54 Disney Films- The How and Where Behind the Project

A few people have asked me some questions about my project and I thought I would take a second to answer them.


Disney is divided into segments.  There are segments for Pixar, Studio Ghibli, Tim Burton animation (Frankenweenie, Nightmare Before Christmas), stop motion animation (Christmas Carol and Mars Meets Mom), and then there is the Disney Toons Dept.  This last segment makes films many times associated with their television franchises such as The Ducktales Movie, or the Tinker Bell movies.

When we say something is ‘Disney cannon’ what we mean is it is from the Walt Disney Animation Studio and is deemed by them as an ‘animated classic’.  That can be confusing because we hear classic we think old but it is actually just movies produced by Walt Disney Studios that they put on the list of animated classics.  Why for instance are 2 of the Winnie the Pooh movies included but others like The Tigger Movie are not? I don’t know?  I guess it just comes to where the movie is made in the company and the resources which go into it.

My friend over at The Lawn Gnome explains it better than I could.


Perhaps I should add this to all of my reviews so you know how to watch it if the film sounds interesting to you.  Basically there are a number of ways.

1. My Blu-ray collection-  I don’t have that many Disney Blu-rays because honestly they aren’t that great.  Unless you especially want to see it in HD and have a TV that will make a big difference there is no need to upgrade a film from a DVD to a Blu-ray.  On most of them the special features and films are identical (and some feel the blu-rays are worse because they clean up images in pictures and take away some of the original earthiness. I’ve heard that about the blu-ray for Sword in the Stone).  That said, if you don’t have them on DVD and you find a good price go for it!  Disney is not keeping as many movies ‘in the vault’ like they used to (probably because of digital copies getting out to the public anyway) so you can find good deals if you are on the hunt for them.

disney blu-rays2. Disney DVDs Collection- Like I said the DVD sets are basically identical minus the HD as the blu-ray so over the years I collected a bunch of those.  I have more than pictured but I went through a misguided phase where I threw cases away to save space.  Stupid!!

disney dvds3. Stream It- There are lots of methods for streaming Disney movies which you can even get in HDX now.  (Some claim there is a huge difference between digital stream and blu-ray but I haven’t noticed it with Disney at least. There is a website called CanIStreamIt.it   where you can look up any movie and see if it is available for free stream, rent or own.  Before I started my project I went through all 54 and checked them on CanIStreamIt.it and knew which one’s I would need to acquire from different sources.

can I stream it

Three of the biggest sites are vudu, amazon and netflix.

Vudu you purchase and rent on an individual basis but they have some great deals including daily rental discounts and an entire Disney Collections storefront.  Most rentals cost between $2.99 and $4.99 depending on how picky you are about HD.  My blu-ray players have apps for vudu which makes it easy.  I can even watch vudu and netflix on my phone if I want.   There is no monthly cost for vudu it is per purchase.

Vudu also gives you the rotten tomatoes score and review blips for any movie you look at which is nice, and you can share your experience on social media easily.

vuduAmazon is similar to vudu but they have a large library of free viewing films for prime members (a yearly fee that covers your 2 day shipping and other usage of the site).  It is an app on my downstairs blu-ray but not upstairs and it is not available for viewing on your phone (but really Disney deserves bigger than a 4 inch screen!).  You can also load your digital hd copies that come with most blu-rays onto either amazon or vudu (and you can watch them at disneymovierewards.com).

Amazon gives you reviews from fans if that helps you decide to view a movie or not.

amazonNetflix is the other major way to watch Disney films.  Their streaming services are charged by the month and I think it is $7.99 in the US.  They sometimes rotate a movie out so if you love it probably best to procure it some other way as it is not like vudu where once you buy it it’s in your library for good.   But if you are not a rewatcher of movies than it is a great, affordable solutions.  Right now they have The Rescuers movies, Pocahontas, Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Sword in the Stone and other Disney films on Netflix.

netflixIf you were curious I do not have a fancy TV.  It is a plasma Philips I bought on craigslist in 2009 but it seems to do the job just fine.

plasma tvIf you are a Comcast subscriber they have a ‘Disney Family Movie Channel’ that is a premium on demand channel and those films rotate as well.  They do a good job getting odd or unusual films in there and I watched Saludos Amigos and Three Cabelleros on the channel.  It is $5.95 a month where I live.

family movie channel

4. VHS it!-  I know it’s old school but I have a TV/VCR combo (2 actually in different rooms) and for harder titles to find like Aladdin VHS can still be a good method.  Again I’m not too picky about the HD angle.  I actually watched Snow White, Pinocchio and Melody Time on VHS for this project and I was able to get them for .50 each.  Not half bad.




