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Monthly Archives: June 2012

June 30

June 30, 1993 – Disney Buys Miramax Films

On June 30, 1993, Disney finalized the deal to buy Miramax Films, which not only had Disney financing future Miramax productions, but also gave Disney access to the more than 200 films in the Miramax library. Miramax founders Harvey and Bob Weinstein sold the studio for $60 million, although they continued to work with Miramax, with Disney having the final say on what they could release. In 2005, the Weinsteins and Disney did not renew their contractual relationship. The main point of their dispute was Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11; Disney had not wanted to release it, but many communication errors kept the film under Miramax until the Weinsteins moved it to their own distribution group to release it.

After Disney’s purchase, many successful films were released, including The Piano, The Crow, Little Buddha, Pulp Fiction, Trainspotting, Sling Blade, and The English Patient. In 2009, Disney cut Miramax’s staff and film output about 70 percent, and by January 29, 2010, the studio’s offices were closed, and everything left was moved to Disney’s headquarters in Burbank. In July of that year, the arrangements to sell Miramax began. Ron Tutor and his investment group bought the studio in December 2010 for $660 million.

June 29

June 29, 1935 – The Silly Symphony Who Killed Cock Robin? is Released to Theaters

“Who killed Cock Robin? Who got him with a shot and put him on the spot? Who killed Cock Robin and vanished like a phantom in the night?”

On June 29, 1935, the Silly Symphony short film Who Killed Cock Robin? was released to theaters. The short was a modern take on the popular nursery rhyme, which was believed to be a satirical comment on the fall of Sir Robert Walpole, who was falsely accused of corruption and imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was eventually released and became the first Prime Minister of Great Britain, but was met once again with opposition and was forced to resign. The short was directed by David Hand, and stars Billy Bletcher as the voice of the judge, and Martha Wentworth as the voice of Jenny Wren. The short is also notable for the many celebrity caricatures; Jenny Wren is a caricature of popular actress Mae West.

The short opens with Cock Robin whistling and playing a guitar outside the home of Miss Jenny Wren. Jenny steps out onto her balcony to listen to the music, and Cock Robin begins to croon. A shadow of a bird with a bow and arrow is seen against the trees, firing an arrow straight into Cock Robin’s chest. He swoons a bit, then plummets to the ground, with everyone looking. Everyone comes out, alarmed at what just happened, and the police are called in to investigate. The medics take Cock Robin away on a stretcher.

The Crow appears as the first witness, but keeps insisting that he doesn’t know anything

The court case begins, with the judge asking who killed Cock Robin. A scared crow is sitting in the witness box, and when asked, answers that he doesn’t know who killed him. When shown Cock Robin’s body, the crow turns deathly white and tries to flee. He reiterates that he knows nothing about the case, and is hauled off to jail as they pull out the next witness, Legs Sparrow. Legs won’t answer the questions, so the next witness, the Cuckoo Bird, is called. The Cuckoo Bird isn’t a reliable witness, however, so they decide to move on, with everyone rather frustrated that nobody knows.

Jenny Wren steps forward as the next witness, entrancing the entire court. She tells the judge that she wants to see justice done, as somebody took out her Robin. When she suggests that somebody ought to be hanged for the crime, the judge, very taken with Miss Wren, demands that all three suspects be hanged for the crime. Out of nowhere, another arrow flies in, taking the judge’s hat and nailing it against a tree. The judge looks up to see the real culprit, Cupid. Cupid informs them all that he shot Cock Robin, but Robin isn’t dead, he’s just fallen for Jenny and landed on his head. Jenny asks Robin to kiss her, and he wakes up, giving her a smooch.

June 28

June 28, 1988 – Disney’s Grand Floridian Beach Resort Opens at Walt Disney World

Image credit: Official Walt Disney World Website

 “This magnificent hotel sits along the white-sand shores of Seven Seas Lagoon…Enjoy an opulent experience that begins inside the Grand Lobby, which stands over five stories high, sparkling with the light from two brilliant chandeliers.”

On June 28, 1988, the Grand Floridian Beach Resort (renamed Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in 1997) opened at Walt Disney World. The resort is owned and operated by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and is a Victorian-themed luxury hotel and spa located in the Magic Kingdom area. The hotel is categorized as a deluxe resort, the highest of the four designations of lodgings at the Walt Disney World Resort, and is considered Disney’s flagship hotel. It was renovated in 2007, with all the guestrooms redecorated and provided with updated technology, including flat-panel televisions.

