The Wonderful World of Disney Comes to TCM

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As a kid growing up in 1970s my Sunday nights revolved around The Wonderful World of Disney. It was my cherished respite before the much dreaded school week began and I savored every last minute spent in front of the family television set. At the time, residents in the San Francisco Bay Area where I was born and mostly raised, only had access to 10 or 12 available channels to choose from and many of those were locally run and operated. There were no video stores renting movies in those days and the idea of streaming films directly into your own home was merely a faraway fantasy. In these limited environs, The Wonderful World of Disney offered kids and adults of all ages a surprisingly diverse and family friendly smorgasbord of programming that included animated and live action films, nature documentaries, educational shorts and special broadcasts made especially for television. Much to my delight, Turner Classic Movies has recently teamed-up with The Walt Disney Studios for a new on-going program called Treasures from the Disney Vault hosted by Ben Mankiewicz and film critic Leonard Maltin that’s making its debut this coming Sunday night on December 21st. TCM’s impressive 8-hour block of television is a throwback to The Wonderful World of Disney of my childhood and I hope it will introduce a new generation to the wonderful treasures hidden deep within the vaults of the Disney Studios.

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The first film to kick off TCM’s Treasures from the Disney Vault is the animated holiday short SANTA’S WORKSHOP (1932) followed by the classic ON ICE (1935) featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse along with Pluto, Goofy and Donald Duck. Donald Duck later makes an appearance in CHIP AN’ DALE (1947), where he wrestles with the two chipmunks after mistaking their home for firewood. These winter-themed animated shorts are followed by the pilot episode of the original Disney television series, which first began airing on ABC in 1954 titled WALT DISNEY’S WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR: THE DISNEYLAND STORY. The hour-long program introduces viewers to the upcoming series as well as the Disneyland theme park that was still in the planning and building stages. Classic film fans should be on the lookout for appearances by Kirk Douglas, Peter Lorre and James Mason who were busy making 20 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954) for Disney at the time. Afterward you can look forward to four feature-length films beginning with THE RELUCTANT DRAGON (1941) that provides a tour of the Disney Studios and includes various animated shorts. This is followed by the hugely successful DAVY CROCKETT, KING OF THE WILD FRONTIER (1955), which starred Fess Parker and combined episodes of the popular television series into one 90 minute movie. Next up is the Oscar-winning nature documentary, THE VANISHING PRAIRIE (1954) and last but not least, if you stay up late enough you can catch THIRD MAN ON THE MOUNTAIN aka BANNER IN THE SKY (1959). This mountain climbing adventure was shot in Switzerland and stars a young James MacArthur who is probably best known to audiences as “Danno” from the original HAWAII FIVE-O (1968-1979). THIRD MAN ON THE MOUNTAIN was only a minor success but it inspired the popular Matterhorn ‘Mountain’ Bobsleds ride at Disneyland that has become one of the theme park’s most recognizable and beloved attractions.

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This exciting Sunday line-up is just a small taste of the Disney classics you can expect to see on TCM in 2015. There have been no firm dates set for the next installment of Treasures from the Disney Vault but upcoming screenings reportedly include the popular live-action Disney films TREASURE ISLAND (1950), DARBY O’GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE (1959) and POLLYANNA (1960). You can also look forward to a number of animated films and shorts including a couple of my personal favorites, THE THREE CABALLEROS (1944) and THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD (1949). In addition they will screen many animated shorts such as the Oscar-winning FLOWER AND THE TREES (1932) and acclaimed nature documentaries THE LIVING DESERT (1953) and THE AFRICAN LION (1953). A recent news release explained that the TCM and Disney team-up is part of a joint effort by both company brands to broaden their reach in family entertainment and includes a TCM-style makeover of the Disney World Resort’s Great Movie Ride Attraction, which is styled after the historic Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The makeover will incorporate a new introduction message from TCM host Robert Osborne who will provide insights into the movies spotlighted during the ride. According to TCM general manager Jennifer Doran, “At TCM it’s our mission to share and celebrate the greatest films of all time. Disney provides the perfect relationship through which we can share the magic of the movies with every generation, not only through an amazing new showcase on TCM, but also through newly refreshed components of The Great Movie Ride Attraction.”

For further information about TCM’s team-up with Walt Disney Studios please visit the link below and remember to tune in this coming Sunday to see the first installment of Treasures from the Disney Vault!

