101 Dalmatians (1961) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

This is one of the most popular Disney films of all time. It resulted in a live-action remake in 1996, a sequel to that live-action film in 2000, and even an animated sequel that went straight to DVD in 2002. That film is none other than 101 Dalmatians. Indeed, this story about 101 lovable dogs has endured for decades, and features one of the most iconic Disney villains of all time, Cruella De Vil. This was also one of the last films that Walt Disney supervised personally, and his love for producing family entertainment definitely shines in this enduring animated classic.

A Toast

Given the famous title, the animation in this film is absolutely spectacular. That is because special technology had to be employed in order to make it look as if 101 dalmatians really do appear on the screen. Disney actually had to use a xeroxing technique in order to achieve that effect. It is also worth noting that this film was released two years after the lavishness put forth in the seminal fairy tale film Sleeping Beauty (1959), a film that is somewhat notorious for being one of the most expensive films that Walt Disney produced.

The lengthy six-year production period and $6 million cost of Sleeping Beauty almost bankrupted the studio, which means that 101 Dalmatians almost did not even exist given the complexity of bringing so many animated dogs to life on screen. That effort paid off, though, both literally and figuratively, because it ended up being the highest-grossing film at the American box office in 1961 (and it even made more money than the Oscar-winning juggernaut West Side Story that same year)!


101 Dalmatians might be stylistically the opposite of Disney’s famed fairy tale films, but it is still one of the best Disney films ever made. There is also a rumor in Hollywood about Emma Stone playing Cruella De Vil in a film that might be similar to when Angelina Jolie had the starring role in Maleficent in 2014. Walt Disney might not have been able to witness the live-action remakes of his animated classics, but this film will always remain a favorite for Disney fans and anyone who loves animals, especially pet-owners who love their dogs.

101 Dalmatians (1961) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time Cruella De Vil smokes

Take a Drink: every time the phrase “Twilight Bark” is spoken

And Do 101 Shots: for each dalmatian in the film (but not literally, please!)

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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