Legacy Content

Toon Talk: True-Life Adventures DVDs
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(c) Disney

Volume III - “Creatures of the Wild?

“Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!? is apparently the mantra for disc 1, beginning with The African Lion (1955), the Milotte’s magnum opus. The couple spent three years on the “dark continent? collecting some breath-taking footage of all that call the savannah their home (later inspiring both The Lion King and Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise ride), most notably the king of the jungle himself - although the elephants (who almost starred in a companion feature, The African Elephant) nearly upstage them.

Jungle Cat (1960) was the last TLA and certainly its grimmest chapter. We find ourselves in the midst of Brazil’s rainforest region, eye to eye with the “greatest hunter of them all?, the South American jaguar. Yes, the so-called “villain? is center stage this time out, and there is a lot of bloodshed (seemingly more then all the other films combined), so I wouldn’t recommend this one to younger viewers. However, it is surely the most thrilling of all the TLAs and offers plenty of gorgeous scenery and comedic monkeys.

In contrast, Bear Country (1953) is accessible to all, for it is a delightful vacation to Yellowstone National Park to see the American Black Bear, a playful species despite their fierceness. This Oscar-winning short also features the series’ most hilarious moments (see “Top 10? side bar) and a tear-jerker of an ending. Another, lesser TLA short, Olympic Elk (1952), is bumped to disc 2. A look at the Pacific Northwest elk and their migratory and mating habits, this one is hampered by choppy editing and an obvious “storyline?. Even the “villain? of the piece, a bear, doesn’t appear to want to be there.

Both from Disneyland, the anthology shows here are “Cameras in Africa? (1954), about, of course, the Milotte’s filming of The African Lion (here it is revealed the fate of that rhino trapped in the mud pit), while “The Yellowstone Story? (1957) tells the history of the location for Bear Country. A “Disney Family Album? (narrated by Buddy Ebsen) offers a “Tribute to the Milottes?, while Roy’s DAK-stage visit takes him into a live cheetah medical exam, along with a trip to see the park’s elephants.

In the “Filmmakers’ Journals?, Elma Milotte recounts some close encounters with bears and elephants, and Roy discusses how each film was constructed from all those miles of footage. Fans of “Yesterdayland? will want to check out this “Collectors’ Corner?, which delves into the long gone Disneyland attraction “Nature’s Wonderland?, which recreated memorable scenes from the TLAs. And speaking of memorable scenes …

True-Life Adventures:
The Top 10 Most Amazing Moments:

With everything from the Discovery Channel to YouTube, there isn’t a lot the average viewer hasn’t seen these days … at least until you watch these eye-popping scenes:

  1. The nerve-racking climax of Jungle Cat has momma and poppa jaguar taking on a boa constrictor in a fight to the death.
  2. In The Vanishing Prairie, marvel at a fawn’s near miss when a mountain lion strolls by.
  3. Witness the bizarre migratory ritual that sends hordes of lemmings literally to the ends of the Earth in White Wilderness.
  4. A mother wasp takes on the mighty tarantula in the signature sequence from The Living Desert.
  5. In rare footage (even for today) of a wolverine, see how your favorite X-Man lives up to his namesake in White Wilderness.
  6. The sequence showing a baby buffalo calf being born resulted in The Vanishing Prairie being banned in Boston upon its original release.
  7. Also from The Vanishing Prairie:  from the prairie dog’s point of view, watch as a hungry hawk heads in for the kill.
  8. The first unstaged live lioness kill ever caught on film is seen in The African Lion when the deadly queen of the jungle tackles a wayward wildebeest.
  9. A pack of javelinas chase a bobcat up a prickly saguaro, resulting in another memorable sight from The Living Desert.
  10. One of the first examples of time-lapse photography is set to the tune of Paul Smith’s “Bolero?-like flower blooming suite in Secrets of Life.