While not as indelibly enchanting or inspired as some of the studio’s most unforgettable animated endeavors, this is nonetheless a painstaking creative effort. There are some adults for whom 101 – count ’em – dalmatians is about 101 dalmatians too many, but even the most hardened, dogmatic pooch-detester is likely to be amused by several passages in this story.
Bill Peet’s screen yarn, based on the book by Dodie Smith, is set in London and concerned with the efforts of Blighty’s four-legged population to rescue 99 dognapped pups from the clutches of one Cruella De Ville, a chic up-to-date personification of the classic witch. The concerted effort is successful thanks to a canine sleuthing network (‘Twilight Bark’) that makes Scotland Yard an amateur outfit by comparison.
Film purportedly is the $4 million end product of three years of work by some 300 artists. It benefits from the vocal versatility of a huge roster of ‘voice’ talents, including Rod Taylor, J. Pat O’Malley and Betty Lou Gerson. There are three songs by Mel Leven, best and most prominent of which is ‘Cruella De Ville’.