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Christie’s auctioning Rare Disney material

My friend Philippe Videcoq is selling 25 Disney items in an upcoming Christie’s movie memorabilia auction. Among many drawings and layouts, he’s selling three extremely rare items : a three page synopsis from Alice the Beach Nut (the penultimate in the series), typed in 1927; a United Artists Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies Press book; and a 191 page folder entitled Future Fantasias compiled by studio researcher Bob Carr at Walt’s request before Fantasia’s premiere, detailing all possible musical choices for sequence replacements or sequels to Fantasia.

Phillppe sent me some details on the Future Fantasias folder:

During the making of the film, he asked Robert Spencer Carr to keep track of all ideas and projects discussed at the studio for quick reference and further discussion. Carr (March 26, 1909 — April 28, 1994) was Director of Educational Research for Walt Disney Studios. After he left the studio, he became Special Advisor to NICAP. He also served with the Army Orientation Service, produced educational films for the State Department and teached communication at the University of south Florida. He was also an American writer of science fiction and fantasy (selling his first story to Weird Tales at age 15) .

As stated in the opening memo to Walt, this was given to him on October 23, 1940 as a “field manual” for his trip east. This trip was Walt’s trip to New York for the world Premiere of Fantasia, 23 days later (Nov. 13, 1940). Of course, in view of the film’s disappointing box-office returns, the cost of the revolutionary Fantasound system in the theatres, and a closing foreign market due to World War 2, Walt put all these projects aside, but many ideas would eventually turn out as sequences in the package features: Peter and the Wolf in Make Mine Music (1946), Flight of the Bumble Bee (renamed Bumble Boogie) in Melody Time (1948), Rhapsody in Blue and The Firebird in the long-awaited sequel Fantasia 2000. Debussy’s Clair de Lune was even animated, ending up as the Blue Bayou sequence in Make Mine Music. Finally, two suggestions (Valse Triste and Afternoon of a Faun) were eventually used by Italian animator Bruno Bozzetto in his Fantasia spoof Allegro non Troppo (1977).

The folder lists all musical studio properties (and titles advised for copyright), story numbers assigned to pieces, detailed story research, development and production notes, as well as the Deems Taylor dialog written for many pieces (and often recorded, with recording dates). It also includes complete proposed programs for eventual sequels, and a nine page transcript of a story meeting held at the studio on may 14, 1940, with the participation of Walt, Leopold Stokowski, Joe Grant, Ben Sharpsteen and Ed Plumb.

The photograph (above, right) of Walt Disney in his office shows the Future Fantasias folder right behind him, on a shelf.

The auction will take place on November 24th in London. For more information click here.

  • Brian

    I wish they’d put out Fantasia 2010. Love that stuff.

  • I have a question, for anyone who might have an answer…

    In the war-time market the inexpensive traditional feature “Dumbo” still did well but the inexpensive “package” features not so much. Why did he keep making the package features instead of some more typical things like “Dumbo”? Was the talent to do a full-length feature just gone because of the war or the strike or was there some drastic economy in the package films that was irresistible? Or?

  • The package features could be broken down and distributed as shorts to make more money for the same animation.

    I can see paying a lot for a great drawing, but a mimeographed shot list?!

  • JB Kaufman

    “Dumbo” was indeed the first in what was supposed to be a series of economically-produced features, but it was completed before the US entered the war. During the war, of course, most of the studio’s output was war-related, and the first of the “package” features, “Make Mine Music,” didn’t appear until the war was over. At that point, yes, it was a matter of economics — a feature-length film, even an economically produced one like “Dumbo,” just wasn’t possible for the time being. Making a film like “Make Mine Music” was the equivalent of producing so many short subjects. In the meantime, some further “budget” features that had been started before the war, such as “Mickey and the Beanstalk” and “Wind in the Willows,” were reactivated and ultimately found their way into combination films — respectively, “Fun and Fancy Free” and “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” — which, today, are usually lumped into the same category with the “package” features.

  • David Breneman

    I love that wraparound credenza in Disney’s office. He had such a great sense of style in so many areas.