Well, first of all I have been a blogger for 7 years and a youtuber for about 2.  I love social media and interacting with people from all over the world, especially about something I love like Disney.  I have done movie reviews on both my old site and my channel (in fact, I just posted reviews on my channel of Boyhood and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes).

http://smilingldsgirl.com My Regular Blog

To read a written review I did on a movie I did not care for this summer called Austenland-


My Channel


My review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes-

I have loved criticism my whole life.  I was a huge Siskel and Ebert fan growing up and find it fascinating how individuals can see art and have such differing responses . My parents raised me to ask questions and not just be an absorber of art.  So it is the perspective I am coming from.  To me noshing over a movie with friends, even online friends, is part of the fun of going to a movie.

For a long time I have wanted to watch all of the Disney cannon because there were films I had heard about like The Black Cauldron but never seen.  I was curious but never could find the time . Then in July my MCL tore and I found myself with limited mobility.

knee2It was also screwing up my already problematic sleeping schedule (you have probably noticed a lot of 2-4am posts.  I’m a terrible insomniac). I figured I needed something to feel productive because I was literally sitting around all evening once work was finished.  So, I decided to dive in and finally watch the Disney cannon.  At first I was confused and thought it was 57 movies because the list I had included The Wild, Christmas Carol and Mars Needs Moms.  Then I figured it out and changed it over to 54.

One of the nice things about Disney is most of the movies aren’t very long.  Usually around 75 minutes so really it is just a few minutes longer than a tv show like Project Runway or Survivor . Most of my shows are in between seasons so that worked out perfectly too.  It was easy for me to watch a 75 minute film and blog about it daily or every other day depending on my schedule.  These next 26 are going to be harder because most of them are longer but once I start a project I never stop so we will get all 54 for the Big Hero 6 premiere in November!

As far as my knee I am probably 80% healed but still some pain and not able to do a lot of standing or walking.  Hopefully I can get back to swimming soon.


For me it is a process writing a review.  I do as much research as I can before watching the movie, even for a movie I know pretty well.  The wikipedia on Disney films is actually pretty good, Disney wiki, other bloggers, articles, reviews etc are also helpful.  If I have one I will watch behind the scenes and audio commentaries.

I also take notes both of my research, the plot and my responses.

disney notesSome of the package films I will have a tab for each of the segments so I can keep them straight.  With Little Mermaid I had 2 tabs because there was so much in the audio commentary I wanted to keep that separate.   I couldn’t capture all my notes on a screen capture.  They are pretty in depth.   As a grad student I learned how to take detailed notes quickly and I find I enjoy the films better when taking notes (super nerd I know).

One thing that helps  is I am a very fast typist and writing the prose of the review isn’t difficult for me.  In fact, as much as I enjoy youtube I find editing a video to be more challenging.  Plus, once you’ve uploaded it is harder to make corrections like I can with my blog entries.  Youtube is also more restrictive on copyright rules than blogging and if I get strikes against my channel even though it is fair use it cold be a big pain.

In June I also ended 10 years of accounting and was hired to work as a digital marketing specialist so anything I learn on any social media isn’t just for fun but helps me with my career as well.


It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve tried my best to be open minded to every movie, even one’s I previously did not care for.  I also have tried to be positive and not trash any films.  This is Disney and they all have some good traits.  I haven’t given an F to any film because nothing has deserved an F.  An F would be for a total failure like The Smurfs or The Lorax (2 least favorite animated movies).  I know when I read a review I like to see the reasoning behind the critique and even if I disagree I can respect it.  That’s what I’ve tried to do in the blog.

I hate internet reviewers who give blanket statements like ‘I hate this movie’ or ‘it sucks’ or ‘it is so boring’.  That’s a starting point but tell me whey.  Even if your ‘it sucks’ reviews are meant for humor,in the jokes tell me why you don’t care for the film.  Did the characters not work for you?  Did the plot meander?  Did you find the animation unpleasant?  I try to comment on all of those factors whether it is positive or negative in my reviews because those are the types of reviews I find fascinating.  People have dedicated years of their lives to these projects and we owe them a thoughtful response.

