Monday, September 22, 2008

Beloved, Not Loved...


I want to take this moment to talk about movies from Walt Disney's "Dark Period"...

You remember that time, don't you? It was the period between Walt Disney passing away and Michael Eisner being hired to save the company. From the late sixties to the early eighties was a period where the company went through an identity crisis. Without Walt at the helm it didn't know what it should become. Everything that was done in this period suffered from being under the long and mighty shadow of The Maestro himself. Every idea, every decision, every single movement was second guessed with the little thought in their heads:

"What would Walt think?"

With the passage of time it's become a little easier to judge the films that the Mouse made during this time period. While many of these were modest hits and others out and out bombs, none were what was made during Walt's reign... as time has passed, many of these films have developed cult-like fan bases. TRON could qualify as one of these(although I didn't include it here). It's a film which had a great deal of hype when it came out, but wound up being a major disappointment for Walt Disney Productions, which was trying to deal with a culture that many felt had passed Disney by... trying to live up to films like "Star Wars", "Close Encounters" and many others, the Suits tried some interesting concepts and some embarrassing ideas. Some succeeded, many failed...

What I include here is only a partial list of films from this time period that Disney made. A few are great, some were good and a few were guilty pleasures only a Fan/Geek like myself could enjoy.

But from me to you... enjoy:


Blackbeard's Ghost (1968)



The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969)


The Barefoot Executive (1971)


The Strongest Man in the World (1975)


The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975)


No Deposit, No Return (1976)


The Cat from Outer Space (1978)


The Black Hole (1979)


The Devil and Max Devlin (1981)


Dragonslayer (1981)


Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

13 comments:

BoardwalkJoe said...

Where is Watcher in the Woods? One of the few gems from this period

rllrcster said...

You forgot (?) The North Avenue Irregulars! :)

Chris said...

I always loved Blackbeard's Ghost. I don't know that there was another on your list that I really cared for though.

urban myth said...

Dragonslayer was friggin' great! The Black Hole was a good idea, badly written and poorly executed.

And I love those old Kurt Russell films. I used to roll all over the floor laughing at him pulling the wool over the eyes of the Dean.

Is this the first of a series? There are so many more films you could list.

Kevbot said...

What about the animated films?

SWati said...

And I don't think I've seen any of those films. :)
But to be fair I was born in 1987, and they're not exactly often on the telly here.

Anonymous said...

I love the Kurt Russell movies too. Was there a Disney film with Jon Voight where he played a Tarzan-like kid who ends up winning a decathalon or something like that?

Anonymous said...

Besides Blackbeard's Ghost, Dean Jones and Suzanne Pleshette also starred in the Shaggy D.A. several years later in 1976. I loved the 1977 Don Bluth film Pete's Dragon and enjoyed The Cat From Outer Space. I also loved Escape From Witch Mountain and its sequel Return from Witch Mountain.
Much of the stagnation of Disney falls on then Disney president Card Walker. While Walker was a good guy, he didn't want the company to grow to be too large. He even said he could grow Disney World but chose not to, so not to alienate the neighbors around him. However, after much pressure, he began exploring plans for Epcot in 1976 and broke ground on the park in 1978 and opened in 1982. Ron Miller became President/CEO in 1980 and oversaw the refurbishment of Fantasyland at Disneyland, and the launch of the Disney Channel as well as Touchstone. Eisner often gets the credit for these.
Jim Hill had a great article from a couple of years ago praising Miller http://jimhillmedia.com/blogs/wade_sampson/archive/2004/07/25/1236.aspx Unfortunately, he became the scapegoat. But, you'll notice only Miller was dismissed from the Disney board and not the other members.

Chip said...

Wow! You hit on my absolute favorite time period of films! and gave TRON a shoutout! This blog keeps getting better and better!

But yeah, no Watcher?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, "Watcher in the Woods", with Bette Davis, was surprisingly good.

ehaase2463 said...

You left the Love Bug out, which was my favorite childhood movie and was one of the biggest grossing movies of 1969.

Honor Hunter said...

I left out movies like "The Love Bug" because they were hits. The point of the post was to focus on films that weren't exactly big box office...

You did read the post, right? There were words before those pretty little pictures. ;P

Anonymous said...

Apple Dumpling Gang was a big hit for Disney - at least much bigger than their usual fare - hence a sequel was made. Most of the films you chose were at least modest hits (e.g. No Deposit No Return and all the Kurt Russell pictures).
Also don't forget Blackbeard's Ghost was essentially one of Walt's films. He approved the script and visited the set weeks before he died.