For my first article, I thought I’d touch on a part of the 80s that no one quite knows about, yet if you mention a couple of details about it, it’ll flood your memory all over again. Our story begins with a simple request…
“Come on Home where your good friends are waiting, everything’s shiny and new. Come where excitement is playing…Walt Disney And You…”
Chances are, if you know the above lyrics; then odds are more than likely that at one point in your childhood, you were exposed to a video cassette produced by “Walt Disney Home Video (Previously and Currently “Home Entertainment”)” produced in the early to mid 1980s (For those who don’t know, those tapes feature an opening graphic of a wire frame silhouette of Mickey Mouse rotating and changing colors)
(quite trippy in retrospect).
Immediately following almost every one of the tapes in question would be a 5 minute trailer (2 ½ minutes on the “Cartoon Classics” videos) of almost all of the movies that Disney has ever made…OK, I do embellish, but trust me, there’s a lot of them. After the 1st opening lyric, an announcer tells us what we have in store for us: To follow along with the below, I would recommend following along with the Video itself from Youtube (What don’t they have?) through the following link:
I couldn't get it to link properly, so you'll have to do a cut 'n paste job in that new window.
Just be sure to open in a new window so you can read and watch at the same time. I’d put in stills, except I don’t have the technology to rip some straight from the video itself…I’m lazy that way. And so we begin on the opening line above and the following things: Mickey Mouse & Friends busting down a Door, The Bed in “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” beginning to teleport, Herbie “The Love Bug” in his pre “Fully Loaded” days, bouncing on a lake, and Mary Poppins famously sliding up a Banister.
ANNOUNCER: “Come Home to all of your favorite friends…Mickey! (With Top Hat and Dancing Gloves.) Donald! (Kicking a tree and hurting his foot.) Goofy! (Getting hit in the head by a wooden plank with his nose popping out—less gross than you think it is.) Herbie! (Driving through heavy oncoming traffic…flawlessly!) Alice! (In Wonderland, Shrunk down to the size of a “Drink Me” bottle, exclaiming “Goodness!”) Winnie The Pooh! (As a “Little black rain cloud, of course”.) Mary Poppins! (Famously coming down on her umbrella) Pollyanna! (Who has a “Stubby Little Nose” according to one onlooker.) And Many More!” (“Pete’s Dragon” assuming the role of “…And Many More”, spouting gibberish and disappearing in a Magic poof!)
From there, we move on to a montage of Disney Heroes (read: Zorro, Davy Crockett, and the underappreciated Condorman, “Disney’s Spy in the Sky”.) and long forgotten Villains…What’s interesting about the Villain segment are three things. Number one being the great “Condorman” line “He is NOT an AGENT of the CIA, He is a WRITER OF COMIC BOOKS”. Number two is the fact that Bill Cosby is the Devil—In a movie, that is (“Wanna Light?”). And Three, Ken Berry getting hit by a lobster and then falling into a marina…How that fits into the “Villain” category, I’ll have to find out later. Next, the announcer tells us that we’re invited to enter a world of… Excitement:
Cue “Condorman” theme once again and various explosions on water.Suspense:
The infamous unseen alternate ending to “The Watcher in The Woods” (“What Did You See?!”). More explosions commence.Surprise:
The classic Flying Car in “The Absent-Minded Professor” driving on a building side.(INSERT STILL FROM 1955 DONALD DUCK/CHIP 'N DALE CARTOON "UP A TREE" HERE)And Laughter:
Donald Duck Falling from a tree with Chip n’ Dale watching…Isn’t that hilarious to see someone fall to their doom?
