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Perri (1957)
Topic Started: Dec 3 2017, 06:50 PM (168 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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Perri (1957) Dir. N. Paul Kenworthy Jr. & Ralph Wright
Narrated by Winston Hibler
75 min. / Color / 1.37:1
DVD: Walt Disney Treasures

A Walt Disney True-Life Fantasy (in fact, the only one)

The first True-Life adventure to be scripted (and based on a book by Felix Salter, author of Bambi, in fact). The hard life and fun times of Perri, a young female squirrel in Wildwood Heart, and we don't know where that is but this was filmed in Uinta National Forest, Utah, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The sole raison d'etre for a squirrel in Wildwood Heart, it seems, is to avoid being eaten by a marten or a goshawk long enough to get mature enough to mate. Which is, when you think about it, really what we're all tryin' to do, metaphorically speaking, isn't it?

After seven 2-reelers and four features and nearing the 10th anniversary of the True-Life Adventure series; maybe Walt decided it was time to try something new or maybe box office returns demanded it, I dunno (there's only be two official True-Lifes after this one, and a fantasy they weren't). In any case, adding a plot and a star to the proceedings didn't hurt things and based on the people I've talked with, this seems to be the best-remembered of the series. The only real "fantasy" sequence involves a bunch of white bunnies and other similarly-hued creatures trying to eat each other in the snow amidst dancing cartoon snowflakes.

Roy Disney later admitted that they considered the squirrels on the picture "expendable" and they went through a lot of eaten-up critters to get the footage they wanted of Perri just barely escaping from this or that predator.

Million-dollar Narration:
"It is the instinct of the predator to try to quell the flow of life."

You can say THAT again, Mr. Hibler. (Incidentally, nearly all of the narration is spoken in rhyme, unusual for a True-Life, and for the only time.)

The photography as usual is beautiful, and since they were offing squirrels like flies, I sure hope Disney & Co. didn't start the forest fire that serves as the film's climax. In any case, another winner in the series.

Also on the Program

Glad you asked. We watched The Truth about Mother Goose, the 15 min. animated short that originally accompanied Perri in theatres; a colorful, song-filled thing that purported to tell the "true story" of Jack Horner, Mary Quite Contrary, and London Bridge falling down. We had two bonus cartoons, too, including Hooked Bear with our pal Humphrey and a cartoon with Pluto pushing donations to the Community Chest. I miss the days of my youth when Sunday night's Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color was pretty much the most can't-dare-miss show on TV other than the late night Friday monster movies on channel 8.
"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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Balcony Gang, Foist Class
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"Truth About Mother Goose" is a little frustrating, because you wish they'd cover more of the rhymes teased in the opening scenes. Still, the design work is impressive and the London Bridge segment feels unusually lavish for a short. Experiments for a feature, or salvaging work done for an abandoned project?

The Contrary Mary sequence has some interesting recycling (as time went on, Disney grew less and less bashful about tapping their library of past animation). Early on Mary flirtatiously glides by a row of men, duplicating Katrina's moves from "The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow". Pretty sure the shot of Mary running up the stairs was "Cinderella".

The opening on "Hooked Bear" is powerfully nostalgic. It takes me back to the classic one-wide-screen movie house, what with the moderne titles, the stylized Donald Duck, and a backdrop suggesting the curtain classier theaters still opened and closed on each feature.
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