The Reluctant Dragon Image

The Reluctant Dragon

By Alan Ng | November 23, 2021

NEW TO DISNEY+! I love films, and I adore the process of moviemaking. Now add Walt Disney to the mix, and I’m in pure heaven. The last time I’d since seen Walt Disney’s The Reluctant Dragan was long before the genesis of computer-generated animation. As such, I’d forgotten it’s less a tale of a reluctance-suffering dragon and more of a behind-the-scenes tour of Walt Disney animation.

The film stars actor Robert Benchley (who?) as himself. Before going to bed, his wife finishes reading the story of The Reluctant Dragon, and she thinks it would be the perfect story for Disney to produce next. She insists that he meet with Walt and pitch it. The reluctant Robert tries his hardest NOT TO meet with the legend… because Walt probably doesn’t want to be bothered with unsolicited pitches. Interestingly enough, in 1941, it’s real easy to get a meeting with Walt Disney and pitch him a story that you don’t have the rights to.

“…in 1941, it’s real easy to get a meeting with Walt Disney and pitch him a story that you don’t have the rights to.”

Before you know it, his wife books an appointment with Walt by just showing up and asking the studio guard. While he waits, Robert begins wandering the famed Burbank studios. My how times have changed. His journey first takes him to the modeling room, where he observes Disney artists sketching a real-life elephant. Robert then speaks to one of the Asian artists and remarks on how she added a “Cooley” element to her drawing. This is the reason the film was slapped with a culturally insensitive warning at the beginning.

From there, The Reluctant Dragan follows our hero as he is brought into a storyboard session for Baby Weems. The short is presented with storyboard images and very limited animation. Now, on to the voiceover studio where Robert learns to speak like Donald Duck from Clarence “Ducky” Nash. Next, he moves on to the foley room, where Casey Jr. gets his voice down pat.

The Reluctant Dragon (1941)

Directed: Alfred L. Werker, Hamilton Luske

Written: Ted Sears, Al Perkins, Larry Clemmons, Harry Clork

Starring: Robert Benchley, Walt Disney, Nana Bryant, Clarence Nash, Ward Kimball, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

The Reluctant Dragon Image

"…I'm feeling quite nostalgic..."

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