Friday, March 11, 2011

Cruella in Better Days

I rarely write anything in advance or plan posts here to appear in a certain order, but sometimes they line up serendipitously. Like today’s. It shares some territory with what I wrote yesterday about the difference between my favorite Twilight Zone episode and the short story that inspired it. Shortly after it went up, I saw a post on 2719 Hyperion — a Disney nostalgia blog that makes for a great read, even if Disney isn’t necessarily your thing — about the translation of Dodie Smith’s book The One Hundred and One Dalmatians to the animated Disney movie. Quite a bit grew, changed and vanished between one and the other, but what stood out most to me was how badly the animators beat ol’ Cruella De Vil with the ugly stick. Check her out as she appeared in what I think is the book’s original illustrations:

Crazy, right?

While you can’t argue that the Disney version of Cruella isn’t iconic, I actually prefer the hot flapper version of the character over the skunk-haired corpse. It’s obvious when the evil-looking person actually is evil. A story about the hollowness of vanity might have benefitted from a villain who is superficially attractive (if in a very of-the-era way) but whose insides are fuggo-nastiness. You know, like attractive people in real life.

Bonus: Did you know that Dodie Smith wrote a sequel to The Hundred and One Dalmatians titled The Starlight Barking about all the humans in the world falling under a magical trance and a space dog named Lord Sirius offering to beam all earth-canines away to be spared the ravages of an oncoming nuclear war? No, of course you didn’t know that.

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