Wednesday, December 23, 2009
December 23: A Film Of Many Firsts
On this day in 1954, Disney released the film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The first science fiction film ever produced by Walt Disney Pictures and the first Disney film to be shot in CinemaScope, it was based on the classic novel (of the same name) by Jules Verne.
20,000 Leagues was also the first feature length Disney film to be distributed by Buena Vista Distribution (at the time a recent addition to Disney - as prior to 1953 Disney's productions had been distributed through Columbia Pictures, United Artists, and RKO Radio Pictures).
20,000 Leagues was also the first live-action Disney film not to have any animated sequences and the very first Disney film to feature multiple Hollywood stars.
Kirk Douglas (already a box office heavy-weight) played Ned Land a master harpooner. Captain Nemo was played by James Mason, a British actor who had first become immensely popular in the 1940s. The part of Professor Pierre Aronnax was played by Paul Lukas, a successful stage and film actor. Peter Lorre (best known for his roles in Arsenic and Old Lace and Casablanca) portrayed Conseil - the professor's assistant.
The film received positive reactions (becoming an instant Disney classic) and was highly praised for the performances of its leading actors. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea went on to win two Academy Awards - one for Best Color Art Direction/Set Decoration and a second for Special Effects.
Dive on down to December 23 for more Disney history.