Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Will Finn On Loving Disney - Even Back In The 1970s

To have been a Disney fan during the 1970’s was truly to believe in magic, sappy as that sounds. In high school my peers mocked me for going to things like the re-release of Dumbo and 101 Dalmations. These were old cartoons that had lost their relevance to the general audience stoked on 1970s hits like The Godfather and Blazing Saddles. During my time at art school, the instructors warned me not to bother…

Sleeping Beauty Castle DisneyLand by Tuxyso 
Books like Leonard Maltin’s The Disney Films and Christopher Finch’s The Art of Walt Disney validated our hopes far more than the actual Disney company itself did back then. Apart from the theme parks, the rest of the company was kind of lost - anything could have happened. 

You look at their slate of films during the 1970’s … Condorman? Unidentified Flying Oddball, The Cat From Outer Space? Yeesh. And those films went out against movies like Star Wars, E.T, and Superman.  Between The Love Bug (1969) and Splash (1983) there was mostly nothing but…whoo… 

When I got accepted as a trainee in 1979 I was hiking around Burbank trying to rent an apartment - little old landladies would peep through their locked screened doors at this skinny hippie who said he was going to work for Disney. “Son, that’ s down in Anahiem, you don’t want to rent here” - they all said.  I tried to explain that there was a Disney movie studio less than a mile away and they would not believe me… Freaky Friday? The Rescuers? I’d ask… but they shook their heads, eyes blank. 

In the 1970s it was sheer magic kept that dream alive. I am still stunned by the good fortune of it all, even if the pixie dust did eventually wear off…

---Will Finn

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