101 Dalmatians (1961)


101 Dalmatians (1961) Review

She may not be subtle, but Cruella De Vil is without doubt one of animation's greatest villains. How bad is she? So bad she's looking to kidnap a load of Dalmatian puppies (101 of them to be exact) in order to fashion them into a white-with-black-spots fur coat.

Such is the central plot to 101 Dalmatians (note the spelling: It's not "Dalmations"), an unabashed Disney classic with all the necessary elements: Love story, heinous baddy, talking animals, and a happy ending. Kids love the movie -- my two-year-old son refers to it as merely "Doggies!" -- but you'd be surprised how straightforward the thing is. Dogs get kidnapped by Cruella's goons, dogs eventually escape. Everything else that happens (and it isn't much; this is a 79-minute long film) is just what you'd expect.

Fortunately, Cruella appears here to liven things up considerably. She's evil incarnate, so over-the-top that you hate her frame one, exactly as intended. Making a coat out of puppies? Jeez, Cinderella's stepmom has nothing on this lady. It's too bad, alas, that Cruella isn't enough to make 101 Dalmatians one of Disney's best (in fact, this was one of the last films with which Walt himself was directly involved), but it's good enough to merit repeated viewings. Particularly if you're two.

The newly-released DVD includes a nicely restored picture and audio, plus copious extras spread across two DVDs. Two pop-up trivia tracks make the film more engaging for adults, and the usual collection of technical extras (including deleted songs) and mini games make for amusing distractions for film history fans and kids, respectively.

Aka One Hundred and One Dalmatians.

Facts and Figures

Genre: Animation

Box Office Worldwide: $215.9M

Budget: $4M

Production compaines: Walt Disney Productions


Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew


Starring: as Pongo, J. Pat O'Malley as Colonel / Jasper, Betty Lou Gerson as Cruella De Vil / Miss Birdwell, Martha Wentworth as Nanny / Queenie / Lucy, Ben Wright as Roger, Cate Bauer as Perdita, David Frankham as Sgt. Tibs, Frederick Worlock as Horace / Inspector Craven, Lisa Davis as Anita, as Quizmaster / Collie, Tudor Owen as Towser, George Pelling as Danny, Ramsay Hill as Television Announcer / Labrador, as Princess, Marjorie Bennett as Duchess, Mickey Maga as Patch, Barbara Beaird as Rolly, Mimi Gibson as Lucky, Sandra Abbott as Penny, Thurl Ravenscroft as Captain, Bill Lee as Roger (singing voice)

Also starring: ,