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The Vanishing Prairie (1954)
Topic Started: Apr 5 2017, 08:10 PM (196 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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The Vanishing Prairie
(1954) Dir. James Algar
A Walt Disney True-Life Adventure
71 min. / Technicolor / 1.37:1

After the usual animated "paint brush" opening (and a beautiful opening it is, with really nice cave drawings and all) we're transported back to an American prairie that no longer exists, sadly, but for a little more than an hour we're going to get up close to an awful lot of interesting North American native species.

Well, as usual, the animals in the film are mostly concerned with mating, raising their young, and eating each other, in roughly that order. An awful lot of time is spent on prairie dogs, which are apparently the go-to food for most of the other creatures on the prairie: these dogs, it seems, must be delicious, because nearly everything and everybody enjoys munching on them. Had a deer said, "I know I'm vegan, but my GOSH that li'l feller looks tasty" and tried to take a bite out of him, it wouldn't have surprised me. We also learned that Native American dancing is patterned after the mating dance of the grouse (hence the feathers), that coyotes simply don't like rattlesnakes, and that if you show a live buffalo birth, you're likely to be banned by the state of New York (and probably arrested on a morals charge).

Too-cute musical moment of the night: rams butt heads while "The Anvil Chorus" plays.

Another outstanding Disney True-Life; I love these things (this won the series' seventh Academy Award). This one sort of leads to a climax, with a mammoth battle between two buffalo (the object is for one to get the other on its back and gore it) and a prairie fire and flood.

Million-dollar Narration:
On the coyote: "In some localities, he wears the brand of outlaw, but nature labels no creature either good or bad. To her, all are equal and must be given an equal chance to survive."

If you stuck a gun to my head (but don't) I'd tell you that this is probably not quite as good as The Living Desert, but it's excellent nonetheless.

Also on the Program

A trio of Disney classic cartoons, including Mickey Mouse in The Barnyard Battle (1929), in which Mickey - after passing a physical, and yes, the doctor made him pull his pants down - makes the football team and gets to play against huge, ferocious cats; The Robber Kitten (1935), an adorable Silly Symphonies offering with a kitten that wants to be a Highwayman; and the funny Self Control, with Donald Duck taking a radio course in how to control your temper. Uh-huh. You can guess how well THAT worked out for him.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Chandu
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Champeen of Justice and Seeker of Knowledge, but rascal at heart!
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I saw this back when it was first released and I too liked Living Desert marginally better (mebbe 'cause I saw it first?). Back in 1954 that prairie did still exist.
Not plane, nor bird, nor even frog. It's just little ol' me...
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CliffClaven
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Balcony Gang, Foist Class
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Chandu
Apr 11 2017, 04:05 PM
I saw this back when it was first released and I too liked Living Desert marginally better (mebbe 'cause I saw it first?). Back in 1954 that prairie did still exist.
But even then the film's narration emphasizes that it IS vanishing. If memory serves the film presented this as a poignant fact, neither taking an environmentalist stand nor putting in a good word for "progress."
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