The hotel contains a highly renowned restaurant called Victoria & Albert’s, a 13-year recipient of the prestigious AAA Five Diamond Award, as well as Narcoossee’s, a restaurant that gives guests views of the Magic Kingdom fireworks show, Wishes. Also included at the resort is Citricos, an American restaurant with Mediterranean flair; 1900 Park Fare, which gives guests a chance to dine with Mary Poppins and Cinderella; the Grand Floridian Café, featuring traditional American fare; and the Gasparilla Grill and Games, a 24-hour snack bar with an arcade.

June 27

June 27, 1952 – The Goofy Short Film Teachers are People is Released to Theaters

“The person upon whose capable shoulders rests the responsibility for their education is that unsung hero, the teacher.”

On June 27, 1952, the Goofy short film Teachers are People was released to theaters. It was directed by Jack Kinney, with story by Dick Kinney and Brice Mack. The short was narrated by Alan Reed, who would go on to fame as the voice of Fred Flintstone. When this short was released, the idea that a school would be bombed or that dangerous weapons would be brought in a school was an outlandish one; needless to say, attitudes have changed a great deal since then.

The short opens with the narrator explaining how school has become a vital part of every child’s life. We then see a mother dragging her reluctant son George to school, dressed in a smart suit and sailor cap, holding an apple for his teacher. When he reaches his clubhouse in the front yard, he quickly changes and emerges in somewhat “cooler” attire. We then see the other children walking to school, “whetting their appetites for knowledge” (splashing through rain puddles) and “forming friendships for the future” (a boy is seen carrying all of a pretty girl’s schoolbooks).

Goofy, as the brave educator, prepares himself as he enters a classroom full of chaos

As the audience’s attention turns to the school, the doors open to reveal the educator, played by Goofy. He steps forward as the crossing guard is letting the kids cross the road, but unfortunately Goofy gets stuck in the middle of the road as the cars speed past. The audience then sees his classroom: the children have gone wild, throwing books and ink, making a complete mess of the room. Before Goofy enters, he dons an umpire’s outfit, ready to tackle anything that comes his way. He calms everyone down, and the students begin to sing a good morning song.

As Goofy erases a demeaning doodle from the board, a little mirror pops out of his jacket, allowing him to see George attempting to hit the teacher with his slingshot. Goofy ducks just in time, and demands that George put all of his toys and pranks into the drawer in his desk. George reluctantly puts in his slingshot, and various weapons, including fireworks, a pocketknife, and a grenade. The grenade shocks Goofy, and he carefully places it in a nearby bucket of water. As Goofy calls roll, we see the students continuing to play pranks on each other. When he calls for George, he sees George sneaking out the window to go fishing, and quickly pulls him back inside.

An oblivious Goofy is unaware that his student George is causing mischief behind his back

Goofy then calls for homework, and the students begin to place apples on the teacher’s desk. One apple seems to be missing, and when Goofy wonders who is absent, he looks over to see George at his place in the corner, eating his apple. George then begins to run the chalk down the chalkboard, making an annoying squeaking sound. Goofy cuts him off before the geography lesson, and pulls down the map. While he tries to give the geography lesson, the students have their books propped up, but are playing with various toys behind them. George then cuts a hole in the map, making faces at his fellow students.

When the bell sounds for lunch, the student stampede outside, making a mess of the playground. Goofy hears a group of his students whispering, and when he goes over to hear their conversation, he blushes at the obscene nature of the joke. The students return from lunch as if they were forcibly marched, and Goofy has to drag George inside. When the spelling lesson begins, Goofy asks George to spell the word “cat.” George attempts to cheat off his neighbor’s paper, but when the student pulls it away, George pulls a squirt gun on him. The student misspelled the word on purpose, so George ends up squirting the student in the face.

Poor Goofy is reaching the end of his rope as George squeaks the chalk during his punishment

George continues to cause mischief in the classroom, and finally sets the clock ahead an hour to 3 o’clock, when the bell rings and the students take off like a shot. Goofy is left to clean up the students’ mess, and have a parent-teacher conference. In this conference, the parent grabs Goofy by his collar and demands to know “What’s the matter with my kid’s grammar?” before punching Goofy on the head. As the short draws to a close, the school building suddenly explodes, and we see “I will not bomb the school again” written several times on the chalkboard by George, still using the squeaking chalk.

