The Reluctant Dragon (1941)
It’s not surprising I hadn’t heard of this movie. As the titles explain, it’s more of an excuse to tour the Disney animation facilities and see how their movies are made. The tourist is Robert Benchley (a comedian of the era) who takes us through the buildings, interacting with actual staff and acquiring gifts on the way. He is perused by a young fellow that appears to be a cross between a Boy Scout and a member of the Hitler Youth Movement. This leads to a fair bit of snappy dialogue among him and staff.
There is a fun part where he reached the Technicolor section and the monochrome film suddenly changes to colour. Also of interest was the giant (3-4m tall) camera rig used to photograph the cell animation.
The film is interspersed with animation sequences:
- A monochrome Dumbo sequence featuring a train.
- Baby Weems, told in partially animated storyboard.
- Goofy’s How to Ride a horse.
- And ‘The Reluctant Dragon’, based on the book by Kenneth Grahame.
It’s not clear who the movie is aimed at, the initial scenes look like a drama, but the animations will appeal to children of all ages.