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Walt Disney Treasures: The Mickey Mouse Club Presents Annette

 

(Charles Lamont, 1958)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Walt Disney Studios

Disney DVD

 

Disc:

Region: 1, NTSC

Runtime: 286 min

Chapters: 19

Size: Dual-layered

Case: Oversize DVD case in Disney Treasure Tin.

Release date: November 11th, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 480p

Video codec:

 

Audio:

English 2.0 Dolby

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH) yellow

 

 

Extras:

• Introduction by Leonard Maltin

• Featurette (1993/2008): Musically Yours: Interviews by Annette, Paul Anka, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian. (12:00)

• Documentary: To Annette, With Love: A newly produced tribute to everyone’s favorite Mouseketeer (16:05)

• The Mickey Mouse Club: The first and last episodes (1955 & 1958)

 

 

 

The Film:

When Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Club first aired in 1955 - not coincidentally a few months after the opening of the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California – Tracy Turnblad and her friends would not have been welcome. The original Mousketeers were all very much of similar stock save one: a peculiarly dark-haired ethnic Italian girl that would come to be the most popular of the gang: Annette Funicello. Annette was just 13 when she joined as an original cast member. She was to have her own series during the third season of the Mickey Mouse Club, which is the subject of this DVD. After the show closed in 1959, Annette went
on to considerable success as a teen idol in a number of Beach Party movies with Frankie Avalon from 1963-65 and where she looked considerably, hmm, healthier, much to Walt's embarrassment, I'm sure.

 

 


The Mickey Mouse Club started life as a one-hour program airing just before dinner for many folks. In its third season the show was cut back to a half hour, during which one its trademark serials were featured. "The Mickey Mouse Club Presents: Annette" was a 19 episode serial (plus a sort of pilot, introduced by Mouseketeer Karen who mispronounces Annette's last name, that
highlights the first several episodes). The serial was broadcast as a ten and a half minute segment of the twenty-two minute daily show, running five days a week from February 11-March 7, 1958.

Annette Funicello plays Annette McCloud, a poor, orphaned country girl who moves into town with her upper-class aunt and uncle. Most of the plot is concerned with her trying to fit in and make friends with her new schoolmates, the most popular of whom, Laura Rogan, in thinly veiled jealousy, does everything she can to undermine Annette's success. I don't remember if they actually go to class, but they get a lot of mileage from the local soda fountain. Annettte says in the show that she – her character – is 15, which she was.

The cast includes Richard Deacon as Uncle Archie McCloud, Sylvia Field as Aunt Lila McCloud, and the irrepressible Mary Wickes as Katie the housekeeper. Tim Considine & David Stollery (the stars of Spin & Marty, where Annette had a part on several episodes) are Annette's friends. Jymme Shore is Laura. Lillie Hayward (who also worked on Spin and Marty) adapted the series from the book Margaret by Janette Sebring Lowrey.

Like the Mickey Mouse Club and its host, songwriter and ringleader, Jimmie Dodd, Annette's serial is an expression of Walt Disney's determination to form solid 1950s moral values in children, lessons that are not at all embarrassing today.

 

Image:

The DVD is presented in glorious academy ratio B&W – and an excellent image it is, with very little signs of wear and tear for the serial epiosodes. The segment of the entire MMC show that introduces the Annette serial is in slightly less good shape, especially the closing number for the show, tending to lose greyscale. The two main bonus features are derived from many sources, including photo and movie scrapbooks, and are unapologetic about their pedigree.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music:

Disney made certain that dialogue and music were presented clearly and without fuss. This is nicely preserved in your basic 2 channel mono.

 

 

 

 

Operations:

The menus are Simple and unremarkable. On the other hand, I have to say that these Walt Disney Treasure Tins are among the least user friendly ideas to come along the home video front. At least in the present case, you can take the enclosed DVD case out of the tin and file it. The problem with the tin is that it has no identification on the spine, so what should we do with it?

 

Extras:

There are a total of three Mickey Mouse Club shows in their entirety. The very first and final shows from 1955 and 1958 respectively and the one that introduced Annette's 19 part serial. Bonus materials include a mini-documentary featuring Annette, Paul Anka, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian. The longer documentary on Disc 2: To Annette, With Love, is especially worth watching as it presents a lovely, if sentimental, tribute to Annette's career and personal struggles. Leonard Maltin's Introduction shows him to have a special fondness and appreciation for these times and Annette Funicello's contribution to them.

 

 

Bottom line: 8
Recommended for its time capsule nostalgia value, of which this Disney Treasure has in abundance. An excellent and new documentary about Annette Funicello, plus three complete Mickey Mouse Club shows round out this well-produced 2-DVD tin.

Leonard Norwitz
November 8, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 





 

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