June 26

June 26, 1959 – The Donald Duck Featurette Donald in Mathmagic Land is Released to Theaters.

“By golly! You do find mathematics in the darndest places!”

On June 26, 1959, the featurette Donald in Mathmagic Land was released to theaters. This Academy Award-nominated short would go on to become one of the most popular educational films ever released by Disney. It was also shown on the first program of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, introduced by Professor Ludwig von Drake, who played the True Spirit of Adventure in the featurette. The story was written by Milt Banta, Bill Berg, and Dr. Heinz Haber, and starred Clarence Nash as the voice of Donald.

Donald, dressed in a hunter’s outfit, enters a dark room with his gun and looks around, remarking on how strange this all seems to be. He follows a trail of numbers, and finds the creature making the markings is a walking pencil, who challenges Donald to a game of tic-tac-toe, which Donald loses. He continues to walk, surprised by the square roots he runs into. He calls out hello to anyone who will hear him, and the voice of the narrator greets him. The narrator informs Donald that he is in Mathmagic Land, the land of great adventure, and that he, the narrator, is the True Spirit of Adventure. The spirit tells Donald he will take him on a journey through the wonderland of mathematics.

Donald having a jam session with the Pythagoreans, while learning that without math, there would be no music

As Donald storms away, saying math is for eggheads, the spirit informs Donald that without “eggheads,” there would be no music. He takes Donald back in time to Ancient Greece to meet Pythagoras, the father of mathematics and music. Donald is still confused, so the spirit shows Donald how music is full of mathematics. The first example shown is a harp, demonstrating how an octave is created. Donald and the spirit then sneak in on a meeting of the Pythagoreans, who are playing music in their meeting. Donald interrupts them, saying they need to play something with a beat. The Pythagoreans, the spirit explains, helped create the music we know and love today. As the spirits of the Pythagoreans disappear, Donald is left with a surprise – he is made a member of the Pythagoreans.

The segment then moves to another Pythagorean discovery: the pentagram, filled with mathemagic. The first concept explained is the golden section, then we move to the golden rectangle, which the pentagram creates many times over. The Greeks believed the golden rectangle to be a natural law of beauty. The spirit then shows how the pentagon, another Pythagorean shape, is found in nature, before moving on to other shapes found in nature.

Donald plays the part of Alice when being taught the mathematical principles of the game of chess

Donald, who is enjoying his adventure so far, is delighted to hear that one can find mathematics in games, as well. The spirit begins with the game of chess, explaining it with the concept of Alice in Wonderland, with Donald playing the part of Alice. After a slight adventure with the chess pieces, Donald is able to watch a game in safety, but is bored by it. The spirit then begins to list sports with a geometric field, like baseball and football. The game that gets Donald really excited, however, is billiards. The spirit then shows an expert playing three-cushion billiards, and the mathematics used to get the perfect shot.

The spirit then tries to get Donald to play a game with his mind, only to find that Donald’s mind was completely cluttered with antiquated ideas, bungling, false concepts, and superstitions. He cleans out Donald’s mind, then has Donald think of a perfect circle, and puts a triangle in it. When asked what he sees, Donald sees a sphere. The spirit then has Donald take one thing and see how many items he can come up with using those shapes. Donald is then taken to a hall filled with doors, with most of them open. Some of the doors Donald discovers are locked, to which the spirit replies that they are the doors of the future, with the key being mathematics. The short then ends with the Galileo quote: “Mathematics is the alphabet with which God has written the universe.”

June 25

June 25, 1928 – The Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Short The Fox Chase is Released to Theaters

On June 28, 1928, the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short The Fox Chase was released to theaters. It was the 22nd Oswald short film, and was one of the last Oswald shorts produced by Disney. It was produced at the same time that Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks were working in secret on the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, Plane Crazy. The Oswald short would later be remade as The Fox Hunt in 1931.

It’s the day of the big fox chase, and Oswald seems to be having trouble controlling his horse. The fox in question is standing in front of the dogs, taunting them as they wait behind the starting line. The horn sounds, and everyone stands at attention, waiting for the signal. The gun fires, and everyone heads out.

