The Reluctant Dragon is a 1941 American live action and animated film produced by Walt Disney, directed by Alfred Werker, and released by RKO Radio Pictures on June 20, 1941. Essentially a tour of the then-new Walt Disney Studios facility in Burbank, California, the film stars radio comedian Robert Benchley and many Disney staffers such as Ward Kimball, Fred Moore, Norman Ferguson, Clarence Nash, and Walt Disney, all as themselves.
The first twenty minutes of the film are in grayscale and black-and-white, the remainder is in Technicolor. Most of the film is live-action, with four short animated segments inserted into the running time: a black-and-white segment featuring Casey Junior from Dumbo; and three Technicolor cartoons: Baby Weems, Goofy’s How to Ride a Horse, and the extended-length short The Reluctant Dragon, based upon Kenneth Grahame’s book of the same name. The total length of all animated parts is 40 minutes.
The Reluctant Dragon
The cartoon starts with an introduction by the narrator of the story. One of the main characters, The Boy, who is reading a book about knights and bloodthirsty dragons, is introduced. His father comes rushing by, claiming to have seen a monster. The Boy reassures his father that it was only a dragon, to which the father panics and runs to the village in fear.
The Boy then goes to the Dragon’s lair, where he is confronted not by a ferocious beast, but a shy, poetry spouting creature. Though surprised at seeing what a nice creature the Dragon is, the Boy befriends him. When he arrives back at the village, the Boy discovers that Sir Giles the Dragon slayer has arrived. He runs to tell the Dragon that he should fight him, only to be left disappointed when the Dragon announces that he never fights. The Boy visits Sir Giles (not St. George as in the original story), and it is revealed that Sir Giles is an old man. The Boy tells Sir Giles that the Dragon will never fight and they decide to visit him.
Sir Giles and the Boy visit the Dragon while he is having a picnic. It turns out that Sir Giles also loves to make up poetry, so The Dragon and Sir Giles serenade each other. The Boy then asks if he could recite a poem of his own. From this, he uses his chance to get a word in edgewise to shout at them to arrange the fight. The Dragon leaves but is persuaded back out of his cave when he is flattered by Sir Giles. Sir Giles and the Dragon eventually decide to fight, but as Sir Giles and the Boy leave, the Dragon realizes in shock that he has accidentally agreed to a fight and tries to tell Sir Giles and the boy that he changed his mind, but they ignore him and the dragon mutters to himself why he cannot just keep his big mouth shut. The next day, the villagers gather to watch the fight. Sir Giles arrives waiting for the Dragon.
Inside his cave, the Dragon is too scared to fight and cannot breathe fire. The Boy calling the Dragon a “Punk Poet” leads to the Dragon getting angry and eventually spitting flames. The Dragon jumps for joy as he is now ferocious. The fight ensues, with Sir Giles chasing the Dragon around with his sword and into the cave, where they drink tea and make noises to make it seem they are fighting. Out in the open, they charge at each other, creating an enormous cloud. Inside they dance, and Sir Giles reveals that it is time for the Dragon to be slain, but only for pretend, to which the Dragon gets excited. Sir Giles places his lance under the Dragon’s arm, then the Dragon jumps out of the cloud and performs a dramatic death scene. The story ends with the Dragon being accepted into society, to which the Dragon recites a poem:
- “I promise not to rant or roar, and scourge the countryside anymore!”
Sir Giles is drawn by the animators to somewhat resemble Don Quixote. /Gjithqka Nga Pak – for more see the advertisment.