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Monthly Archives: January 2013

January 24

January 24, 1993 – Mickey’s Toontown Opens in Disneyland

Toontown

“It’s the place where some of your favorite Toons call home!”

On January 24, 1993, Mickey’s Toontown area opened at Disneyland. The area was inspired by the town of the same name from the hit 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The Disneyland version of the area was supposed to have Roger Rabbit as the star of the town, along with Judge Doom and Baby Herman; these plans were scaled back considerably after the dismal performance of Euro Disney. Instead, the Disneyland version took its cue from the Walt Disney World version of Toontown, which was named Mickey’s Birthdayland, and includes residences for Chip ’n’ Dale, Donald Duck, Goofy, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Roger Rabbit. The area itself is more suited to younger children, including gentler rides and residences as playhouses.

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January 23

January 23, 1900 – Animator and Disney Legend David Hand is Born

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“[Hand] was cavalier in transforming Walt’s dreams into animation.” – Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, from the book Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life

On January 23, 1900, David Dodd Hand was born in Plainfield, New Jersey. He attended the Chicago Art Institute, and joined the J.R. Bray Studio after graduation, later working for Max Fleischer in the “Out of the Inkwell” cartoons. After the release of Steamboat Willie in 1928, Hand applied for work at the Disney Studios, and was hired in 1930. Hand worked on several short films for his first three years with the studio before becoming an animation director, the third in the studio’s history after Burt Gillett and Wilfred Jackson. He was noticed by Disney himself quite early for his ability to recognize quality, and never sacrificed quality for the cost of the film. Hand is noted for working on 70 short film and three animated features. Hand’s last work at the Disney Studio was serving as the animation supervisor for Victory Through Air Power.

In 1944, Hand was invited to set up a new animation studio in England, winning a five-year contract with J. Arthur Rank. Hand became a well-known influence on British animation, and in 1951, he moved back to the United States to pursue a career in industrial filmmaking. In 1986, Hand passed away at the age of 86; in 1994, he was inducted as a Disney Legend.

January 22

January 22, 1964 – The Live-Action Feature Film The Misadventures of Merlin Jones is Released to Theaters

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“Merlin Jones? What’s he got that I haven’t got?” “I’m afraid I don’t have enough time to answer that.”

On January 22, 1964, the live-action feature film The Misadventures of Merlin Jones was released to theaters. The film was originally to be a two-part television special, but NBC executives liked it so much that Disney decided to turn it into a theatrical release instead, a fact that did not go unnoticed by film critics. The film became an audience hit, leading to a sequel in 1965. The screenplay was written by Tom and Helen August, which were pseudonyms for two blacklisted writers, Alfred Lewis and Helen Levitt. The lead song was written by Robert and Richard Sherman, with the opening sequence done by Bill Justice and Xavier Atencio. The film was based on a story by Bill Walsh, directed by Robert Stevenson, and stars Tommy Kirk as Merlin Jones, Annette Funicello as Jennifer, Leon Ames as Judge Holmsby, and Norm Grabowski as Norman.

The film begins at Midvale College’s science department, with Jennifer walking the hallway before she is accosted by fellow student Norman, who asks her to the Letterman’s Ball. Jennifer informs Norman that she already has a date, and he angrily asks what Merlin Jones, the campus genius, has that he hasn’t got, but she brushes him off as gracefully as she can. Merlin appears and walks Jennifer away, promising to take her into town after class. However, he gets caught up in his experiments and forgets, only remembering when Jennifer storms angrily into his lab, informing him that he’s an hour late. He’s rather excited about his newest project, which should track brainwave patterns using a rather elaborate helmet. When he asks Jennifer to kiss him, the brainwave pattern goes crazy. When he puts the helmet on her and kisses her, there’s no brainwave activity. Merlin is initially upset, thinking he doesn’t mean that much to Jennifer, but she points out to him that the helmet is unplugged. They finally go into town, but he wants to take the helmet with him to figure out the cause of so many traffic violations around town lately.