A World Of Tenderness:
And speaking of falling to one’s (non) doom, here we have the scene where Pollyanna is bedridden after said event, and the housekeeper says how much a part of everyone’s lives Pollyanna is. Touching, no? Fear:
The good times keep on coming with a clip from “Escape to Witch Mountain” where the little girl tries to convince her brother to…get this…Escape from witch Mountain! Adventure:
Nothing says adventurous like A Clip from “The Black Hole” that’s nothing more than a (Complex for it’s time) swirling computer graphic…Of all the scenes from that movie, they go ahead and choose one with the seamingly least amount of action in it…make you think, doesn’t it? They should’ve used a clip from “Tron”, that’s all I’m saying. And Music:
Worst Segue Ever! To go from “The Black Hole” to the “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” scene in Mary Poppins is nothing short of a head scratcher. Even more of a head scratcher is the fact that Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious didn’t get picked up as an error on my Microsoft Word Spell Checker. Oh the times, they have-a-changed.And More Laughter:
“Get Him, That Shaggy Dog just stole My Car!”And More Music:
Some lady singing in “The Devil & Max Devlin” and then Satan himself…Ur, “Bill Cosby, Himself” telling us in a sly way “That’s Just the Way You Like ‘em!” It’s Magic:
From here on out, it just gets stranger. Starting with a scene from Darby O’Gill & The Little People” involving a pot of gold appearing in thin air and horses running to/away from something (Sean Connery must’ve kissed the Blarney Stone a little too hard to do this one). It’s Fright-en-ing (Actual Pronunciation):
Scene from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (60,000 miles for those who think the metric system is a load of crap) where the crew fight some sort of monster…thing. It’s Cute:
Winnie The Pooh affirming that he’s a “little black rain cloud, of course” (Silly Old Bear!)It’s Fun:
A bunch of old timey people (Including one guy who looks like a combination of a young Kurt Russell and Jon Davidson) dancing around. Don’t know which movie that came from off the top of my head, so no picture. And It’ll take you by Surprise:
Some guy throws something at a device that sends Don Knotts (R.I.P.) up a pipe and out of sight.
After all of that is said and done, we are now “Ready for the Disney Lineup”, but not before two cowboys from “Hot Lead & Cold Feet” keep asking if they’re ready. After a little bit of that, we’re ready for the campiest disco-esque music ever heard, and a rapid fire montage of just about every Disney film known to even the most novice of fans…even the ones that were made just for video (“A Dream called Walt Disney World”, Anybody?). After that, they bring it home by repeating the lyrics (Though they've changed by this point) at the top of this article, accompanied by more Disney Characters dancing around. At the very end, we’re all reminded about the purpose of this commercial. That all of the stuff you just saw was now available from Walt Disney Home Video (Where “The Magic Lives On”), at which point Tigger thought that it was “grrrrrrrrrrreat”, only to be sucked up into a space background…By “The Black Hole”, perhaps? Or maybe Tony the Tiger had something to do with it, who knows. Either way, it was an odd way to end a commercial.
All of the above took exactly 5 minutes and 13 seconds (According to Youtube timing) to display, try doing a 5+ minute movie trailer in this day and age, and you’ll have people leaving the theatres in impatience. Thankfully, we had the fast forward button for this case. But that’s aside the point. Also it should be noted that in the 2 ½ minute version, all the stuff about the Heroes and Villains are cut out, as is the stuff about Tenderness, fear, Adventure, Magic, Fright-en-ing-ness, and Cuteness. But the message stayed the same for the most part.
Long before the Walt Disney Company became the “Company with a Heart” we all know and loathe today, they were actually quite creative in the number of side projects (I.e. Non-Motion Pictures) that they had going for themselves back then. The Home Video Market was fairly new, people needed a way to convince what few people there were out there who had video tape machines to keep getting video tapes, Which was a feat in itself because early machines cost about $1,000 while licensed motion picture cassettes (As opposed to blank ones) cost somewhere in the area of $100 PER TAPE! (No Joke!) In my own personal opinion, it was this 5+ minute trailer for Disney that helped spawn the supply and demand factor that eventually drove the cost of VHS and their machines down to a far more reasonable price. The same could be said for DVDs when they first started out.
I consider this commercial Propaganda at its best because when you really get right down to it, seeing clips from various films which happens to be from one company, and one company only is propaganda. And I say that it’s “At its best” because unlike other propaganda out there, this trailer isn’t trying to convince you to join certain political parties/religious groups, etc. This was just to convince a person to buy movies, that’s all, nothing else …and bear in mind, this was WAY before the Current Era of Direct to Video Sequels that I personally wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole made out of Chocolate and Gold, These were actual Good Movies. Hell, after seeing a trailer like that, I’m willing to get the whole lot of them. (And I know ebay has a bunch of the vintage tapes out there, so I won’t rule out that possibility).
In closing, this trailer was a good example of over the top advertising that the 1980s was famous for. And the real shame about seeing this spot online is about how they don't make a good advertisement like that anymore. Most 80s commercials could convince anyone to buy anything, even if it was a product that nobody needed. If ever there was an example of that, it was “Walt Disney and You”.