Further reading:
- Treasures of the Disney Vault at TCM.com

22 Responses The Wonderful World of Disney Comes to TCM
Posted By Ben Martin : December 18, 2014 5:24 pm

Wholly WOW – this is great news in so many ways. I hope this line-up will some day include those magical mini movies that appeared that would just make my Sunday. Films such as Gallegher (and the Further Adventures of Gallegher) Roger Mobley anyone?? Or Emil and the Detectives, The Magnificent Rebel, Toby Tyler, Johnny Shiloh? OOooooh – how about Dr. Syn: Alias the Scarecrow?? I’m overwhelmed with the possibilities. (I always felt guilty that i was always so disappointed if a nature segment came on instead of a movie or a cartoon. ) Congrats TCM and thanks for the great news Kimberly.

Posted By AL : December 18, 2014 9:48 pm

This is exciting.

Posted By Doug : December 18, 2014 11:26 pm

I’m with Ben-”Dr. Syn: Alias the Scarecrow” made quite an impression on me back then. Congrats to TCM for making this happen.
“The Reluctant Dragon” surprised me-I have most of Benchley’s writings, and a few of his short films, but hadn’t heard of his
working with Disney. Never too old to learn more good stuff!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : December 19, 2014 6:38 am

So glad to see that some readers are as excited about the possibilities as I am! I love Disney animation but I also really enjoyed their made-for-TV films such as Dr. Syn: Alias the Scarecrow that has been mentioned by others. Many of these TV films are not available on DVD and I’m sure they’d find a welcoming audience at TCM. Hopefully we’ll get access to a lot more treasures from the Disney vaults next year.

Posted By DBenson : December 19, 2014 7:00 am

Another note from my boomer past (early 60s) is that Disney cartoons and features simply weren’t seen anywhere else on television, except for Mousekartoons on the syndicated Mickey Mouse Club. Disney never sold its film library, re-releasing even “Misadventures of Merlin Jones” to theaters.

All the other studios were well represented on network movie nights, late shows and local afternoon slots. Not Disney. And Mickey never joined Bugs, Popeye, Droopy and the others on local kiddie shows, or even network Saturday mornings.

This was when Disney was still a precisely defined brand, like Universal’s monsters and MGM’s musicals. They were usually poison to teens (aside from the holiday biggies), but a big deal to kids and parents. Today, what we called Disney films are just part of Disney’s massive output. And most of the Walt-period features and shorts are (or have been) available on home video. I’ve got too many of them.

But even when popping in a DVD, I remember sticking with the World of Color through the closing credits for the movie ad they usually tacked on. That was often the first tantalizing glimpse of the newest film (unless the show itself was a making-of documentary) or the re-release of an animated feature I’d never seen but knew from the books, the comics, the records, the ride at Disneyland, etc.

Posted By swac44 : December 19, 2014 8:25 pm

Count me in for Dr. Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh as well, although if they do I hope it’s the longer multi-part version and not the edited theatrical version. There was a DVD of both versions issued through the Disney Treasures line which came in bulky metal tins, but for some reason the Dr. Syn release went out of print almost immediately and commands ridiculous prices on the collector’s market. Good luck finding one for under $200.

I know it’s not a great film, but I’d still love to see them run the live-action Disney comedy The Boatniks, which I saw as a kid at the drive-in. Love that cast: Robert Morse, Don Ameche, Phil Silvers, Stephanie Powers, Norman Fell, Wally Cox, Joe E. Ross, Al Lewis. It’s a character actor lover’s dream.

Also, make it a double feature of Darby O’Gill and The Gnome-Mobile! Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.

Posted By Jlewis : December 20, 2014 2:45 pm

Another buried treasure: the “People & Places” travelogues of the 1950s. We see the production of at least three of these in THE DISNEYLAND STORY. These roughly 10 minute long theatrical shorts (a few in CinemaScope) were shown on the Disney Channel briefly in the 1980s (the wide-screen ones “pan and scan”, of course) and on 16mm made-for-schools prints in the preceding three decades. Yet, just as the Fox “Magic Carpet” series has been forgotten in vaults… and only recently a few of Warner’s own travelogues have gotten televised (i.e. just MGM’s FitzPatrick Traveltalks have been regularly shown on TCM), modern Disney executives see no $$$$ reissue value for scenic tours shot in places unrecognizable today with all of the McDonalds and Starbucks dotting the landscapes.

In fact, I hear… that the latest DVD version of SLEEPING BEAUTY axed the theatrical short GRAND CANYON initially shown with it in theaters as a DVD “extra” in favor of more MALIFICENT promoting. (Not that I have any desire to replace my older DVD version of SLEEPING BEAUTY with the “new and improved” one, better suited to children who have less tolerance for classical music mixed with wide-screen Colorado River shots and canyon critters.)

