I was thinking recently how wonderful it would be if the Disney Company compiled a Blu-ray Treasures collection of projects directed by Ward Kimball. To be honest, it’s hard to imagine a project like this ever happening, especially under the (dormant) Treasures label where the only name promoted is Walt’s. Still, I can’t help but think there must be some way for the Disney company to recognize the work of its most original and experimental director, or in the words of Walt Disney, “the one man who works for me I call a genius.” Ward has inspired everybody from Hayao Miyazaki to Chris Sanders, and it’s high time to introduce his work to new generations.
Some will point out that a decent amount of Ward’s work is already available: Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom and Melody appeared on the Disney Rarities DVD, and the space specials and Eyes in Outer Space were featured in the Tomorrow Land Treasures. However, a lot of Ward’s most memorable work as a director, including some of the studio’s oft-requested cult favorites, have never been released onto DVD. The majority of these works are from his later period when he was at his satirical peak. As an exercise in wishful thinking, here’s what my ideal Ward Kimball collection would include:
* Magic Highway, USA (1958), worth it just for the retro-futuristic “Road Ahead” sequence that later played at EPCOT’s Horizons attraction. (50 minutes)
* It’s Tough To Be a Bird (1969), an Oscar winning short that was also extended into a 50-minute Wonderful World of Color episode.