I love double feature-movie days. The only happens rarely anymore because I usually have 40 trillion errands to run on the weekends but I love spending half a day watching movies.
This is especially fun to do in LA though because pretty much everything shows in LA, including a lot of special event older screenings, so I know I can always find any combination I want. Sometimes it’s back-to-back rom-coms, or I’ll pick two really opposite movies like a kids movie (often the case, don’t judge!) with a horror movie (ok, that one is rare, if ever.)
This weekend though, it was all about Disney.
First, D23 is sponsoring these awesome “50 and Fabulous” screenings on the Disney Studio Lot. Anyone who knows me knows that is my happy place/homeland and so I was VERY excited to get to go to this.
Classic lot icon. I would maybe pull a John Stamos and put this in my front lawn, if I had a front lawn.
They were screening “Toby Tyler” (whose alternate/sub title based on the opening credits is “or Ten Weeks at the Circus”) at their newly update lot theater, which is GORGEOUS. I got to see Princess and the Frog there too, because I am just that much of a geek.
The newly restored Fantasia Theater on the lot
In the new pretty theater, with other Disney nerds.
There were a lot of people there, which was nice to know I’M NOT ALONE IN MY NERDINESS. I’m actually not even that up there on the Disney nerd-scale. Which is surprising, and sometimes a little scary. It probably helped that a lot of these D23 screenings are FREE (with membership). It’s pretty great.
You know what else is pretty great? This old movie. In it, a young orphan runs away from his Aunt and mean Uncle to join the circus, and he becomes best friends with a clown, the strong man, and a monkey he names Mr. Stubbs. Toby starts out as the concessionaire helper, but then another performer gets hurt and he has to learn to be a Rosin-back rider! That is a form of bareback horse riding, where you stand or perform tricks on the horse.
It is INTENSE. The movie also tries to make you cry when something bad happens to Mr. Stubbs. But I won’t spoil the outcome here.
Kevin Corcoran, who played Toby in the movie, made a special guest appearance at the screening and told everyone all about Rosin-back, and how the strong man (Henry Calvin) actually started in entertainment as an opera singer.
Then he was really nice and signed DVDs and took pictures.
Kevin Corcoran (Toby Tyler) & Me
Now, this would have been an epic movie day, all by itself.
HOWEVER. This was also the opening weekend for a documentary called Waking Sleeping Beauty. Directed by Disney vet Don Hahn, it tells the story of Walt Disney Feature Animation studio from 1984 (when they were coming off “flop” The Black Cauldron, and having serious creative issues) through their renaissance period of the 80s and 90s through The Lion King. The movie ends right around Frank Wells death, and Jeffrey Katzenberg’s exit from Disney.
Waking Sleeping Beauty is essentially a lot of old interviews and home movie footage, with new commentary over the pictures/video (aka no talking heads! yay!) and is both funny and poignant. Also, AWESOME.
It was a really really well crafted documentary, and I recommend it even to non-Disney-nerds (if those exist?!?) when it opens in your area.
Right now it’s only in limited release, or about 5 theaters.
The best part is when the entire animation department does a full-scale re-enaction of Apocalypse Now. I haven’t even seen that movie, and it was hilarious.
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