Posted By Erin : December 22, 2014 1:28 am

Watching the Disney cartoons this evening hosted by Leonard Maltin. The comment was made that TCM does not censor, but the cartoon “Santa’s Workshop” was clearly censored. Before the plane in the what I will call the “testing scene”, a mama doll comes down the chute to learn to say “mama” and then a little black doll comes down to immediately say “mammie”. The cartoon was cut to remove the the dolls in the scene. This is very disappointing as a true old Disney cartoon lover.

Posted By Robert : December 22, 2014 6:15 am

@Erin, the cartoon was likely edited by Disney before submission to TCM. I have never seen a censored film on TCM in the years I have been a subscriber and I commend them for this.

This collaboration with Disney is absolutely fantastic news! I caught Davey Crockett tonight totally by accident and had to come to the website to find out what was going on! You can definitely add me to the list of people who want to see Dr.Syn, one of my all time favourite characters from my childhood.

I am very much looking forward to the next installment of this great collaboration!

Posted By Ken R. Vincent : December 22, 2014 3:17 pm

Wow! Thanks for unlocking the Disney Vault.

Posted By swac44 : December 22, 2014 7:07 pm

I’m not sure which show I caught in passing the other night, I guess it was The Disneyland Story, but I was pleased to see it included a healthy chunk of Song of the South, albeit in B&W. But still, seeing Everybody Has a Laughing Place again reminded me of what a shame that the film isn’t available in some (legit) form, even with disclaimers and an explanation of its historical context and so on.

Posted By Matt Edwards : December 22, 2014 8:16 pm

I grew up with the Wonderful World of Disney in the ’70s and early ’80s. So many great titles in that timespan. I remember being excited when the Disney Channel debuted in 1983, as they showed the classic films and serieses all day long. That lasted about two years before original programming took over. Glad to see TCM bringing back the classics. Would love to see Zorro and Dr. Syn, Alias The Scarecrow.

Posted By george : December 22, 2014 8:53 pm

Does this mean we’ll get to see SOUTH OF THE SOUTH (the whole movie, not just clips), which Disney has kept locked in its vaults since 1986?

The other day, an NPR commentator was comparing Sony’s shelving of THE INTERVIEW with Disney’s suppression of SONG OF THE SOUTH. The point being that both movies exist but the owners won’t allow the public to see them.

Posted By george : December 22, 2014 8:54 pm

Oops, I meant SONG OF THE SOUTH in the first graf.

Posted By swac44 : December 22, 2014 10:08 pm

The difference being that Disney has already made its money back on Song of the South a few times over (and technically still makes money on it through its Disney World Splash Mountain ride and merchandise). I imagine The Interview will surface in some form at some point.

Maybe on a double bill with The Day the Clown Cried. ;)

Posted By george : December 22, 2014 11:42 pm

“Maybe on a double bill with The Day the Clown Cried. ;)”

I’d prefer a triple bill with THE GREAT DICTATOR and TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE. And maybe the Three Stooges’ YOU NAZTY SPY as a curtain-raiser.

Uh oh, I forgot: Paramount has told theaters they can’t show TEAM AMERICA. Some theaters wanted to book it as a replacement for THE INTERVIEW. Darn!

Posted By robbushblog : January 2, 2015 8:32 am

I have my copy of Dr. Syn: Alias The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. It’s great. Patrick McGoohan’s voice while masked is terrifying!

Posted By thomas killian : March 17, 2015 11:37 pm

what happened to darby ogill changed all the lead actors voices, bad version, i deleted it at once, run the original.

Posted By Jody F : May 14, 2015 9:22 pm

I LOVED watching Disney nights on TCM the last few months but assume it’s now over as clicking the Disney Vault link has only previous event nights listed. I’m bummed as I adored watching the nature movies (I remember watching them on a reel to reel projector in our one room country school house), the cartoons, and Davy Crockett. Are anymore of these special nights on the horizon?

Posted By robbushblog : May 15, 2015 3:25 pm

It’s an ongoing series, but possibly done once every three or four months, I believe.

Posted By Anita : October 17, 2015 9:34 pm

It’s about time somebody realized that there is nothing on TV anymore that can be enjoyed by everybody.

So, thank you for bring back great programs like the ones from Walt Dsney.

Posted By Anita : October 17, 2015 9:35 pm

I meant Walt Disney.

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