Merlin and Jennifer are presented in front of the judge, where they try to explain the experiment they were conducting

Merlin and Jennifer are presented in front of the judge, where they try to explain the experiment they were conducting

As Merlin and Jennifer begin their experiment, they are pulled over by a police officer, who won’t even let Merlin explain what he’s doing. The cop just tells them they can explain the ticket in front of Judge Holmsby, who doesn’t seem to like Merlin or his experiments. The judge rules that Merlin is no longer allowed to perform any experiments while driving, and suspends Merlin’s license for ten days. Back at the lab, Merlin is hard at work on his experiments, when one of the antennas from his helmet explodes, causing a chain reaction. Merlin can’t turn the switch off, but his professor does. When the professor has a thought about how screwy Merlin is, Merlin realizes that thanks to the explosion, he now has the ability to read minds. Although he is pleased to hear what people think of him, he starts getting distracted by all the thoughts he hears while studying in the library.

Jennifer enters the library, and as she passes by Norman, Merlin hears his thoughts about how he wonders how “a dish like Jennifer” is with the “campus creep” Merlin. Merlin confronts Norman, throwing him against the bookshelves and causing a domino collision of all the bookshelves in the library. Merlin and Jennifer escape to make their way to Merlin’s job at the café. Judge Holmsby is at the café, and Merlin hears Jennifer’s thoughts about how worried she is about him. As he waits on the judge’s table, he hears the thoughts of the judge, finding out that he’s really a criminal, responsible for a large payroll theft recently that is still unsolved. Merlin tries to tell the police about what he knows, but they don’t believe his accusation of the judge.

With his ability to hear thoughts, Merlin keeps close to the judge hoping to hear more evidence

With his ability to hear thoughts, Merlin keeps close to the judge hoping to hear more evidence

Back at the café, he tries to convince Jennifer of what he knows, and finally tells her that he can hear people’s thoughts. Convinced of his newfound ability, Jennifer asks him what he plans to do, and the two make their way to the judge’s house to find some evidence. Merlin stays near the judge to hear his thoughts, and finds out how the judge plans to hide the diamonds he plans to steal. Without the help of the police, Merlin and Jennifer decide to find the diamonds themselves to prove the judge is a fraud. However, what Merlin doesn’t know is that the judge writes mystery novels; his thoughts concern his books rather than an actual crime. When they finally confront the judge, he admits to his double life as a writer of mystery novels.

When Merlin goes to court about his license after the judge debacle, the judge gives Merlin the benefit of the doubt and lets him keep his license, but Merlin finds that he can no longer read minds. Returning to class, Jennifer and Merlin learn about hypnosis and Merlin asks to be the test subject. The professor successfully hypnotizes Merlin to eat a raw potato, with Merlin thinking it’s an apple. While everyone laughs at Merlin’s state, Jennifer is not at all amused. After being sent back to his desk, Merlin is commanded to kiss the first pretty girl he sees. Unfortunately for Jennifer, he kisses the girl sitting in front of her. Jennifer is steamed, although Merlin finds the idea of hypnotism fascinating.

Merlin and Norman are at odds over Norman's treatment of Stanley

Merlin and Norman are at odds over Norman’s treatment of Stanley

Late that night, Merlin thinks about hypnotism, and decides to hypnotize his cat in his theory of “helpful hypnosis.” After helping his cat chase after the dog that’s been bullying him, Merlin is ready to test his theory on people. Jennifer volunteers for Merlin’s experiment, but Merlin wants to use Stanley, the chimp in the science department. Norman, Merlin’s nemesis, refuses to let Merlin experiment with Stanley, but after Norman leaves, Merlin tries hypnosis on the chimpanzee anyway.

