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Dalmatians Pongo (voice of Rod Taylor) and Perdita (voice of Cate Bauer) are the proud parents of 15 adorable puppies, who are kidnapped by Cruella De Vil (voice of Betty Lou Gerson). Cruella is obsessed by all things black and white, and dreams of having a Dalmatian fur coat. Pongo and Perdita leave their comfortable home in search of their puppies, and muster a heroic rescue party through the power of the Twilight Barking. But they find more than their own 15 puppies - there are 99 puppies stashed away by Cruella, which Pongo and Perdita need to shepherd back to their home in London in hazardous wintry conditions.

Review by Louise Keller:
Capturing the essence of Dodie Smith's wonderful children's book, this unforgettable animation is guaranteed to make you smile from start to finish. It's the storytelling and the characters that are in the forefront, with a loving Dalmatian couple (and their human 'pets'), adorable puppies and one of the most memorable villains of all time, Cruella De Vil ('If she doesn't scare you, no evil thing will') who lives for and worships furs. While the story differs a little from the book, the filmmakers cleverly allow us to identify with Pongo (after all, it is his story) with Rod Taylor's perfect voice over narration. At first, it is only the humans who talk (we hear Pongo's thoughts through the narration); by the time the dogs start talking to each other, we have been seduced.

The joys of the film begin from the very first frame, when we meet Pongo mooning through the window of the Regent's Park apartment he shares with his 'Pet' Roger, who is talented as a songwriter, but does not have the drive to find the perfect mate. When he spies Perdita (voice of Cate Bauer) with her lovely owner Anita (Lisa Davis), it is love at first sight. The courtship in the park (for both couples) is delightful and soon there are wedding bells and the promise of cute, spotted puppies.

The house shakes and thunder booms as Cruella makes her dramatic entrance, wearing a full length mink coat, lined in scarlet to match her long gloves, painted lips and cigarette holder. Her shock of black and white hair, parted in the middle is a blueprint for a unique villainess. There are some lovely moments as the puppies are born, notably when Roger resuscitates the 15th little puppy.

The police are powerless when the puppies are kidnapped and it is through the doggie gossip chain 'The Twilight Barking' ('the fastest way to send news') that Pongo and Perdita put out an all dog alert. From the Great Dane at Hampstead to the Old English Sheepdog the news travels fast, enabling the anxious new parents to go to the rescue. I love the idea of the puppies rolling in the soot as a disguise and the notion of them being addicted to television. Their distinctive markings (a black patch over one eye; spots in the shape of a horseshoe) alert us to their names (Patch, Lucky...).

This is one of my favourite animations of all time - and this two-disc platinum edition offers a pack of special features including games and activities 'for the dogs', behind the scenes and documentaries 'for the humans', 101 pop up trivia facts and music video.

Published March 27, 2008; Republished June 30, 2010

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(US, 1961)

VOICES: Rod Taylor, Betty Lou Gerson, Cate Bauer, Lisa Daniels, Ben Wright, Frederick Worlock, Lisa Davis, Martha Wentworth, J. Pat O'Malley

PRODUCER: Walt Disney

DIRECTOR: Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Wolfgang Reitherman

SCRIPT: Bill Peet (Novel by Dodie Smith)


EDITOR: Roy M. Brewer Jr,[BREAK]Donald Halliday

MUSIC: George Bruns


RUNNING TIME: 79 minutes


SPECIAL FEATURES: 2008 RELEASE: Disc 1 - Games and activities, 101 pop up trivia facts for the fan and family, music video. Disc 2 - for the humans (backstage Disney - Making of, Cruella de Vil drawn to be bad), music and more; for 'the dogs' games and activities


DVD RELEASE: March 5, 2008; re-released June 30, 2010

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