The London of Disney’s One Hundred And One Dalmatians

The London of Disney’s One Hundred And One Dalmatians

I love seeing depictions of London in old movies. Last night, flicking sleepily through TV channels, I stumbled across One Hundred And One Dalmations, the 1961 Walt Disney animation movie (rather than the 1996 live action remake), based on Dodie Smith‘s 1956 novel of the same name.

There’s something very romantic about struggling songwriter Roger Radcliffe living in his bachelor pad near Regent’s Park with just his spotty dog, Pongo, for company. There’s something even more romantic about Pongo, bored with this state of double singledom, successfully finding a suitable mate for them both: Anita (human) and Perdita (canine).

Soon, Perdita and Pongo have produced a litter of 15 puppies, and after these are stolen by a pair of cockney villains on the orders of fur freak Cruella De Vil, the dogs decide to deploy the “twilight bark”, a trans-London communications arrangement involving much barking and howling. Soon, a comrade in Hampstead is alerted to the two Dalmatians’ plight…

See those West End lights (and see if you can put a name to any streets…). Love that Hampstead “arty type” and the closing skyline shot. The cockney villains were voiced by Frederick Warlock, a London-born Californian who had previously appeared in long string of films, and J.Pat O’Malley, originally from Burnley, who had also moved to the US many years earlier. He too racked up a big list of movie credits and would later become the voice of both the elephant Colonel Hathi and one of those bored, Beatle-esque Scouse vultures in Disney’s The Jungle Book. At one point in Dalmations, one of the crooks uses a bit of rhyming slang I don’t recall ever hearing before, probably a bit of Hollywood invention. I now can’t remember it and am kicking myself for not writing it down. I might have to buy the DVD.


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