December 7, 2009 — Zorro leaps back into action in Walt Disney Treasures’ two complete season sets, plus a look back at meeting Disney Legend Richard Todd.
We’ve just a small update today to point you in the direction of our two latest reviews, for the return of the original man in black, Zorro – or more precisely Guy Williams in Walt Disney’s simply excellent 1950s television serial version. Re-watching these shows again after not seeing them for years, I was somewhat amazed at how well they held up, and thought I shouldn’t be since this was Disney at the top of his game and though it is television material, it puts other feature film work from competing studios to shame.
My colleague Rand had not seen the shows before at all, but came away with just as much enthusiasm for them as I have, calling Zorro “the perfect TV show”. He’s absolutely right and any Disney fans with even a passing interest in Walt’s live-action productions deserves to treat themselves to these two wonderful helpings of pure escapist entertainment and charming nostalgia!
• Walt Disney Treasures: Zorro, The Complete First Season – “Sure to capture the excitable child in you, it’s all done with such gusto and a straight face that one simply rides along with it. The typically light Treasures treatment doesn’t cover every angle that it could, but buy it for the absolutely excellent show!”
• Walt Disney Treasures: Zorro, The Complete Second Season – “The perfect television show; hard to imagine being any better, with ideal casting throughout, exciting and funny scripts, and extremely high production values. Even as a grown-up seeing these for the first time, I was absolutely enchanted and delighted”.
For some extra Zorro fun, don’t forget that Jeremie recently caught up with Disney Legend Floyd Norman, who recalled visiting the Zorro set on the Disney backlot and showed us some of his photos at the time!
I was saddened to have to report the death of another Disney Legend, Richard Todd, on Friday, having previously met him at a screening of the seminal British war film The Dam Busters in 2008. We had an absolutely gorgeous print, and Richard got a big cheer as he came on screen, but beforehand I had been lucky enough to meet with him for dinner and discuss his earlier Disney career, when he was the lead in Walt’s first forays into live-action with the historical epics The Story Of Robin Hood And His Merrie Men, The Sword And The Rose and Rob Roy: The Highland Rogue.
Since I had been a fan of all three, I knew Richard’s career well and he regaled us with several amusing stories of how he kept falling off his horse and did as many of his own stunts as possible. He struck up a friendship with Walt, who looked him up whenever he came to Britain, and it was just a delight to have the time to speak to a true veteran of the movie business who had been fortunate to star in some great films and collaborate with some great people. Richard had also been a war hero himself (as one of the first members of the Parachute Regiment to jump on D-Day) and re-enacted his role in the effort in the epic The Longest Day.
Todd also made Stage Fright with Alfred Hitchcock at Elstree Studios (also home to his Oscar-nominated breakthrough The Hasty Heart, with Ronald Reagan, and Rob Roy and The Dam Busters among others), where he was the Studio’s biggest contract star draw throughout the 1950s. His return to Elstree for The Dam Busters last year was a highlight I shall never forget, and the pre-screening Q&A that I hosted was magical. Richard was genial as he recalled landing the part, and such was his standing that he had approval over the director, Michael Anderson, who went on to a considerable career of his own.
It was a terrific evening, which turned into almost an hour-long question and answer session, but no-one was impatient for the film to begin. Although he was understandably tired, his stiff upper lip sensibility carried him through, and he signed as many autographs as he could before and after the film began. We were pleased to present him with a poster reproduction of The Dam Busters, and he remarked that he was never able to keep anything from the film. Well, we have that film among many others to remember him by, and I have those special memories of a wonderful evening when I managed to meet one of my own screen heroes.
More reviews are on the way, and we’ll have that Curious George contest winner for you soon, too. — Ben.