I was saddened to hear the news last week that Robert Osborne, TCM’s original host, had passed away. His inviting personality and superior knowledge of film history made the network the success that it is today, without which we wouldn’t have a reason to gather together four times a year to celebrate some of the wonderful productions from the Walt Disney Company. And so I’d like to start this look at this next programming lineup with a sincere thank you to Robert Osborne and all of the wonderful things he has shared with TCM viewers over the years.
On Thursday, March 16th, Treasures from the Disney Vault returns to TCM. Leonard Maltin once again shines a spotlight on the studio’s many animal-themed productions, but first he presents one of the most heartfelt and uplifting films the company has ever produced. This guide will help you decide what to watch and how late you will stay up (or what you’ll set your DVR to record). So get your Pop Secret ready, it’s movie time!
8:00 pm – Good Scouts (1938)
The night begins with a classic Donald Duck short where he is joined by his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Donald is the leader of his Boy Scouts troop on a camping trip in Yellowstone National Park. But since nothing is ever easy for Donald Duck, he struggles to show the boys how to pitch a tent and finds himself the enemy of a wild bear. This short is perfectly on theme with the next film in the evening’s lineup.
Recommendation: This fun short is a perfect way to start the evening and if you’re planning to watch Follow Me, Boys!, this makes a perfect lead-in.
8:15 pm – Follow Me, Boys! (1966)
Disney Legend Fred MacMurray had a successful career prior to his Disney work and if you’ve never seen any of his earlier films, you may not realize just how big of a heartbreaker he was in his youth (for an example, see Double Indemnity). He is best remembered by Disney fans for his roles in The Absent-Minded Professor and The Shaggy Dog and most of his Disney tenure was spent in comedies. But in Follow Me, Boys!, we see him return to his dramatic roots.
Follow Me, Boys! tells the story of how one person’s good dead can have a big impact. After moving to the town of Hickory, where young boys are deemed a nuisance for their rowdy behavior, Lem Siddons (MacMurray) starts a Boy Scouts troop to impress a pretty banker, played by Vera Miles. But it’s the way he changes the life of a troubled youth, played by a young Kurt Russell, that has a reverse impact on his life as well.
While Follow Me, Boys! is a wonderful film, there are just a few aspects that have prevented it from reaching the same classic status as the greats like Old Yeller or The Parent Trap. At just over 2 hours in length, the film loses focus towards the end with a new troop engaged in Boy Scout fun that has little to do with the rest of the picture. But the performances are top notch, particularly from young Russell, and the emotional element is more raw and real than Disney films are known to allow, even by today’s standards.
Rcommendation: This is a must-see film, especially if you love Fred MacMurray and Kurt Russell’s Disney work.
10:30 pm – The Hound that Thought He was a Raccoon (1960)
This episode of The Wonderful World of Color follows the story of a puppy who gets lost in the woods and is raised by a mother raccoon. Nubbin has a lot of fun adventures with his raccoon mom, Mala, but soon gets lost again with his raccoon brother, Weecha. When his former master finds Nubbin, he is trained to be a hunting dog, but years later he comes across his former family and has a tough choice to make.
Narrated by Rex Allen and produced by Winston Hibler, this hour-long TV movie feels like a close relative of both the True-Life Adventures and the narrated animal movies that became a hallmark for Disney in the 1960’s. And the plot is somewhat similar to the animated feature, The Fox and the Hound, which was produced almost twenty years later.
Recommendation: If you love Disney’s animal movies of the 1960’s, this is another cute one. If you’re just looking for an example of this type of film, this is a shorter one to try first.
11:30 pm – Chip & Dale Shorts (1949-1951)
Next up is a trio of shorts starring Chip & Dale. In All in a Nutshell (1949), Donald Duck sets up a roadside peanut butter stand that looks like a giant nutshell. But when Chip and Dale happen upon what they perceive to be the world’s largest nut, they work on finding a way to crack it open, unintentionally disturbing the cantankerous duck inside.
Also from 1949 is Winter Storage, which finds Chip & Dale living in Donald’s backyard. Fall is coming to an end and the two are working hard to store enough nuts for winter. But when Donald finds their winter storage and decides to steal it for himself, they must find a way to outsmart him to get their nuts back.
Out of Scale from 1951 is a nod to Walt Disney’s own backyard train. When Donald adds a miniature locomotive addition to his backyard, he chops down the tree where Chip & Dale live. However, they won’t give up their home without a fight, making it difficult for Donald to make a perfect scale miniature world for his train.
Recommendation: These shorts are classic Donald Duck fun and it’s not often that you get to binge watch Chip & Dale. Don’t miss this second animated portion of the night.
The night is still young. Continue to the next page to see the rest of the evening’s lineup.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.