Monday, 6 October 2008

Walt Disney's "The Little House" Wilfred Jackson

There are not too many movies that can hold a class of teenagers enraptured, particularly one made 56 years ago. Such a movie is indisputably The Little House. It tells in typical sentimental style the life story of a little house, from being the heart of a growing and happy family, through the trials and tribulations of encroaching urbanisation - with a vengeance here as tower blocks stifle the light, fashions change and the demolishers move in. Although the director Wilfred Jackson won Oscars in the 1930s for three of his movies, The Little House, made in 1952 whilst being popular did not make any impact on the awards circuit. It was released as one of the Walt Disney Specials, one-off movies without the regular and much loved Disney characters. It was based on The Little House a 1942 book written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton. The ability to anthropomorphize objects has been seen before when I reviewed the 1958 treatment of the automobile, The Story of Anyburg, U.S.A. In the depiction of the house the voice of Sterling Holloway is much in evidence. He registers pathos like no-one I've heard since, his voice ringing the emotion from the situation, aided by a sympathetic musical score from Paul J. Smith one of the hugely talented professionals employed by the Disney studio. Les Clark, Marc Davis, George Rowley, Hal Ambro and Clair Weeks provided their usual magical animation, whilst the artists Ray Huffine, Claude Coats and McLaren Stewart are masters of their craft. True, the depiction of the house in its splendour is sweetness personified, though the soaring tower blocks shadowing the building, the fire and the arrival of the diggers are spectacular and suffer in no way from the passing of the years. The movie is interesting too in its cry against the build-up of the city and disappearing green belt. An alternative viewing may be obtained here.

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