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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthy Successor to "Working With Walt", March 20, 2011
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This review is from: Working with Disney: Interviews with Animators, Producers, and Artists (Paperback)
"Working with Disney" by Don Peri is a worthy successor to his first book about Disney animators, "Working with Walt". In this new set of interviews with those fortunate enough to work with Walt Disney, the author expands his focus to include not only animators, but also animation directors and producers, story idea people, writers, actors, imagineers, and even Disneyland ride operators.
The sum of the parts may not be quite as perfect as "Working with Walt", but is still a fascinating inside glimpse into the talented people who had the honor and the challenge of creating movie magic with Walt Disney as the omnipresent great man they tried to impress.

Some of the inside knowledge into animation and the references to Disney films may be a little deep for the Disney neophyte. It definitely helps to already know the basic history of Walt Disney and his films. Here's a very quick run-down of the interviews in the order they appear in the book, and my impression of them.

Interviews with Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, and Marc Davis. All three of these legendary animators were in the original fabled "Nine Old Men" of Disney studios. They worked on almost all the great Disney classic feature length animated films from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves through The Jungle Book. Delightful stories and remembrances of working with Walt.

Dave Hand, a long-time animator for Disney, appears to be extremely guarded and a little bit defensive and evasive during his interview, which was a bit of a disappointment. Author Don Peri notes of Dave Hand that "He was hesitant to participate in a face to face interview". The two never met, and the interview was done through correspondence, which may account for the somewhat distant and lackluster tone of the interview.

Walter Lantz, the inventor of Woody Woodpecker. A curious choice to include in this set of interviews, as it appears he never worked directly for Disney, but did continue animating "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" invented by Walt Disney. The introduction to the interview somewhat euphemistically states "When Walt Disney lost the character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to his distributor, Charles Mintz, Universal retained the copyright, and the company's head, Carl Laemmle Jr., soon asked Walter to replace Mintz as producer, giving Oswald a new lease on life..." According to other histories, the character Oswald was stolen from Walt and he was unceremoniously cut out of the Oswald franchise. Nevertheless, a fine interview, with some interesting history of Woody the Woodpecker.

Giles "Frenchy" de Tremaudan, an animator for Disney, was tracked down when he was quite old and in poor health, and subsequently, he doesn't have a lot to say.

Lance Nolley, a "big-hearted Texan" was an art director, layout artist, and production designer on many short subjects for Disney. He's a lot of fun and his warmth and enthusiasm shine through. He has some great stories on what it was like to work for Hannah-Barbera between stints working for Disney.

Xavier "X" Atencio worked on shorts, titles for feature length films, and later on for WED (Enterprises), he even wrote the lyrics to "Yo Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)" for the Disneyland attraction "The Pirates of the Caribbean". Another terrific story-teller with insider stories of "the strike" at Disney studios prior to World War II.

Bill Justice and Lou Debney - Bill was an animator and Lou was an assistant director and production coordinator. Both are wonderful interviews with men who clearly loved their work and working for Walt Disney. Lengthy interviews that are informative and fascinating.

Joyce Belanger, John Catone, and Van France worked behind the scenes in various roles to support Disneyland (ticket taker, communication services director, attraction consultant), and collectively, they all add depth and a non-animation perspective to working with Disney and working at Disneyland.

Bobby Burgess and Sharon Baird were both Mousketeers who starred in the television show "The Mickey Mouse Club", and both were dancers and remained so professionally even after the television show was canceled. Two of the brightest, most endearing interviews in the collection, their joy and enthusiasm for being in the Mickey Mouse Club was still shining through decades later and is captured in these two delightful interviews.

In summary, "Working With Disney" is a must-have collection of interviews for anybody interested in the art of Walt Disney, and is curious to know a little more about the people and the work they did to make possible that "Disney magic".
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Review Details

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Reviewer

Glenn Gallagher
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Sacramento, CA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 202,597