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Walt Disney Home Video presents
Walt Disney Treasures: Your Host, Walt Disney (1954)

"I give you the happiest kid in the park, Walt Disney."
- Art Linkletter

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: January 17, 2007

Stars: Walt Disney
Other Stars: Leonard Maltin, Fess Parker, Annette Funicello, Tommy Sands, Kurt Douglas, Dennis Hopper, Richard Nixon, Lawrence Welk
Director: Varied

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 04h:50m:22s
Release Date: December 19, 2006
UPC: 786936702255
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B BBB+ B

DVD Review

In today's corporate-driven media world, the Disney name has become a brand synonymous with a wide range of high-grossing entertainment. Fifty years ago, the company was well-known, but television was just coming into prominence. Also, the name Disney stood for a person more than a giant corporation. That man was Walt Disney, a complex figure who could be charming in public and ruthless behind closed doors. The genial side of his personality is fully on display in the latest Walt Disney Treasures series release, Your Host, Walt Disney.

This interesting two-disc collection of television shows covers 1956 to 1965—the time following the opening of Disneyland in California. The park's popularity was soaring, and Walt used his Disneyland series to sell the new rides and upcoming films. Your opinions about these inclusions will completely depend on your feelings about Walt and the Disney product. Fanatics will undoubtedly love these inclusions, but critics might also point out the overdone promotional aspects. My feelings reside in the middle. I enjoy the Disney parks, but found certain elements of this set cheesy and fairly tedious. The amount of historic material is impressive, but the inclusions offer varying degrees of quality. See below for descriptions of each segment!

Disc One

Where Do Stories Come From? (51:49)
This memorable opener includes some fun cartoons and quick scenes of artists working backstage. The animated shorts include Chip and Dale angering Donald and Pluto being foiled by a crafty raccoon during a hunt. Originally airing in 1956, this episode also provides a compelling look at the model railroads constructed by Walt and his associates. One story creator spent 4,000 hours creating a model train in his backyard, and the result is very impressive. Walt also built his own railroad with 2,600 feet of track in his backyard—a stunning amount of track. One silly moment involves Kurt Douglas acting as a guest engineer, which definitely is worth seeing.

Fourth Anniversary Show (51:59)
This episode celebrates the fourth anniversary of the Disneyland series, but it doesn't really feel that different from a typical episode. Walt spends considerable time speaking about Peter and the Wolf, and we see of a re-creation of him meeting the composer. Some famous Disney figures also appear, including the Mousketeers, Fess Parker, and Zorro.

Kodak Presents Disneyland '59 (1:29:28)
This 90-minute celebration at Disneyland is most notable for the goofy commercials for Kodak products starring a wide range of stars, including Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. The actors stand in front of screens that make them appear to be interacting at the theme park, but the effect is very obvious. This feature lags due to an extremely long parade, which is noteworthy for appearances by Lawrence Welk and Dennis Hopper. Art Linklater hosts the show and introduces the three new Disney rides—the Submarine Voyage, the Monorail, and the Matterhorn. The presentations are sometimes dull, but they do include some priceless moments, particularly Richard Nixon kids' inability to perform the Monorail ribbon-cutting.

Disc 2

Backstage Party (51:52)
This full-length 1961 episode of the Wonderful World of Color is presented as a behind-the-scenes look at Babes of Toyland's cast. However, it functions more like a long-form commercial for the upcoming film. Viewers who enjoyed the picture will receive a glimpse behind the scenes, but it shouldn't offer much value to everyone else. One highlight shows Walt interacting with a big tree, which again reveals his immense charm. Tommy Sands and Annette Funicello both make appearances, but movie footage occupies too much time in this middling presentation.

Disneyland Tenth Anniversary Show (45:22)
This 1965 feature offers considerable footage of Disneyland and information about the creation of several classic attractions. However, its inclusion is controversial among fans for two reasons: It already appeared on the Disneyland USA release, and it is missing more than five minutes of footage from the Enchanted Tiki Room segment. While most viewers (including myself) will not be aware of these edits, their omission is unfortunate. I did find this episode to be one of the best on the set because it covered Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and the Tiki Room. The large model of the Pirates ride is especially impressive and shows Walt acting like an enthusiastic kid. The only other downside is his bland co-host, who is completely unnecessary and provides little worthy input.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: This full-frame release includes both color and black-and-white features, and the image quality varies considerably between each item. The picture clarity also differs significantly within the individual presentations. A prominent example is the Disneyland '59 show, which offers some extremely hazy images from the park but also includes sharp footage. The overall presentation is solid, however, and the variations are understandable due to the age of the material.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: This two-disc set offers a solid audio presentation that improves considerably over the original soundtrack. There are limitations due to the age and technology of the '50s TV shows, but they rarely are noticeable. Walt Disney's considerable dialogue is clear and understandable, which is an essential aspect of this collection.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: generic plastic two-disc keepc
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Introductions by Leonard Maltin
  2. Galleries
Extras Review: If the nearly five hours of original footage was not enough, this release also provides several more hours of bonus material. Several pieces would have worked fine as primary features, but since they've been placed separately in the menus, I will describe them here. Each disc also contains a brief introduction from film expert Leonard Maltin, who displays tremendous enthusiasm for each inclusion. The individual extras are described in the following sections:

Disc 1

My Dad, Walt Disney (21:00)
The first disc's only extra feature is the set's best—an enjoyable interview of Walt's daughter Diane Disney Miller. Maltin does get a bit too gushy about her childhood, but she does provide some great information. We learn about her early home life, time at the Hyperion and Burbank studios, and meeting her husband Ron Miller. She also describes the construction of the museum commemorating Walt, which sounds like an intriguing place.

Disc 2

I Captured the King of the Leprechauns (48:51)
This lengthy show presents a commercial for the 1959 film Darby O'Gill and the Little People disguised as Walt taking a trip to Ireland. His early attempts to find the king of the Leprechauns are clever, but quickly devolve into lengthy film clips disguised as Irish folklore. Walt is very charming, and the use of forced perspective is excellent, but viewers may grow weary of this advertisement. Note: This extra was originally included in the film's 2004 DVD release.

Disneyland USA at Radio City Music Hall (6:07)
This interesting segment from 1962 includes the Cinemascope footage from Walt's presentation at Radio City Music Hall. Appearing on the screen, he interacts with a live-action, on-stage version of Mickey Mouse. This creative device offers a basic history of Disneyland's construction.

Working with Walt (8:44)
This recently produced feature includes comments from grown-up Mouseketeers like Don Grady and former Disney stars like Tim Considine and Tommy Kirk (the Hardy Boys). The oddest appearance comes from Tommy Sands, whose dyed black mop of hair resembles how older rockers now look on VH1. Maltin narrates this fun segment, which covers Walt's reaction to them and the studio atmosphere.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

My family often traveled to Disney World when I was young, and I've always found Walt Disney to be a compelling figure. This two-disc collection provides some nice glimpses at the creative man and his friendly TV persona. However, the included segments are fairly uneven and could have been stronger. The shows remain interesting, but they fall a bit short of offering riveting material.

 


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