The Reluctant Dragon Image

The Reluctant Dragon

By Alan Ng | November 23, 2021

We then transition to the spooked sci-if room, where the film instantly transforms into glorious Technicolor. Next, we’re all given a lesson in animation cels and the multiplane camera, ending with a presentation of Goofy’s How to Ride a Horse short.

But it’s called The Reluctant Dragon and what do you know? When Robert finally catches up to Walt, it looks like the Master has already animated the tale. So now, everything we’ve learned about animation is stirred together in a pot of Disney magic and presented as the titular film.


“…reminds me of how much I miss hand-drawn animation.”

Storywise, The Reluctant Dragon is not my favorite. It is about a young boy (Billy Lee) who wants to be a dragon killer like his idol, Sir Giles (Claud Allister). As luck would have it, the Boy stumbles across a Dragon (Barnett Parker), but this beast is a pacificist and would rather read poetry than fight. The Boy is having nothing of it and urges Dragon to go against his peaceful nature and take on Sir Giles. As you’d expect in a Disney film, the Boy, Dragon, and Sir Giles learn an important lesson and become friends (sorry for the spoiler).

The film reminds me of how much I miss hand-drawn animation. As cool as computer-generated animation has become, it just seems in comparison all too easy — crystal-clear visuals, vibrant colors, exaggerated movements that can be corrected and finetuned at a moment’s notice. Also, here we get to spend time with the man who started it all, Walt Disney. Let’s also not forget those who were instrumental in building Walt Disney Studios and establishing the standards of American animation like Ward Kimball (one of the Nine Old Men) and Clarence Nash.

Any fan of the Disney of yesteryear will love The Reluctant Dragon despite its questionable and outdated cultural references. Yes, Walt Disney was an imperfect person and just as much a product of his time as anyone else. Even still, I’m feeling quite nostalgic about this ultimate back-in-my-day behind-the-scenes feature.

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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