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Ruminations: Disney, Lists and the AFI

Ruminations: Disney, Lists and the AFI

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Well, the AFI is at it again. American Film Institute, that is.

Tuesday night we were mistreated to the recent incarnation of the AFI Top 100 list. This time, it was the Top 100 Quotes from U.S. films. Previously, it has been everything from Top 100 Songs to Top 100 Love Scenes.

While one might applaud the efforts as an attempt to lure folks beyond the new release aisle at the local video store, I for one have to wonder just what it is that the AFI folks have against Disney and the films of its various divisions.

For example, this list of quotes… Only one Disney movie, actually a Touchstone picture, made the list, at Number 95.

"Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary," "Dead Poets Society," 1989.

Okay, a good line, and worthy of recognition. From my little corner of the Internet, placed about right where it belongs on that list. But to make that the only Disney movie quote? Perhaps someone has been breathing too many exhaust fumes while stuck in traffic on the Santa Monica Freeway…

Recall if you will how I took exception to a previous list, the Top 100 Songs. The concept of recognizing these moments from our film heritage is a good one. No argument from me on that point.

Where I stand opposed, however, is in the final choices. I’ll give one prominent example. How could you look at movie quotes and not recognize Bugs Bunny’s immortal introduction of "What’s up, Doc?" If you want to show how the efforts of screenwriters have become such a part of our culture, used every day by millions of folks, wouldn’t you think that the rabbit’s catch phrase would be there? Well???

Obviously, not for the folks at the AFI. Frankly, I can’t explain or understand the reasoning why what made the cut did or did not.

So, in an effort to rectify the seemingly intentional exclusion of Disney films from the list, I offer ten lines from the vaults in Burbank, worthy of note.

In no particular order…

"Hakuna Matata."
"The Lion King" (1994)

"A dream is a wish your heart makes when you're fast asleep."
"Cinderella" (1950)

"You can keep doing that forever, the dog is never going to move."
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl" (2003)

"Mary Poppins" (1964)

"Man was in the forest."
"Bambi" (1942)

"Magic Mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?"
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937)

"Ohana means family, family means nobody gets left behind. Or forgotten."
"Lilo & Stitch" (2002)

"You are a toy!"
"Toy Story" (1995)

"I'm an action figure!"
"Hercules" (1997)

"When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true."
"Pinocchio" (1940)

While I wouldn’t place any of those in the top 5 of the AFI list, more than a couple should have been among the offerings. As much as I like "Casablanca", it had six entries. Classics, yes, but pick one, please. Let’s recognize as many films as we can here!

And now, the AFI is at it again, with the Top 100 Film Scores. Nominations for 250 films to be reduced to 100 and then the top 25 will have selections performed at an event at the Hollywood Bowl in September. As a movie soundtrack fan with more than my fair share of these on compact disc, this one peaks my interest a bit more than the prior manifestations. Looking over the list of the 250 nominations, the question comes up again:

What is it that these folks have against Disney movies?

Out of those 250, only one, "Bambi", is a from a Disney picture. (Actually, that was an RKO release in 1942) Considering that Disney produced the forerunner of the modern stereo soundtrack for films with the Fantasound versions of "Fantasia", this lack of recognition seems somewhat suspect. How is it that a film such as "Mary Poppins" that became such a success with audiences and won an Oscar for Best Score by the Sherman Brothers (in 1964) is not on that list of nominations? Or why is a composer represented more than twice? I understand that the field of composers is not a large one. However, there are many deserving soundtracks that were omitted for reasons unknown. Those from Disney top that list, in my humble opinion.

So, if I were king or at least allowed to offer nominations of film scores, these would have been among my choices from the Disney library:

"Mary Poppins", "Fantasia" , "Cinderella", "The Little Mermaid", "The Lion King", "Pinocchio" and "The Incredibles".

Now that’s not to say that there are other great soundtracks for Disney films (both for live action and animated), but I believe that these stand out in the library. It is too bad that they won’t get the opportunity to be recognized among those selected by AFI.

It should be noted that Disney has enjoyed the talents of many of the composers of those 250 nominated scores. A few examples of note include Henry Mancini (for "The Great Mouse Detective"), Jerry Goldsmith (for "Mulan"), Elmer Bernstein (for "The Black Cauldron"), James Horner (for "The Rocketeer")and Hans Zimmer (for "The Lion King).

While we can hope that the score for "Bambi" survives the cut to make the Top 100 list, it would be even nicer if it were to make it to the Top 25. Then it would be among those performed as part of the program on September 23rd at the Hollywood Bowl for "The Big Picture – AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores" event. Looking at the web page, it should be a great night and seats are still available, though many sections are already sold out, more than three months in advance. The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, under the direction of John Mauceri, will perform selections from those Top 25 scores along with scenes from the films projected on the big screen.

As if we don’t have enough going on this summer…

Roger wants to remind everyone he is still looking for folks to share memories of their first Disneyland visits. It seems that there are some folks (whom Roger will share more about soon) that are looking to hear more from Jim Hill Media readers on this very interesting subject. So don’t be shy, drop Roger a note with your very own tale. That very special prize is still up for grabs and could be yours!

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