary much from film to film, but lo and behold, here is our third foray with the Merry Men on this list. Sure, the first one was #395 Mel Brooks’ Men in Tights parody, and the second was the primary source of that comedy – #293 Kevin Costner’s Prince of Thieves, so I guess this is the only one harkening back to the more traditional variety of forest rogue, the Richard Greene sort. The Errol Flynn/Olivia de Havilland/Basil Rathbone classic version did almost fight its way onto this list, and I’m kinda glad it didn’t in retrospect. 1% of the films being Robin Hoods seems like a lot.
It does feature the best sword fight in the franchise
Today! Because life is your restaurant/and I’m your maitre’d!
Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker
Starring Robin Williams (x4), Scott Weinger, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman, Gilbert Gottfried, Douglas Seale, Frank Welker, Brad Kane, Lea Salonga
1992, am I right? Despite being the most represented year on this list, this is the second to last film from that great period spanning my seventh and eighth grade years. Eighteen movies, and only one is cracking the top 100! That’s crazy. That also explains why, when commenting about the greatest years in movie history, I’ve never even considered including ’92, even though it landed so many films here. I’m curious, when we revisit this whole endeavor in ten years – obviously, for the Set of 1000 – will ’92 have forty movies on that list? Fifty? Don’t worry – you’ll never get a chance to find out! I’m never doing this again.
Or will I? Don’t forget what a colossal idiot I’ve proved to be so many times in the past
Today! Because when the ghosts have a midnight jamboree/They break it up with fiendish glee –
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
Directed by James Algar (x2), Clyde Geronimi (x3), Jack Kinney
Starring Bing Crosby (x2), Basil Rathbone (x4), Eric Blore, J. Pat O’Malley (x2), Oliver Wallace
The only movie I’m guaranteed to watch every Halloween (which is kinda awkward, as The Wind in the Willows isn’t scary in the least), The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, I’ll admit, is not the way I’ve always seen it. Growing up, I had no idea it existed in this combo fashion, only having a copy of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow portion recorded off TV, I want to say. And that is primarily why this movie made the list still – but that’s not necessarily to shortchange the opening half of the film.
Ah, that classic tale of a playboy amphibian
Today! Because we’re not safe until he’s dead/he’ll come stalking us at night –
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Directed by Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Starring Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach (x2), David Ogden Stiers (x2), Richard White, Rex Everhart, Jesse Corti, Jo Anne Worley, Kimmy Robertson
Had the Academy not expanded the number of potential Best Picture nominees in a given year to ten, it’s likely we’d still be referring to Beauty and the Beast as the only animated movie ever put up for the top award, back in 1991. Sure, maybe this doesn’t seem like anything now, as there have now been wholly three animated films in the big contest, as of this writing – along with Up in 2010 and Toy Story 3 in 2011 – never mind that they added a Best Animated Feature category since BatB days, but it getting in alongside #174 Silence of the Lambs and #357 JFK and Bugsy was a huge deal at the time. However, despite the large number of ’91 films on this list (this is #11!), it was a weak enough year that The Prince of Tides was the fifth Best Picture nominee, so…
Ugh, Prince of Tides
Today! Because I can’t be a king, Archimedes. I don’t know anything about ruling a country –
The Sword in the Stone (1963)
Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman (x2)
Starring Karl Swenson, Rickie Sorensen, Sebastian Cabot (x2), Martha Wentworth, Alan Napier, Norman Alden, Junius Matthews
Another staple of the ’80s household, The Sword in the Stone seems to fade from the collective memory more with each passing year. I had never been to any Disney theme park before 2016, and then in rapid succession went to America’s both in six months, and for the life of me I didn’t see a lick of Sword in the Stone merch, and these are places simply teeming with swag. I could be wrong, but it seems like the handful of Disney films we really watched to death as kids are sorely represented now, in favor of recent hits (which makes total sense) and massive favorites, of the Dumbo, 101 Dalmatians, Snow White variety (which also makes sense). Couldn’t they create a Curiosities Corner, for mid-range animated films that aren’t exactly beloved classics but still have a passionate fanbase? There are a number of these films still to come, so I won’t completely illustrate which I’m referring to, but Sword in the Stone absolutely fits the bill.
