Walt Disney's Psychedelic MovieWritten by Stephen Schochet
Chasen's restaurant in old Hollywood was a legendary hangout were movie stars expected to dine in peaceful private booths on barbecued chili without putting up with celebrity gawkers. There were occasional breaks in quiet. Jimmy Stewart's bachelor party was thrown there complete with midgets clad only in diapers jumping out of cakes. Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre got drunk one night and stole restaurant's safe, carrying it out onto street until they were caught. WC Fields once caused his girlfriend Carlotta Monti great anguish by dining at Chasens with another woman. She called up nearby Cedar Sinai Hospital and told them that comedian was having a heart attack, resulting in an ambulance coming to fetch him in middle of dinner. And in 1938 conductor of Philadelphia Orchestra, long haired, flamboyant Leopold Stokowski, in town to carry on a discreet love affair with Greta Garbo, had his dinner interrupted by a note from a waiter saying that Walt Disney wanted to meet him.
The cartoon maker and maestro were surprised that both were fans of each other. As always Walt saw meetings with talent as an opportunity to push creative envelope. In fifteen years of running his animation studio, Disney had used music to supplement gags and stories, now he wanted to reverse formula. While recently attending a symphony at Hollywood Bowl he had been enthralled listening to The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Paul Dukas. What if it were combined with a state of art, twenty minute animated cartoon? It could raise animation to a higher art form and introduce new audiences to classical music who had never appreciated it before. Stokowski loved idea so much he volunteered to conduct it for free. He also suggested several other pieces that could be presented with animation as well. And so Fantasia (1940) was born.
Disney's other reason to make Sorcerer was to save career of Mickey Mouse. A superstitious man, who like many in Hollywood consulted fortune tellers, he felt that if Mickey died, his whole organization would go down with him. The problem was that Mickey like many stars was now type cast. He had gone from being mischievous to bland. It had gotten to point where Walt would get letters of complaint every time little guy would misbehave on screen. He had been surpassed in popularity by mean-spirited but more versatile Donald Duck. Walt also felt that high pitched voice that he himself provided for mouse was not exciting for audiences to hear, his role in Fantasia would be silent. Disney remained Mickey's strongest advocate, despite his artist's suggestions four foot rodent was a dumb character who should be replaced in film by Dopey. Their disdain lead to phrase,"A Mickey Mouse Operation" used to describe things that are second rate.
At that time, flush with huge success of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937) 37-year-old Walt Disney was at height of his creative powers. Visitors to studio were amazed by his boundless energy, they would have more surprised to find out he had suffered a nervous breakdown eight years earlier. His anything is possible attitude carried over to many of his artists who were zany characters to begin with. Working on Fantasia with highbrow types like Stokowski and music critic Deems Taylor, Walt would sometimes feel embarrassed by their immature behavior. Don't be, he was told, Your cartoonists are like elves in Santa's workshop.
Vision Music USA Takes Their Services To The Next LevelWritten by Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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