A while back I had posted that I didn’t really get the movie The Graduate.  The performances were good but I didn’t like the ending, and I explained why.  A friend told me why it made sense given the time and characters and it opened my eyes to the scene.  While I don’t think The Graduate is a masterpiece, I like it much better after that conversation, so I am always open to others insight and analysis.

In a way it is funny because my parents are not movie people at all.  My Dad is lucky if he see’s one movie a year but all of his kids love them.  Other than the Simpsons, nothing got us talking as siblings more than movies.

I believe movies are the great storytelling device of our era and if you miss out on going to the movies you miss out on understanding yourself, others and the age we live in.

So that is the 411 on the blog and how you can watch all of these great movies.  Thanks for reading and making it such a fun experience!



Movie 18: Sword in the Stone

posterLet me start out by saying- I know this movie has lots of die hard fans.  That is amazing but I am not in that group.  I was sincerely hoping to come away with a different impression this time out as I hadn’t seen since I was little.  Unfortunately, I still saw the same problems.  But hopefully I can explain my problems with the film in a thoughtful way that even fans can acknowledge my reaction as plausible. Either way, I have to be honest on this blog both with things I like and dislike or there is no point to doing it at all.  This is not a fact guide on Disney.  It is reviews.

A Change in Demographics-

I couldn’t find as much good behind the scenes information on this movie (kind of like Peter Pan in that regard).  They used the xerox process in 101 Dalmatians that give the film a sketchbook feel which worked in 101 but bothers me more in this type of fanciful story.   101 is almost all about animals (and black and white animals to boot) where Sword in the Stone is people so the sketchy style feels dirty and off-putting.

sir pelinore

It was a pretty cheap film to make with the new advances and it made a lot of money at the box office.  It is perhaps these results when compared with Sleeping Beauty’s disappointment that  turned Disney off of girl-centric films to marketing to boys.

This is just my observations.  I could be wrong but when we look at the Disney films from the 60-80s they are almost all led by boys, not girls.  There are a few ensemble types like The Aristocats and The Rescuers but the male characters in those movies get most of the juicy dialogue and songs.   Like I said there are a few exceptions like Clucky in Robin Hood but not many.

Perhaps this doesn’t matter but at the very least it explains why most of these pictures didn’t do much for me as a child.  They didn’t have any characters I could relate to or fantasize about their stories.


Sword in the Stone was released in 1963 and it is based on the novel of the same name by TH White and is the last feature to be released in Walt Disney’s lifetime.

Like I said above, they used the xerox method which helped everything get finished quickly but is not my favorite technique artistically.  The thick black lines of the xerox make everything look dark and a little sloppy.  See how thick the outlines of the characters are in this shot of Archimedes? That is from the xerox.


As a point of contrast, here is the owl in Bambi.  You can hardly see the outlines and it looks so much more natural, layered,  and smooth.  Both owls even have the same coloring but I like the Bambi version much better.


They also had an unexpected challenge with the boy who played Arthur’s voice changing mid-process, so there are actually 3  voices to play the boy- sometimes with a single scene there are different voices and it is very distracting!  (I wish I could find a good clip for you of it. Not a ton of clips of this movie for some reason on youtube).

It is also interesting that none of the characters really have a British accent given it is about King Arthur and set in England…

Arthur is also kind of a bland hero.  He is a little like Aladdin in that way but at least Aladdin shows some spunk in the beginning, sings us a song.  He’s not totally influenced by other people. Plus, the supporting character in Aladdin is way more interesting and funnier than Merlin.

By the end I haven’t sensed anything so unique and special about Arthur to allow him to pull the sword out of the stone.  It kind of seems like he got lucky

Most of the movie is Arthur being taught things by Merlin but at the end of one lesson he says ‘that was fun’.  Not the sense of someone changing their life and preparing to be King.  Nevertheless, the movie feels it has shown enough character growth and we are on to the next lesson.  . Honestly Archimedes the owl shows more growth and personality than Arthur.

It’s strange that Merlin is treated like the old coot but he, not Arthur, is the one that defeats Madame Mim in the end.  Arthur is more of a spectator for the duel.


The movie received mixed reviews from critics but it has a loyal fan base that like it’s style and direction.

