101 Dalmatians (Buena Vista) is one of the nicest things that have happened so far this year to dog's best friend: a full-length (80 minutes) animutted curtoon that should please just about everybody but cats and will probably make the youngsters yap-happy. It is the wittiest, most charming, least pretentious cartoon feature Walt Disney has ever made.
Based on a beast-seller by Dodie Smith, the picture took three years to produce, cost $4,000,000, soaked up 800 gallons of paint, and during the passage of its 101 Dalmatians through 113,700 frames of film, places exactly 6,469,952 (count 'em) spots before the moviegoer's eyes. But it is the tale that wags the picture.
Hero and Heroine, Pongo and Perdita, after several months of dogmestic bliss, produce a litter of 15 purebred Dalmatian pups. Fate, the hound, decrees that all their troubles shall not be little ones. The pups are promptly dognaped by a couple of unmitigated curs in the employ of Cruella de Vil, a wicked wealthy witch who intends to slaughter the dogs, strip off their pelts and make herself a beautiful Dalmatian coat.
The news gives all dogdom paws. At the daily "twilight bark," an "All Dog Alert" goes out: Where oh where have those little dogs gone? They have gone, it seems, to join 84 other puppies in Cruella de Vil's Dalmatian Extermination Location, where they successfully and hilariously dodge the executioners until yelp arrives.
Disney, of course, mixes plenty of sugar with his Ken-L-Ration, and at times the background music sounds suspiciously like Poochini. But, on the whole, the show is more fun than a barrelful of puppies and will undoubtedly sell like pupcorn in the local fleatraps.