Not on the list, but The Great Mouse Detective didn’t warrant so much as a Ratigan jock strap either
Today! Because I walked with you once upon a dream –
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Directed by Clyde Geronimi (x2)
Starring Mary Costa, Bill Shirley, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Barbara Luddy, Taylor Holmes, Marvin Miller
The older films categorized as Disney Princess movies don’t have a lot of appeal for the young boys, I can tell you from experience. Snow White has those dwarfs, sure, but the rest of that thing is snoozeville. Cinderella is pure little girl fantasy – who is a young lad supposed to connect with there, Gus Gus?! I’m not saying all movies need to be aimed at all people, that’s obviously ridiculous, but I grew up with sisters, and got a steady diet of girl-centric entertainment, most of which I did not enjoy. Nowadays I might be able to find more fun in all those birds sewing dresses or whatever the hell goes on with Cinderelly, but back then, not so much.
Okay, Gus Gus is fine
Today! Because I have the strangest feeling that I’ve seen that ship before. A long time ago, when I was very young –
Peter Pan (1953)
Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske
Starring Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Hans Conried, Tom Conway, Paul Collins, Lucille Bliss, June Foray, Mel Blanc
Cast your mind back with me, if you will. No, not to the early days of the Eisenhower administration, when this charming, somewhat racist cartoon was made – but to the Christmas movie season of 1991. Twelve year old Joe was on the cusp of publishing his first Favorite Movie List – I’m sure you remember, it was in all the major news outlets of the day, all shuttered now by a general lack of interest in journalism. Perhaps some preliminary versions of it had already floated out to the world, through gossip mongerers or paid informants. And the going word was that Steven Spielberg’s new take on the old J.M. Barrie classic was making a big impact in dorky Joe’s life, that it might even supplant the long-understood top movie of his list (Tim Burton’s exceedingly dark and campy take on a ’60s superhero TV show).
More on this later
Springing from that film – the critically derided but much-beloved (I assume) by kids of my generation Peter Pan update Hook – came a renewed interest in the Disney classic, and given that in those days there was no telling how long it may take for a popular movie to make its way to videocassette, I turned to the next best thing. But in retrospect… Continue reading
Today! Because it hurt that my friends never stood downwind –
The Lion King (1994)
Directed by Rogers Allers and Rob Minkoff
Starring Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeremy Irons, Moira Kelly, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Cheech Marin, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Robert Guillaume
Even if it doesn’t have the most entries on this list, I often hold up 1994 as being possibly the best year ever for movies. The highs are just so high – and it kicks off with what was the top grossing animated movie ever for a very long time afterward. Coming on the heels of the superior The Little Mermaid/Beauty and the Beast combo and the funnier Aladdin, Disney crashed the summer and dominated with what is often accurately described as “Savanna Hamlet.” Home video was already well established by this point, however in the early ’90s you saw successful movies stay in theaters for lengthy runs, and I ended up seeing Lion King some five times at movie theaters and drive-ins across ’94 and ’95. This would stick around at least tied for Movie I Saw in Theaters Most for many, many years. Continue reading
The landscape of cinema and entertainment was irrevocably altered on June 28th of this year, with the release of Pixar’s latest computer animated epic, WALL·E, which proved itself to be not only the best yet production of the Disney-owned company, but to be unquestionably, inarguably the greatest motion picture ever made.
- The Best Film of All-Time
That’s right. Ever. And it’s not even close. This is a film in a class so distinctly its own that it barely can be squeezed into the existing parameters of how we define a movie. It so outdoes everything that’s come before that it is almost like watching some new, far superior form of entertainment unlikely ever to be duplicated. Continue reading