Oswald’s horse has a good laugh at Oswald’s expense while the rabbit is unable to mount

Unfortunately for Oswald, his horse is unable to head out with everyone else, and bucks Oswald off, laughing at the rabbit’s misfortune. As Oswald tries to leap onto his steed, the horse blocks him, and Oswald once again finds himself on the ground. After several failed attempts, Oswald tries to be clever by tying the horse’s tail to a nearby ladder and using it to mount, but the horse foils him again, and Oswald is dragged across the field, still clutching the ladder.

While the fox is having a good time outsmarting the dogs chasing him, Oswald is still trying to mount his horse. The horse finally stops, and Oswald, his legs completely stretched out, is no longer in the mood for games. He finally mounts the temperamental horse and continues with the chase. The fox is still able to outsmart his pursuers, but ends up running right past Oswald, who turns around suddenly. As horse and rider tumble over a stump, Oswald has become the “horse,” with his horse riding him. With another strange turn of events, Oswald then ends up riding one of the dogs chasing the fox, and jumps up and down with joy that he’s almost caught the cunning critter.

The two dogs that surprise the fox by hiding in the tree are fooled once again, and watch with surprise as the fox laughs at them

Two other dogs spot the fox heading their way and hide in a nearby tree, jumping out as the fox runs by, and all three start fighting. The fox manages to sneak out and laughs at the two dogs’ folly. The fox hides in a log and manages to keep outsmarting the dogs. When Oswald comes along, he comes up with an idea to drive the fox out, only to discover that a skunk has been hiding in the log instead. When Oswald and the two dogs run away in fear, the skunk turns to the audience and reveals that he’s only wearing a costume, and is really the fox, who laughs, as he’s won the chase.

June 24

June 24, 1949 – The Pluto Short Film Bubble Bee is Released to Theaters

On June 24, 1949, the Pluto short film Bubble Bee was released to theaters. It was directed by Charles Nichols, with story by Milt Schaffer and Eric Gurney. The short features Spike the Bee, who usually tormented Donald Duck in various short films.

Pluto is playing with a ball in the park, when the ball lands in a patch of flowers. As Pluto leaps in after the ball, it bounces out and rolls down a path. Pluto looks around for his toy, and spies it on the top of a tall hedge. He leaps after it, only to find that he’s leapt on a bubble gum machine that looks like the design of his ball. Smelling the sweet scent of gum, Pluto decides he wants some. He looks around sneakily, then tries to shake some out of the machine.

Pluto sees Spike successfully rig the machine to retrieve a gumball

As he tries and fails with many methods to get the gum, Spike the Bee appears, buzzing around the machine, and Pluto backs away in trepidation. He watches as Spike easily rigs the machine to produce a gumball. As Spike flies away, he is weighed down by his heavy prize, and Pluto is able to follow him closely. Pluto watches as Spike throws the gumball in his beehive and flies away. With a devilish grin, Pluto tries to bat the gumball from the hive, only to knock the hive down. It breaks open, revealing about twenty pieces of gum hidden inside.

Pluto looks hungrily at his prize, and greedily laps up each piece and begins to chew them all at once. When he tries to open his mouth, the chewed gum keeps his mouth closed, and he is unable to swallow it. He continues to chew, and it rather surprised when a bubble comes out of his mouth. When he sneezes, bubbles to blow through his teeth; they all pop and cover his face with gum, but he is able to get the gum back in his mouth and keeps chewing. He then blows out a bubble, lets it fly in the air, and plays with it as a new toy.

Spike uses the gum that trapped him as a tool to trap Pluto, wrapping him up in strands of chewed gum

Meanwhile, Spike returns with another gumball, only to discover that his house is gone. He finds the ruins on the ground, as well as the footprints of the guilty party, and follows the tracks. He spies Pluto blowing bubbles, and flies after the dog in a rage, kicking him. As Pluto tries to bark, he ends up blowing another bubble, trapping Spike in the gum. Pluto lets the bubble go free, then pops it, watching in amusement as the bee is helpless in midair. The gum lands on Pluto’s nose, and Spike uses it as a tool to attack the dog, wrapping the dog’s legs in chewed gum. Spike continues chasing Pluto, and Pluto ends up accidentally swallowing the bug, who is trapped in another gum bubble. Exhausted from their chase, Spike finally gets his in the end, stinging Pluto and sending him yelping from the park.