Sword in the Stone also features our first Disney introduction to the Sherman Brothers who would later write songs for Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks.  They are great writers but aside from a nice opening number I do not think this is their best work.  Most of the songs aren’t really songs but someone giving directions with melody coming in and out with long pauses..

But part of my dislike for this movie I admit is purely subjective.  To me it is unpleasant to look at.  Nearly every scene looks like it has been mod-podged with a blue coating.  It all looks very gray and blue and the sketchy style which worked in 101 looks dirty to me here.

Some of these were supposed to be at night or in the water which explains the blue/gray color palate but not all of them.  To me it is just unpleasant to look at and for a girl who loves Disney for it’s art that’s a big problem.

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Also a lot of the characters are drawn in a distasteful way.  I know the wolf and Madame Mim are villains but Disney has done lots of villains that looked sleek and stylish, even the hyenas in Lion King were more pleasant to look at than these two. They should have done the wolf from Peter and the wolf.  Now that was a menacing creature requiring great bravery to beat.

From Peter and the Wolf.
From Peter and the Wolf.

I don’t know I just didn’t like the designs and the characters weren’t captivating enough to make that feeling go away.  I’m not crazy about some of the drawings in the Jungle Book but the personalities are so fun and songs so good I let it pass.

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Let’s talk about the story.   It’s pretty simple.  The best part of the movie is the explanation of the legend of the sword.  It is a good song, with some color (still lots of blue) but I like it.

Arthur is an orphan, called Wart, who is trying to help his foster brother Kay with his arrows when he falls into Merlin, the wizards,  house.   Merlin senses something in the boy and asks to be his tutor and they head back to the castle.  Arthur’s foster father Sir Ector is not thrilled with the idea but agrees to let Merlin stay in the a barely standing tower of the castle.

Merlin into the tower.
Merlin into the tower.

Sir Pellinore, arrives and tells Sir Ector, Arthur and Kay there will be a tournament with the winner becoming King.  Ector decides to prepare the strong Kay and for Arthur to learn to be his squire.

Arthur is actually ok with this arrangement and says to Merlin at one point ‘what is wrong with being a squire’.  Merlin will have none of it and insists the boy get an education.  He says things like ‘a boy has got to have an education’.  Then we see them learning letters and numbers. Arthur tries to teach him about the future, where Archimedes teaches the past.


The problem with these scenes is they come off as very trite.  Why not instead of simply telling us that education is good show us?  Show us why the alphabet is important.  Take Arthur on a journey where he needs to read, or use science or history.  The three journeys or lessons he goes on are mostly about being brave and using your imagination.  You don’t need to be able to read and write to do that.

Obviously I think education is good but too often this movie felt like those ‘CBS Cares’ blips after a show where some star will tell you how great an education is or how bad bullying is and that’s fine for a blip but for a movie, especially an animated movie it is unsatisfying.  Don’t just tell me, show me.  For example, Pongo and Perdy didn’t just talk about being brave and learn lessons, they faced situations requiring bravery.  We didn’t need them to give us a lesson because their actions gave us a lesson.  To me the transformation parts of the lessons were contrived and not filled with any real peril or tension, so the lessons felt hallow.

Even in the final scenes of the duel and getting the sword nothing he has learned in the lessons really helps Arthur become king.  Why could he lift that sword out?  Seems like it must have been destiny.  Don’t need education to do that.

Anyway, I digress.  Merlin decides to teach Arthur three lessons.  The first lesson he gets turned into a fish.

merlin fishBut as someone new to the fish world Arthur begins to sink.  Merlin tells him he must rely on his instincts and use his imagination.  Again, doesn’t a lesson on relying on your instincts kind of negate the need for a traditional education?  Anyone can respond to instincts.

So Arthur and Merlin face a pike but the owl Archimedes saves the day.  (again how has Arthur proven he is the chosen one to be King?  Archimedes is more courageous in this scene).

The second lesson is a long section of the movie but before that Arthur must finish washing the dishes in order to go out with Merlin . Naturally that difficulty gets fixed with magic.  Arthur asks ‘won’t I get in trouble for leaving’ and Merlin says “who cares as long as the work gets done”.  I’m not sure if that is the greatest lesson to be teaching a future King.  How a task gets done, and managing how people feel about their work is often the most important part of a good leader.

