Disney Animated Classics: A Great Christmas Tradition Part One

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Since the first Disney animated film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” premiered on December 21, 1937, there have been various release dates for animated classics. My personal favorite tradition for Disney releases is always around this time of year. I have great memories of going to the theater to see these great films going back into my youth.

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November 18, 1988 saw the release of “Oliver and Company”, an animal adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist”. I remember Thanksgiving of that year when myself and a large contingent of my family loaded into the cars and headed out to a small theater nearby (which has since become a Family Dollar store” to view the film. I remember being excited about Billy Joel playing a role, since I was a fan of some of his hits at the time. This was also the first time I was allowed to watch anything involving Cheech Marin.

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The following year, on November 19, 1989, the Disney Animation Renaissance was kicked into high gear with “The Little Mermaid.” I was very excited to see this film, and I remember standing in a book store reading small picture book giving the highlights of the movie. Alas, there was no Thanksgiving day pile into the cinema for a Disney film tradition continuance. I didn’t see this movie until it was released on VHS later. I sat and watched it twice in a row when we rented it. This movie is still one of my favorites.

There was a great DuckTales movie released that summer, but it’s not in the tradition of the Disney classic animated film, so I’ll move on to November 16, 1990.

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“The Rescuers Down Under” came out on the heels of an American love of all things Australian garnered by such films as “Crocodile Dundee” and I didn’t know what to make of it, having not seen the classic “The Rescuers” at that time. I now own both on Blu-Ray and the opening to “The Rescuers” contains a song that goes for the emotional punch of your average PIXAR movie.

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Next came the mind-blowing “Beauty and the Beast” on November 22, 1991. My best friend Phillip (Lost Boy Phillip for all of you Neverlanders out there) and I were very excited for this film. I remember how he brought a VHS tape to church to show me a music video featuring Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson singing the title song. When that film came to theaters, my brother and I hit the local mall to attend different movies. I don’t even remember what he went in to see, but I remember being completely enchanted by this masterpiece. There had been no indication to me that this storm was coming, but by the end of the film, the ground was buried in deep snow. It made the whole experience more magical, especially since I wasn’t the one driving.

“Beauty and the Beast” holds the honor of the only animated feature to be nominated by Best Picture by the Motion Picture Academy, and it really deserved to win in my opinion. However, because of an Academy that was not ready to give such an honor to something that wasn’t made in the traditional sense, “Silence of the Lambs” took home the honor, and the category of Best Animated Feature was created.

There are more films to remember in this series so keep reading, Neverlanders!

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