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The Reluctant Dragon

The Reluctant Dragon(1941)

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At the urging of his wife, humorist Robert Benchley visits the Walt Disney Studio to meet Disney and show him a children's book he believes might make a good cartoon story, Kenneth Grahame's The Reluctant Dragon . At the studio, Benchley is met by Humphrey, an eager young tour guide, but is so annoyed by Humphrey's overbearing manner that he sneaks away. Hoping for a glimpse of a pretty model, Benchley slips into a drawing class where artists are sketching a live model, but soon discovers the subject is an elephant. Leaving the class, Benchley wanders onto a sound stage where music is being recorded. He settles back to hear an operatic duet sung by Florence Gill and Clarence Nash, without realizing at first that they provide the voices for cartoon characters Clara Cluck and Donald Duck. After congratulating the performers, Benchley learns how to imitate Donald Duck's voice, but his lesson is interrupted by the unwelcome appearance of Humphrey. Benchley soon escapes into the sound effects department, where he sees some of the devices used to create various sounds and watches as music and sound effects are recorded to accompany an animated scene of "Casey Jr.," the train in Dumbo . Next Benchley stumbles into the camera department, where he views a forest scene through a multiplane camera and then investigates the workings of a regular camera table. Here he is shown how cels are laid in succession over a painted background, and drawings of Donald Duck "come to life" on the camera table to explain how the photographic process works. Still trying to avoid Humphrey, Benchley learns the functions of the paint and model departments. He then finds himself in the story department, where artists show him their drawings and story boards for a new cartoon entitled "Baby Weems," in which a newborn baby speaks fluent English and becomes a celebrity when he reveals himself to be a genius. Benchley then strays into the animation department and observes artists creating the illusion of movement in their drawings. The artists then treat him to an impromptu Moviola viewing of a recently completed cartoon, "How to Ride a Horse," in which Goofy attempts to demonstrate correct equestrian form. Apprehended once again by Humphrey, Benchley concludes his "tour" of the studio by meeting Disney in a screening room where the staff has gathered to watch the studio's latest short film, "The Reluctant Dragon." The cartoon tells the story of a dragon who would rather recite poetry and sip tea then ravage the countryside, the young boy who befriends him, and Sir Giles, an agreeable knight sent to slay him. After viewing the film, Benchley is driven home by his wife, who upbraids him for being so slow in taking the story to Disney. Benchley demonstrates that his studio visit has not been wasted, however, when he turns on his wife and furiously squawks at her in the voice of Donald Duck.