As Norman attempts to beat Stanley for sitting in his chair, Stanley finally fights back and begins to destroy everything in the lab. When people open the door to the lab to see the ruckus, they find an unconscious Norman, with Merlin standing over him, holding a broken bottle. Merlin is taken in front of Judge Holmsby again in an informal hearing, and when asked who attacked Norman, Merlin refuses to answer. Finally, he admits that he hypnotized Stanley, which intrigues the judge. The judge dismisses the charges, but tells Merlin that he must stay away from Stanley. He then privately asks Merlin to stop by his home to help him with a little problem. The judge, in his mystery-writing mode, asks Merlin for advice on hypnotism for his new book. He asks Merlin to help him test out the theory for his book, and while Merlin is at first averse to the idea, he finally agrees to help. The plan is to hypnotize the judge into committing a crime, bypassing the judge’s own moral code. Merlin commands the judge to steal Stanley from the psychology department. Although Merlin thinks that one cannot be hypnotized to go against his own moral code, he is surprised to see the judge leave his house to commit the crime. Jennifer and Merlin follow the judge, and retrieve Stanley after the judge has completed his orders. However, when Merlin returns Stanley, he is quickly arrested.

After figuring out the truth about Stanley's "kidnap," the three come to terms

After figuring out the truth about Stanley’s “kidnap,” the three come to terms

Jennifer visits Merlin the next morning as he is in jail, although she acts as if she will never see him again while he is “the clutches of the law.” Merlin realizes that the only way to get to the truth is to hypnotize the judge again, hoping he will remember what he did. Merlin tries to hypnotize the judge in open court using hand motions, but to no avail. He then gets Stanley called to the stand to testify. While the judge is flabbergasted, Merlin explains that he called Stanley to help demonstrate the true relationship between Stanley and Norman. Merlin asks Norman to pick Stanley up, and Stanley flees in fear. The judge rules that Norman will no longer be allowed to work with Stanley or with any other animal, but also rules that Merlin has a suspended 60-day sentence, in which he will visit the judge once a week. An angry Jennifer cries out that the judge is really the one who stole Stanley. The judge quickly summons Merlin and Jennifer into his chambers, and asks if he really stole Stanley. Merlin admits that he did, and the judge realizes that the lesson is that every man has evil in his heart, and it’s not for us to judge another person without looking inside first. The film ends with Merlin and Jennifer driving off together.

January 21

January 21, 1977 – The Live-Action Feature Film Freaky Friday is Generally Released

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“I wish I could switch places with her for just one day…”

On January 21, 1977, the live-action feature film Freaky Friday was generally released, after it played in select cities since December 17, 1976. The film was based on the 1972 children’s novel of the same name by Mary Rodgers, who also wrote the screenplay for the film. The lead song of the film, “I’d Like to Be You for a Day,” written by Joel Hirschhorn and Al Kasha, was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture. Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris were also each nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Neither Harris nor Foster did any of the waterskiing in the film, but instead did cutaway shots in front of a rear projection screen. The film was directed by Gary Nelson, and starred Jodie Foster as Annabel Andrews, Barbara Harris as Ellen Andrews, John Astin as Bill Andrews, Sparky Marcus as Ben Andrews, and Marc McClure as Boris Harris.

The story begins on Friday the 13th with Annabel Andrews narrating the story, introducing the audience to her life and her family. She adores her father, and notes that she and her mom have not been getting along lately. As Annabel leaves for school, her mother intercepts her, and the two have a tense conversation which seems to be a holdover from a fight the night before. Her mother, Ellen, tries to talk to her husband, Bill, who doesn’t seem to take her opinions seriously. Annabel goes to the local diner to meet her best friend, Virginia. As Annabel and her mother complain about the other, simultaneously they wish to be in each other’s place for just one day. Suddenly, Annabel finds herself smoking a cigarette at home, and Ellen finds herself eating an ice-cream sundae at the diner.

When "Annabel" calls home to check on "Ellen," Bill reports that Ellen is acting rather odd

When “Annabel” calls home to check on “Ellen,” Bill reports that Ellen is acting rather odd

Ellen tries to call home to see what has happened, and Bill reports that “Ellen” is now acting strangely. Annabel tells Ellen not to worry about her, and informs her that she has a big typing test and the field hockey playoffs that day. Ellen hangs up the phone and greets Annabel’s friends, but ends up making them laugh as she tries to explain her situation. At home, Annabel has to take care of her little brother and cater to the whims of her husband, who finds her Annabel-like behavior increasingly odd. The two begin to explore each other’s lives, with Annabel trying all of her mother’s makeup, and Ellen taking the bus to school.

