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Something a bit different today, which I think you will enjoy.

Without a doubt the Walt Disney company is stingy with releasing vintage footage from the theme parks. It takes them forever to decide to put anything out, the lawyers demand nonsensical changes and edits to the material, and then it is usually released as some type of special edition that is almost immediately discontinued or sold out. Because of this never-ending circus Park aficionados tend to get almost too excited when anything trickles out.

A few years ago Amazon began releasing a series of exclusive manufacture-on-demand DVDs from Universal Studios. These were movies that have cult followings, where they could expect a few sales if made to order, but not enough units to warrant a standard production run. Finally Ann Margaret fans were able to order Kitten with a Whip, Jack Webb collectors could get the 1954 movie version of Dragnet, and Disneyland fans were able to order 40 Pounds of Trouble, a 1962 Tony Curtis romantic comedy that has the distinction of being one of the few movies allowed to shoot in the Park by an outside studio.

When it comes to plot, 40 Pounds of Trouble isn't any kind of award winner. In this remake of the Shirley Temple vehicle Little Miss Marker, Tony Curtis portrays a Nevada casino manager with a heart of gold, who spends most of his days worrying that his slot machines aren't paying off enough, when not being chased out of California for not paying his back alimony. Complicating things are wannabe showroom headliner Suzanne Pleshette, who is related to casino owner Phil Silvers, and a little Disneyland obsessed girl (Claire Wilcox) who is left behind as a marker by her father in order to secure a gambling debt. When it becomes clear that the father will never return, Tony risks a trip to the happiest place on earth for the little girl before he has to break her the bad news.

What makes all this interesting for Disneyland fans is that they actually do spend about 15 minutes of the film there, even taking in a few rides. Now mind you, this isn't the Park as Disney might show it, instead thanks to plot requirements it's sort of turned into a Bizzaro Disneyland; A place where you board one dark ride and see several others, and monorail boarding platforms have impossible views. An alternate universe where cast members slouch as detectives chase alimony scofflaws right through operating attractions; as the poster says "Wait'll you see their hilarious adventures in... Disneyland."

All this doesn't detract from getting to see the park during 1961/62 in Eastman Color and Panavision, and the Amazon-exclusive made-to-order DVD-R sports an especially good 16x9 widescreen anamorphic transfer. It's a pleasure to behold, after only having seen the film all these past years in a cropped fullscreen VHS edition with washed out color.

The new transfer is so good in fact, that it allows us to put together a special column today featuring screen captures, presented full-sized below. (The ones with a black film frame border are pretty much untouched right off the disc, a few without the border are combined stills that highlight interesting details.)

Got a popcorn from the cart at the hub in hand? And an ice-cold cup of Welches grape juice from Fantasyland by your side? Let's go back to visit a 1962 Disneyland where so much is still the same, despite all that has changed over the years...

They used to offer a helicopter service from LAX to
Disneyland until one too many accidents shut it down.

Only in the movies would you get to linger overhead
and leisurely enjoy such great views.

The frames are so clear it's almost like you're looking at toy models.

I know there are a lot of monorail shots, but I love
the one below, very "Nighthawks at the Diner."

Thanks to the next two shots below...

...to this day people still think the monorail used to
stop on Main Street. Ah, the magic of the movies...

Mickey and Minnie before plastic surgery.

Much better than garish streetaculars.

Lots of flagpoles in the future, plus a phone booth
and a card table hat stand that the plot required.

An extended sequence shows off Storybookland
and you get a quick spin on the teacups.

Before Big Thunder arrived (above),
and the Skyway left (below).

More movie magic: Ride Peter Pan and see Snow White and Mr. Toad instead...

...four stills combined above.

You get a complete ride on the Matterhorn before it was enclosed...

...and Anaheim was built up.

(Two stills combined above.)

Younger readers probably don't recognize the masks below;
Google "Cuban Missile Crisis" and all shall be revealed.
By the way, nice product placement, eh?

Before Sparrow there was Sawyer.

Tony is spotted, and the chase through the Park begins.

In this combined still you can see a relaxing cast member (right),
and the start of construction for New Orleans Square (left).
Visit Yesterland at this link to see an overhead shot of this area
from that same year that you can zoom into for more detail.

Yes, you were able to fish at Tom Sawyer Island then.
No, you could never commandeer a motor boat back across.

Now the home of Big Thunder.

The Hub has been raised up in the years since.

Tony appears to be riding Walt Disney's gold VIP Autopia car.

What are CD-R & DVD-R media?

CD-Rs and DVD-Rs (the "R" stands for "recordable") look like the discs you're used to and offer the same audio and image quality. This recordable media is used to manufacture titles on demand, as fully authorized by the content provider.

Each disc comes fully packaged, with artwork, in a standard jewel case for audio and an Amaray case for video, although for reissued products the artwork may differ from the original. All products are manufactured from original source materials (e.g., for audio products, uncompressed CD-quality audio).

Amazon.com's standard return policy applies to these purchases.

Wasn't that fun?

So, is the disc worth purchasing? That's up to you. Personally I think this is a great addition to my library of vintage Disneyland footage. (An order box is to the left, should you agree.)

Apparently the Disney company is sitting on hundreds of hours of this same type of material not only documenting Disneyland but Walt Disney World too.

Unfortunately, when your home video department is focused on Johnny Depp, any efforts to restore, preserve and release this kind of material gets put on the back burner. Other than the few Walt Disney Treasures tin boxes featuring a couple of Disneyland specials, usually only snippets of this material ends up as bonus features for DVD and Blu-Ray releases.

Let's hope someone takes an interest in this material and develops a collectors program for it. And it shouldn't be just Disneyland, but also Walt Disney World archived film that should get the same kind of treatment. If the managers in Orlando would wake up to their history they might just find the same kind of fervent audience as Disneyland enjoys for all its historical based merchandise and collectors items.

Oh-kay - that should do it for today. We'll be back with a regular update soon. Remember your support is vital, your donations to PayPal help keep the bills paid. We're only here due to all of your kind efforts.

See you at Disneyland!

Al Lutz may be e-mailed at [email protected] - Please keep in mind he may not be able to respond to each note personally. FTC-Mandated Disclosure: As of December 2009, bloggers are required by the Federal Trade Commission to disclose payments and freebies. Al Lutz did not receive any payments, free items, or free services from any of the parties discussed in this article. He pays for his own admission to theme parks and their associated events, unless otherwise explicitly noted.

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