Nevertheless, it is a cute song and probably my favorite part of the movie.

Another strange choice is they leave the spell running.  Why not either speed the spell up or wait a few minutes and then go.  There was not a doubt in my mind that kitchen with the spell would come back to haunt them (and they seem to be gone for hours and yet the spell has done exactly the same amount of work.  I looked at it pretty carefully and the shots look exactly the same down to the dirty skillet.

So, on to the next lesson Arthur learns a little bit about gravity and then he and Arthur are turned into squirrels so they can learn about love.  Again, not sure what this has to do with being a King but I suppose he will have a queen so it is fine.

Merlin can come across as kind of trite and preachy.  At one point while a squirrel he says ‘just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it is wrong’.   They kind of explore that with the squirrel but with a story about King Arthur there is so much more they could have done with it, such potential.

A girl squirrel actually falls in love with Arthur and saves his life from the wolf.  Then he turns back into a human and honestly I felt bad for the squirrel.  That’s a very confusing lesson for kids.  They seem to be saying ‘love, it tears your heart out but ain’t it great anyway’. I get teaching kids that life isn’t fair and love can hurt but usually there is some resolution or happiness shown later.  This is just tragic and it adds to the grim, gray feel of the picture.

squirrel2The final transformation is into a bird so Arthur can fly because the world is round and he needs to experience it.  This lesson seems totally a vehicle for Arthur to end up in Madame Mim’s house.


Arthur tells her he is working with Merlin and that he is the greatest wizard.  Very offended she turns herself into a strange version of a ‘beautiful woman’. I’m sorry but look at her chest.  Her breasts are going in two different directions. and the waist is so tiny it looks bizarre.

pretty mim

The thing is if you really believed you were ugly and had the power to change yourself into something you think is beautiful, why wouldn’t you want to stay beautiful? Is she a villain just because she likes being ugly? It’s honestly hard to say because she introduced to the story so late we don’t really get to know why she is bad.

Arthur also tells Madame Mim, ‘Merlin’s magic is useful, for something good’.  Really? What in this movie has shown us that?  So far  he has turned people into fish, squirrels and birds to what avail?  To teach Arthur I guess but not very well.  The most substantial help he has given others is  cleaning the dishes.

So Merlin and Madame Mim duel in a fun scene with both turning into different creatures to fight. And aside from being ugly and thinking she’s a better wizard than Merlin have we really seen any proof that Madame Mim is a bad person?  Again one of those things in this movie that is explained not shown.

This clip has different music but it is the best I could find of the duel.  It is a fun scene with creative animation but I wish it gave more for Arthur to do since it is supposed to be his story.  Still, I don’t mind it.

After the duel Arthur is asked to go be a squire for Kay at the tournament.  Merlin says he is being a sell-out settling for such a lowly post but Arthur says there’s nothing wrong with it and I agree with him.  Why could he not still take lessons as a squire?  It is very strange.

So Arthur and Kay go to the tournament but he forgets Kay’s sword and tries to retrieve it but he can’t.  Seeing the sword in the stone he pulls it out.  Quickly people realize what he has done but they ask to see it done one more time.  Kay and others try to pull the sword out to no avail.  Only Arthur can, but again it feels more like he is lucky then he has earned it.

At least we finally get some light and color in this scene.


I kind of gave my review as I described the picture.  This is not my favorite Disney film.  It’s not terrible and young boys might like Arthur and Merlin but it does not work for me.  The color palate is so blue and gray and unpleasant to look at.  The lead characters are bland.  The songs are so-so and the messages in the picture feel like an after school special instead of part of the story.  The lessons seem muddled and not particularly helpful in becoming a King leaving me frustrated.

Madame Mim is all right but underused.  It is played like a trifling rivalry instead of a true villain.  Think about the confrontation between Ursula and Triton.  That was a rivalry which glowed with animosity and passion.  This seems like more of a lark.

Worst of all they didn’t give me any reason to understand why Arthur pulled out the sword.  He didn’t save them from the pike.  He broke the squirrel’s heart and he didn’t defeat Madame Mim.  He’s fine with being squire so I guess that makes him humble but that’s about it.  Also the 3 voices for Arthur is very distracting.

I’m sure fans will be frustrated by my response but I’ve got to be honest with how I feel in order for this blog to have any validity.

Overall Grade= C-

Now on to Jungle Book!