Who’s afraid of Song of the South and other titles, Selections from the Samland Library,

Written by Sam Gennawey. Posted in Samland

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Published on March 28, 2013 at 4:03 am with 9 Comments

Sam Gennawey reviews three interesting pieces for Disney fans today.  First up is the fascinating book, Who’s afraid of Song of the South? by Jim Korkis.  Next is information for the Disney geeks that are techno savvy.  Do you have a hard time keeping track of the Disney movies you have seen?  There’s an app for that. Finally, we trim things up by hearing what Sam thought of MiceChat favorite, Floyd Norman’s, new book, Animated Life.  Learn about his career and what it was really like to work as an animator at Disney.

WHO’S AFRAID OF THE SONG OF THE SOUTH?

And Other Forbidden Disney Stories
Jim Korkis
2012
Theme Park Press

Most Disney parks fans have ridden Splash Mountain. But very few have ever seen the movie that the attraction is based upon. I have. I have seen Song of the South. I would join those who feel that the film should be rereleased. With that said, what does Disney Historian Jim Korkis has to say? Well, quite a lot.

Jim is regarded as one of the most thoughtful of the Disney Historians and if you ever get a chance to hear him speak, please do yourself the favor. In his typical comprehensive fashion, Jim first takes a look at the original source material, how Walt and his team massaged the story and brought Chandler Harris’ character come to life. We follow the film through its debut and controversy. Jim examines the impact and controversy in a balanced fashion.

The next section rounds out the making and marketing of the film with more than a dozen additional stories with insights into the exploitation of the intellectual property. The characters for Song of the South were considered for a comic strip and did make it into a theme park ride. All of those details are included. Jim evens relives a Saturday Night Live parody of the film and controversy.

But that is only half of the book. The rest is a collection of more adult oriented Disney stories. The way I look at it, Jim’s The Revised Vault of Walt, is the G-Rated book and this one is at least PG-13. Just the chapter titles alone should spark some interest: Disney’s Story of Menstruation, Disney Attacks Venereal Disease, Disneyland Memorial Orgy Poster Story, and my favorite Jessica Rabbit: Drawn To Be Bad.

What Jim does best is to fill in the gaps between the stories you may already know. It is quite a talent and the book is an enjoyable read.

I received this book gratis for the purpose of this review.

 

WALT – The App

Available at the Apple App Store

You “cannot manage what you cannot measure” is a popular organizational development refrain. Are you a fan of Disney animation? See everything? Download WALT the App and find out. This clever iPhone App was inspired by the logbooks that birdwatchers carry with them. The App has a listing of almost 600 Disney and Pixar animated features and shorts sorted in virtually any way that you would want. Check the box if you have seen it and it will keep track of your depth of experience. Well worth the 99 cents. In my case, I received a copy free for the purpose of this review.

 

ANIMATED LIFE

A Lifetime of Tips, Tricks, and Stories From a Disney Legend.
Floyd Norman
2013
Focal Press

In February, I was honored to interview Floyd Norman at the MiceAge 10th anniversary spectacular at the Disneyland Resort. We learned a lot about Floyd and his upcoming book, but not nearly enough. He’s warm, funny, and a true Disney animation legend. His new book has finally been released and is really three books tied together by a common author.

The first section focuses on Floyd’s early career. He started at the Disney Studios in February 1956 and his insider stories are delightful and enlightening. The chapter is peppered with candid photos such as Floyd and animator Rick Gonzales peeking at an early issue of Playboy magazine. Research: “Every good artist should be knowledgable when it comes to anatomy. Rick and Floyd take their studies seriously.” In somewhat the same vein, I have learned that the underground tunnel that connected the animation building to the Ink & Paint and Camera Buildings were used for more than just transporting animation cels.

One of the things Floyd enjoyed most in those early days was just looking at all of the great artwork on the walls. For example, Eyvind Earle, who responsible for the look of Sleeping Beauty, regularly posted his work for others to study. “It’s difficult to explain how we felt that day as we stared slack-jawed at the most incredible artwork we had ever seen,” Floyd said. His first boss was another Disney Legend, Rolly Crump. Floyd gives you an honest insight on how things worked back in those days. If you are a fan of the film The Jungle Book, then the section on that topic is worth the price right there.

As a second generation animator, he thought he was in paradise. However, those who came before would disagree and we get in insight into the studio hierarchy. Many years later, Floyd returned to the Disney Studios and noticed things had changed once again. Unlike when he started, there was no artwork pinned up on the walls. When he asked someone they said, “We don’t want the artwork in view. It’s much too valuable.” Floyd’s reply was, “Give me a break!”

