Sunday, May 18, 2008

101 Dalmatians: Part 8A

This sequence begins the film's second act. This opening sequence establishes that Cruella is connected to Horace and Jasper and that Roger and Anita are unable to do anything to solve the kidnapping, even with the publicity in the newspapers and the help of the police.

In contrast to many other sequences, this one, directed by Ham Luske, has animators cast by character. Marc Davis does Cruella, Art Stevens does Horace and Jasper, Les Clark does Roger and Anita and Ollie Johnston handles Pongo and Perdita. It gives each of these animators the opportunity to do some real acting. This sequence, the aftermath of the kidnapping, is marked by strong emotions and clear attitudes, which always makes for good animation.

As usual, Marc Davis does a great job on Cruella. She starts out sounding as if she empathizes with Roger and Anita's problem, but quickly shows her contempt for them, especially Roger. She's gleeful over her revenge on Roger for denying her the puppies. Once Jasper calls, her delight turns to cold anger. That phone call erases any doubt in the minds of the audience that Cruella is behind the kidnapping and also demonstrates how thoroughly she dominates her henchmen. After the call, Cruella wonders if she's been connected with the crime, so she calls Anita.

Where Art Stevens handles Horace and Jasper well, they have only a single emotional beat to hit. Marc Davis, by contrast, gets to take Cruella through a range of emotions within a very short time.

I'm tempted to say, "Hooray for Les Clark!" He finally gets some shots with strong emotions and shows that he can shine if given the right material. Roger is openly belligerent towards Cruella. Anita finally has some emotional range in what's probably her best scene. She's stuck between an accusing husband she loves and a friend who appears to be innocent according to Scotland Yard. She feels the loss of the puppies and is distraught over what to do, but isn't ready to blame Cruella without some evidence. This is meaty stuff and Clark performs it all believably.

This sequence really belongs to the human characters. While Ollie Johnston handles the dogs, he's stuck with Pongo reacting to what's going on and then delivering exposition about the twilight bark. Starting in the next sequence, the animals take center stage.

1 comment:

Thad said...

I always really liked this scene. Horace and Jasper's wanting to get out of the plot immediately after the fact adds a lot of humanity to their character. Like they still have some real redeeming features left, and not in a contrived way. It's something a lot of other Disney features just don't have.