Unfortunately for the two, things don’t get easier through the day; Annabel has problems with the washing machine, while Ellen ends up blowing up all the typewriters in the typing class. Annabel finds herself overwhelmed with all of the chores that have to be done and all the visitors that arrive at the house, including the housekeeper, the car repairman, carpet cleaners, drapery cleaners, and the grocery deliveryman. At band rehearsal, Ellen has no idea where to go or what to play, disrupting the entire formation. Finding herself bored with housework, Annabel calls up her crush, her neighbor Boris, hoping to talk herself up while in her mother’s body. Unfortunately, Annabel only succeeds in having Boris fall for Ellen rather than Annabel. Ellen gets in over her head when it comes to the field hockey match, and leads the team to a loss.

Bill volunteers his wife to cater for twenty-five people, and Annabel has no idea how to cook

Bill volunteers his wife to cater for twenty-five people, and Annabel has no idea how to cook

As Annabel plays ball with her little brother in the park, she discovers that he thinks Annabel is an amazing older sister. He worries that Annabel will only continue to hate him as they get older, but Annabel reassures him that it will be okay. When she gets home, she finds that Bill has been calling, desperate for her help, telling her that he’s volunteered her for catering his big event that evening. Ellen arrives at Bill’s work, meeting his new, young secretary, who dresses rather provocatively. Ellen intimidates the secretary, making her believe that “her mother” is rather frightening. The secretary then shows up with a rather unflattering look, terrified of the wrath of Ellen. At home, Annabel is trying to prepare the big meal for Bill’s event, when she gets a call that she’s late for meeting with her principal.

Ellen goes to Annabel’s orthodontist appointment and gets her braces off, and decides to give her daughter a makeover as well. As she leaves the store, she is kidnapped by the water-skiing team and taken away to her father’s big event, where “Annabel” is supposed to be the main attraction. Annabel meets with her principal, where she discovers that her teachers think she’s highly intelligent, but perhaps is rebelling against her mother. Chaos continues to ensue at home when the entire meal Annabel has been preparing burns up in the oven. Finding out that Ellen is at the marina, Annabel races to event, having to learn rather quickly how to drive. Ellen is sent flying into the water, not knowing how to water ski. At the same time, the two wish they had their own bodies back, and Ellen is waterskiing in her own body while Annabel is driving her mother’s car. After a police chase and a rather strange waterskiing routine, mother and daughter are reunited at the marina, and the two have a new appreciation for each other’s lives. The film ends with Bill and Ben wishing to be in the other’s shoes, with Ellen and Annabel hiding their faces in horror.

January 20

January 20, 1950 – The Donald Duck Short Film Lion Around Premieres in Theaters

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“Now, you brats get out of here. And stay out!”

On January 20, 1950, the Donald Duck short film Lion Around premiered in theaters. This film also stars Donald’s nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. The short was directed by Jack Hannah, with story by Bill Berg and Nick George.

In the woods, one of Donald’s nephews is tracking a mountain lion. As the mountain lion gets ready to pounce, he falls to the ground, and out bursts the other nephews, who had dressed up as a mountain lion as part of a game. As they all laugh at their game, they hear Donald signing from the cabin, and watch as he places a freshly made pie on the windowsill. The nephews put their heads together to try to fool their uncle. One of them runs to the cottage, crying out for help, while the two in their mountain lion costume run after him. Donald quickly grabs his shotgun and makes his way after the mountain lion. Unfortunately, the “mountain lion” scares Donald badly enough to make him drop his gun and flee.

