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Walt and El Grupo


Karl Cohen (president of ASIFA-San Francisco) just sent us his first impressions of Walt and El Grupo the new film by Ted Thomas, which I can’t wait to see myself:

I just saw Ted Thomas’ feature Walt and El Grupo that just had its world premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival. It is a documentary about Walt and some of his staff on a goodwill tour of South America in 1941 that occurred during the strike at the studio. It provides an excellent account of why the tour happened and what resulted from the adventure. The story is told using interviews of Latin Americans and relatives of the people who went, footage from Disney TV shows about the trip, lots of still photographs, art work created on the trip, 16mm “home movies” shot by the people who went (often hand held footage and probably shot on Kodachrome film so the colors are still excellent), newspaper coverage that sometimes included grim reminders of the coming war on the same page as a photo of Walt, plus lots of modern footage. One nice design element is Ted uses lots of well registered dissolves between modern color and historic b/w photos often set to charming music. John Canemaker and J. B. Kaufman do a valuable job provided historical details/background information. The documentary has some really important material in it, but it does drag at times. I’m not sure of the length, but it seemed like it lasted about 2 hours.

Walt and El Grupo is really is an impressive accomplishment and provides a great deal of information about the trip, plus rarely talked about details about Disney’s studio and Walt before, during and after the strike. The all too brief segment on Mary Blair is one of many excellent highlights. It also has some interesting comments by people in South America about the films that resulted from the trip (mostly favorable, but…). I hope ASIFA-Hollywood can present it with Ted present, and eventually all Cartoon Brew readers can see it soon on a big screen at a film festival. I assume Disney will eventually release it on DVD; Ted’s earlier work includes the important feature length documentary Frank and Ollie.

  • The film has an official site: I look forward to seeing the film!

  • Pedro Nakama

    This looks really good!

  • Sounds like, truly, my cup of tea!

    Alas…alas! An outlet to vent my joy of (just having dashed to get) the “Caballeros Collection” DVD just out. (only $15 , Best Buy!) The goodies (& South American docu) is too tooooooo diveene!! Just gorgeous! Prism dripping colors!

  • Hank Cantfield

    It’s a nice little film, as was Ted’s previous effort. Not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but worthy of being made and a bit of history worth paying attention to. But also, like his previous effort, it’s a bit on the soft side, with not quite enough information on the extent of Disney’s involvement in the Good Neighbor policy, nor enough on the governments reneging on finances on some of the Disney projects–putting Walt and his studio in dire straights. It will make good filler on one of the upcoming Disney tin sets, though.

  • red pill junkie

    Hey, that’s sounds really interesting!

  • Speaking of Saludos/Caballeros, is it worth it to get the new double feature disc if you already have the previous editions on DVD? I watched Saludos on a big screen TV the other night and it looked fine. I see the new double feature has different shorts as extras though. I kinda hate double-dipping by home video companies, but I can probably sell the old discs anyway and make up most of the difference.

    And I take it Gaucho Goofy is still censored, while Jose puffs away…

  • mawnck

    Stephen – The transfers are the *exact* same ones as the previous editions.

    The only new thing you’d be getting is a couple of different shorts, a relatively harmless faked 5.1 soundtrack (with no option for the mono original), and a French soundtrack for Saludos. And you’ll be losing the trailers.

    Yes, Goofy is still censored.

  • Hank Cantfield

    The European DVD’s of these (and Melody Time and Make Mine Music) are all UNEDITED. If you’ve got a region-free player, they’re the same transfers.

  • Hmm…I might not bother with Melody Time just to have Pecos Bill with smokes intact, but if Make Mine Music has the complete Martins & the Coys sequence, I might just have to pay a visit to…