After he left Disney, Floyd filmed the 1965 Watts Riots in Los Angeles He recalled, “One gang waited patiently for our cameraman to reload before torching a building. Clearly, the rioter was hoping for a spot on the evening news and a few seconds of air time.” Floyd also worked on bill Cosby’s Fat Albert Special.

He returned to Disney to work on the Mickey Mouse comic strip. His storytelling skills were put to excellent use. He was brought in to help save Dinosaur. He said of the story, “As was typical of Disney animated filmmaking at the time, visual humor had been replaced by “smart-ass” dialog from live-action screen writers. Instead of the film having its own sense of time and place, you felt like you were listening to two teenagers from the San Fernando Valley.” From there he went to Pixar to work on Toy Story 2. What a career. He worked closely with both Walt Disney and Steve Jobs. His insights into those working relationships is telling. He felt “Pixar was the anti-Disney.”

The second part of the book is for those interested in animation. Especially for those who want to make a living at the craft. He provides wonderful tips on how to be the best animator or storyman you can be. The book is colorfully illustrated with Floyd’s drawings.

The final section is a series of 17 mini-workbooks on specific topics related to the animation process. The book is candid. Sometimes surprisingly so. That is a good thing. Working at Disney was not all pixie dust. It was a real workplace. How one survives is important.

I purchased the eBook from Amazon.

 

Do any of these titles strike a cord with you? Adding anything to your wish list?

About Sam Gennawey

Sam Gennawey is an urban planner who has collaborated with communities throughout California over the course of more than 100 projects to create a great, big, beautiful tomorrow. Sam is a member of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Regional Planning History Group, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving municipal, county, and private sector planning documents from throughout Los Angeles County. Sam is the author of Walt and the Promise of Progress City which you can find on Amazon.

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9 Comments

Comments for Who’s afraid of Song of the South and other titles, Selections from the Samland Library, are now closed.

  1. It’s worth noting that the whole Song of the South film is on youtube – hidden in plain sight.

    • Thank you so much!

  2. More fascinating information to explore! Thank you, Sam!

  3. I saw sots at a theatre around 1975.
    I agree that Song of the South should be released to dvd.
    It certainly whitewashes the plight of the american slave,
    poorly acted at times
    and is corny and condescending, at it’s worst.
    It is, however, some of the most believable toon – human
    on screen interaction in movie history, at least for the disney
    studio.
    The Uncle Remus characters are beautifully animated, and
    James Baskett was wonderful. His rendition of zip a dee doo da
    is right up there with Clif Edward’s When You Wish Upon A Star
    in a short list of all time greatest disney songs!
    It’s time to free the Song of the South.

  4. I can’t wait to read Floyd’s book! He is a really great guy. Such a pleasure to meet him at the MiceAge 10th Anniversary spectacular in February!

  5. Do these books “strike a cord?” Why, zip a dee doo dah and throw me in the Briar Patch! My heartstrings are thrummin… The story of how Brer Rabbit got himself tossed in the Briar Patch taught me how bad guys often don’t think beyond their bullying, even though I’d never seen a rabbit in a briar patch. Now that I’ve got plenty of invasive Himalayan Blackberry patches around town harboring bunnies, keeping them safe from that other invasive species, the domestic pussycat, I get it! I’ll encourage my local library to invest wisely in both books.

    And Disney’s Menstruation? I clearly remember that day in fifth grade when the boys were sent outside and we girls watched that film. It made no sense whatsoever to me. We didn’t have television ads for feminine hygiene products on TV back in the 60′s and the subject was absolutely taboo. Looking forward to watching it again but first — a bluebird on the shoulder!

    • I remember that day also in the 5th grade when we were asked to go outside and all the girls went to the cafeteria to see the Disney ? Film which no one would tell us boys about. My girlfriend did recieve a Disney 8mm copy of Song of The South for her birthday back then, and still has it today. During Design on Splash Mountain the Tar Baby was not to be seen or spoken of. That was honey being cooked in the Brer Bear pot and not tar being heated was reasoned. Compaired to 1934′s Judge Priest, the tamer Song of the South should be released by Disney once more in a newer format. On Amazon a VHS copy got 594 reviews. 512 were 4.5 of 5 and 43 gave it a 4 of 5. That says a lot. I would place it next to my Robert Louis Stevenson 1950 Treasure Island, and Kidnapped. Thank you again Sam.

      • Loved Peter O’Toole in the 1960 Kidnapped!

  6. Had to order Floyd Norman’s book right away…of course using the Amazon link on this page. Thanks!