The nephews' costume rips away, revealing the trick they played on their Uncle Donald

The nephews’ costume rips away, revealing the trick they played on their Uncle Donald

After scaring Donald away, one of the nephews grabs the pie, ready to share with his brothers. Meanwhile, Donald’s costumed nephews chase him up a tree. Unfortunately, the top half of the costume gets caught on a tree branch, revealing the ruse to Donald, who is furious. He chases the nephews and retrieves his pie. As the nephews walk away, they come across a real mountain lion. As the nephews flee, the lion turns his attention to Donald, seeing him as a slab of meat. He pounces on Donald, but Donald, thinking this is another prank from his nephews, quickly gets the upper hand and begins to give the lion a spanking. Furious at this treatment, the lion tries to find a way to get back at Donald, when he spots the pie on the windowsill. He cuts himself a piece before Donald attacks.

The lion bursts into the house for the pie, and Donald tries to punish his nephews again, when they appear in the window, holding their costume. Finally understanding that a real mountain lion is in his house, he tries to hide, but the lion pursues him. Donald climbs up the chimney and into the tree, with the mountain lion catching up to him. As Donald begins to pray, a pie lands in his hands, which he quickly feeds to the mountain lion. Another pie appears, followed by another; the nephews send pies via catapult to Donald so that the duck can distract the lion from eating him.

January 19

January 19, 2011 – The Disney Dream is Christened in Port Canaveral, Florida

The Disney Dream, Disney Cruise Line's newest ship, arrives Jan. 4. 2011 for the first time to her home port of Port Canaveral, Fla.

“Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the entire Walt Disney Company, welcome to Port Canaveral, and the christening of the Disney Dream!”

On January 19, 2011, the new Disney cruise ship, Disney Dream, was christened in Port Canaveral, Florida. At the ceremony, CEO Bob Iger introduced Jennifer Hudson as the “godmother” of the ship; Hudson had performed on the Disney Wonder as an entertainer before reaching fame on reality show American Idol. Disney Dream is the tenth largest, and the third longest cruise ship in the world, with a max capacity of 4,000 passengers. On January 26, the ship took its maiden voyage to Nassau, the Bahamas, and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island.

January 18

January 18, 1952 – The Donald Duck Short Film Donald Applecore Premieres in Theaters

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“Applecore! Baltimore! Who’s your friend? Me!”

On January 18, 1952, the Donald Duck short film Donald Applecore premiered in theaters. This short is one of several in which Chip and Dale are his main antagonists. The short was directed by Jack Hannah, with the story by Bill Berg and Nick George.

In this short, Donald is the owner of a prosperous apple farm called “Donald’s Delicious Apples.” As he is out one morning gathering apples, he notices that the side of one he’s pulled down is covered in bite marks. As he looks into his basket, he realizes that all of his apples are half eaten. As he cries in despair, he notices Chip walking down the side of the tree with an arm full of apple cores. Dale appears soon after, and they begin to use Donald’s gathering bucket for their discarded cores.

Donald stands on top of the apple silo after placing the apples Chip and Dale stole inside

Donald stands on top of the apple silo after placing the apples Chip and Dale stole inside

Donald grabs Dale and demands an explanation, and Dale tells Donald to take his basket and follow him up the tree. Donald agrees, and soon finds he’s been tricked into collecting all of their apple cores. Seeing that the two are stealing more apples, he tries to stop them. He grabs some insect powder in his crop duster, and dusts his trees, only to find that the two have gas masks to prevent the effects of the powder. Donald tries another approach by stealing their apples without their noticing. Successful, Donald takes the stolen apples to the silo. As the chipmunks try to retrieve their apples, they accidently let all the apples in the silo loose, with Donald unfortunately on top of the pile.

Apples fly all over the farm, and Donald is at his breaking point. He creates a potent mixture in his crop duster and tries to target the pair. No matter where they hide, Donald fires a shot in their direction. One shot ends up in his chicken house, where one hen swallows the atomic mixture. The egg the hen lays afterward ends up exploding, sending Donald into a deep crater into the ground, all the way to China. Chip and Dale laugh at Donald’s misfortune.