TCM reopens the ‘Disney Vault’ for a night of treats
The Walt Disney Company certainly has enough of its own television outlets – which it increased recently by buying much of Fox – but Turner Classic Movies still favors the Disney studio’s past.
The film channel presents recurring “Treasures From the Disney Vault,” with entire evenings of Disney titles as veteran movie historian and critic Leonard Maltin appears between the features with relevant facts. TCM has another such night Tuesday, June 25, merging several genres for which Disney is known best.
One is suspense, as indicated by the first movie in the lineup: “The Moon-Spinners” (1964), based on a Mary Stewart novel and casting Hayley Mills – who was one of the studio’s top stars at the time – as an adventurous young visitor to Crete who’s drawn into danger by a handsome stranger (Peter McEnery, who would be Disney’s “Fighting Prince of Donegal” two years later). Eli Wallach also appears as a mysterious man who means trouble for Mills, setting up a memorable sequence in which she has to escape from an active windmill.
Suspense also plays into another 1964 Disney release that TCM will show overnight, “Emil and the Detectives.” Also a Disney regular of that era, Bryan Russell plays Emil, a German youngster who is robbed during a bus trip and sets out to recover the stolen money ... leading him to a criminal known as The Baron (Walter Slezak) and a group of young amateur sleuths who help Emil.
The drama “The Littlest Horse Thieves” (1976) also relies heavily on youthful performers. Three early-20th-century British children (Andrew Harrison, Benjie Bolgar, Chloe Franks) unite to save ponies used to haul coal, but destined to be replaced by machines – and slaughtered.
Comedy has its places during the TCM Disney night, too. “The North Avenue Irregulars” (1979) casts Barbara Harris, Susan Clark, Karen Valentine and Cloris Leachman as church members who resort to unorthodox means – a.k.a. gambling – to replenish the new minister’s (Edward Herrmann) fund. And later, “Never a Dull Moment” (1968) finds Disney favorite Dick Van Dyke as an actor mistaken for a murderer, with Edward G. Robinson cast to perfection as an underworld kingpin.
Another category for which Disney is renowned surely is animation, and the latest “Treasures From the Disney Vault” roster includes a couple of examples. “Bone Bandit” (1948) sets the beloved hound Pluto against a bothersome gopher, and “The Robber Kitten” (1935) is a “Silly Symphonies” entry about a runaway cat that messes with the wrong dog.
As the title of its weekly TV showcase used to suggest, Disney has put forth a wonderful world of entertainment, and TCM and “Treasures From the Disney Vault” are about to reaffirm that again.
Leonard Maltin hosts a night of “Treasures From the Disney Vault” Tuesday on Turner Classic Movies.