Image via WikipediaFifty years ago today, Jan. 25, my world and similar universes belonging to third grade buddies were rocked with an additional phenomenon joining our still warm "The Flintstones" buzz, launched four months earlier. The much-awaited Walt Disney full-length animated feature, "One Hundred and One Dalmatians" was released in American theatres to its initial audiences.
For a glorious winter, we classmates were obsessed with the cartoon puppies in peril and their crooked dognappers, led by the odd, creepy, evil Cruella De Vil. "One Hundred and One Dalmatians" was the second touchstone of our shared childhood pop culture trifecta, alongside Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty, and Dino. The third was bubbling under, nearly three long years away, with John, George, Paul, and Ringo.
I love this film. It is a vivid visual treat, splashed with color, action, and humor. The revolutionary, although somewhat primitive, Xerox-aided animation technology imbues the picture with a "sketchy," contemporary quality unseen in previous Disney projects, leaving an attractive, improvised aura to the work which one-half 100 years later underscores and champions the wonderful hand-drawn art, a classic trade now sadly dripping away to robotic computers.
Back in 1961, while we all hummed the movie's Kanine Krunchies product placement jingle, my friends taught themselves to draw remarkably accurate recreations of these beloved critters. I was too impatient to become a credible artist, so I took every opportunity to watch and rewatch "One Hundred and One Dalmatians" and absorb all 6,469,952 spots.
I counted 'em.
I hope I remembered to carry the Pongo (72 spots).
"One Hundred and One Dalmatians" Original 1961 Theatrical Trailer via YouTube
"One Hundred and One Dalmatians" (1961) TV Commercial via YouTube
"Kanine Krunchies" Jingle From "101 Dalmatians" via YouTube