Sweatbox Notes

Let’s have another look at Production #2179 and sequence .006. It’s from a little film we did back in the sixties called, Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book. I can thank my colleague, Dick Lucas for saving these sweatbox notes from what turned out to be a very funny sequence. Unfortunately, I didn’t work on this sequence, but what the heck - you can’t have everything. As you know, the movie had to be divided up, and each of our story teams was given a sequence to write. Yes, I said, write. In the old days of Disney, the story men wrote the movie.

The storyboards referenced in these notes are the work of Dick Lucas and a very funny man named, Al Wilson. The wild and wacky sequence owes much of it’s zany humor to Mr. Wilson who on occasion worked for another cartoon maker across town. You may have heard of the Jay Ward Studios out on Sunset. Anyway, Al had taken a break from Jay and joined us on The Jungle Book and we were very lucky to have him. Al made his home in lovely Mission Canyon up in the hills of Santa Barbara. Somehow, Al managed to make the long drive from Santa Barbara to Burbank most every day. On occasion, I would drive up to Al’s home to drop off some work. In case you’ve wondering, I happen to be from Santa Barbara as well and would visit on weekends.

If you can read the notes on this tiny photograph you’ll see the early notes are for story man, Dick Lucas. In the second paragraph you’ll see the name of Woolie Reitherman’s assistant director, Danny Alguire. Mr. Alguire was also an accomplished musician and played cornet in Ward Kimball’s band, The Firehouse Five plus Two. Many of the sweatbox notes in this section detail cuts and changes to the soundtrack. Because of his musical skills it would appear Woolie is relying on Danny to make the necessary revisions involving the music tracks. You can see by the notes they’re quite detailed. Because all this work is analog, we were still cutting film back in the old days. And, I do mean literally “cutting” the film. Remember, we separated all the tracks in recording. That meant we could cut music tracks without altering the recorded tracks by Phil Harris and Louie Prima. Looking back at these notes I realize that Dick has very few revisions on the storyboard. However, poor Danny will have his hands full addressing all of Woolie’s changes.

For all their hard work on The Jungle Book neither Dick Lucas or Al Wilson received a screen credit for this marvelous sequence. Of course, the same goes for Eric Cleworth and myself for the stuff we storyboarded. Only my pal, Vance Gerry was given a story screen credit on The Jungle Book. Vance, of course was more than deserving of that credit. You realize that credits were limited in length in the old days and not everybody working on a movie received a credit. As you can probably imagine there was also the little matter of politics when it came to choosing names. If you were liked by the right people your chances were better. Being a department head would also help. Today, everybody gets a nod and end credits can run as long as a short cartoon.

In any event, it’s good to see these old sweatbox notes again. It’s a reminder of the sixties and the challenge we all faced as we tried to make the Old Maestro happy. Although not everyone is a fan of The Jungle Book, we managed to create a storyline that made the boss happy. Since this was Walt's last film, I can't think of anything more important than that.

 Director, Woolie Reitherman had more than a few notes for story man, Dick Lucas and assistant director, Danny Alguire. Lucky for me and Vance Gerry, Walt liked our boards.

Director, Woolie Reitherman had more than a few notes for story man, Dick Lucas and assistant director, Danny Alguire. Lucky for me and Vance Gerry, Walt liked our boards.