Treasures from the Disney Vault - 6/25
Once again TCM is proud to share gems from the vaults of the fabulous Walt Disney Studios. Leonard Maltin, TCM colleague and peerless Disney expert, returns as host. The focus of this collection is on crime dramas and comedies.
The Moon-Spinners (1964) stars Hayley Mills in the fifth of six films she made under contract to Disney. In this one, based on a 1962 novel by Mary Stewart, Mills plays a British teenager who visits the Greek island of Crete with her aunt (Joan Greenwood) and happens upon a local gang of jewel thieves. The cast also includes Peter McEnery (who gives Mills her first screen kiss), Eli Wallach, Irene Papas and former silent-screen star Pola Negri in her last screen appearance.
The Littlest Horse Thieves (1976) is a British-American family drama produced by Disney and shown in Great Britain under the title Escape from the Dark. Set in Yorkshire, England in 1909, the story concerns the pit ponies used for decades to haul coal out of the mines. When three children learn that the ponies are to be replaced by machinery and will likely be slaughtered, they embark upon a mission to save them. Charles Jarrott directs, and the cast includes Alastair Sim in his final film role.
The above film is shown with Bone Bandit (1948), a Pluto cartoon in which the pooch discovers that his bones are being stolen by a gopher who uses them to support his tunnels.
The North Avenue Irregulars (1979) is a comedy about a pastor (Edward Herrmann) in a small California town who, along with a group of church ladies, is enlisted by the U.S. Treasury to help crack down on illegal gamblers in their area. Bruce Bilson directs a cast that also includes Barbara Harris, Susan Clark, Karen Valentine and a scene-stealing Cloris Leachman.
Next up in our lineup is The Robber Kitten (1935), a "Silly Symphonies" cartoon about a kitten who runs away from home with plans to become a robber. His first intended victim turns out to be a real bandit, a dog named Dirty Bill.
Emil and the Detectives (1964), based on the children's novel by German author Erich Kästner, tells of a 10-year-old boy (Bryan Russell) who travels to Berlin to visit his grandmother and finds that the money he was supposed to deliver to her has been stolen. Emil is joined by a group of new friends in pursuing the thief, who turns out to be mixed up with bank robbers. Peter Tewksbury directs and Walter Slezak costars.
Never a Dull Moment (1968) stars Dick Van Dyke as an actor who is mistaken for an assassin and enlisted by a gangster (Edward G. Robinson) in a plot to steal the Vincent Van Gogh painting "Field of Sunflowers." Jerry Paris directs and the cast also includes Dorothy Provine, Henry Silva and Slim Pickens.
by Roger Fristoe