Spend Christmas with an entertainment icon

A family photo album like no other, “Christmas with Walt Disney” has its world premiere today in San Francisco’s newest movie theater.

The small, colorful, comfortable theater with a terrific sound system in the Presidio’s Walt Disney Family Museum is the exclusive venue for the film, being shown through Jan. 4.

“Christmas with Walt Disney” is a delightful combination of Disney family memories of Christmas and related segments from Disney shorts, TV specials and movies. Directed by Don Hahn (“The Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast”), the film is narrated by Diane Disney Miller, Walt’s daughter.

Heartwarming, homey and amusing, the film is very much like most Disney works, with humor helping to avoid contrived or precious tones. 

Also, similar to the museum, the film presents an elegant, convincing integration of Disney as a person and as the emperor of entertainment’s biggest domain.

For instance, clips of the family skiing and ice skating during the holidays are interspersed with Mickey Mouse and Goofy on ice. These and similar sequences show what the museum also communicates: how Disney’s life became his art.

There are (now) funny vintage commercials from early Disney sponsors Kodak and Coca-Cola and clips from dozens of Disney films, including “Swiss Family Robinson,” “Lady and the Tramp” and “Fantasia.” The famed Dixieland band Firehouse Five Plus Two performs.

A scene never seen before from “The Happiest Millionaire” features Fred Mac Murray and Greer Garson singing “It Won’t be Long ’til Christmas” — a song that was cut from the picture.

The Disney atmosphere is so all-encompassing that you may not be aware of the real world until you see an actor in blackface at the Disneyland Christmas Parade, and then realize that the movie is exclusively all-white. Arguably, it’s not the fault of the filmmakers, only of the period and place depicted, but it’s still a bit strange in the midst of those big crowds in Disneyland, even the late 1950s and early ’60s.

 

MOVIE REVIEW
Christmas with Walt Disney ***

Starring Walt Disney, Diane Disney Miller
Directed by Don Hahn
Not rated
Running time: 51 minutes

IF YOU GO

Where: Walt Disney Family Museum, 104 Montgomery St., Presidio, San Francisco
When: 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30, 3:30, 5 and 6:30 p.m. daily except Tuesdays, Dec. 25 and Jan. 1; closes Jan. 4
Tickets: $4 to $10 for movie; museum admission is separate
Contact: (415) 345-6800, www.waltdisney.org

 

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