Today we take a quick look back at some of the best live-action films that Disney made. This list contains eight great movies that, whether you like Disney or not, are amazing and stand on their own as great films. Since the release, and success, of Maleficent they’re going to start remaking their animated classics as live-action films, so get used to seeing real people playing your favorite Disney characters.
In 1954 Disney adapted Jules Verne’s story 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The film is about a submarine named Nautilus, helmed by the madman Captain Nemo. If you’re in the mood for classic sci-fi then this film is perfect for you. Just remember that leagues are really a measure of distance, and not so much depth. If the Nautilus was truly 20,000 leagues under the surface of the sea it would be 60,000 miles down, not really possible.
Disney’s classic Darby O’Gill and the Little People isn’t about actual little people, but about leprechauns, although I believe that they prefer the term little little people. In this tale a Irishman has a battle of wits with leprechauns, which plays off almost every stereotype that there is for the Irish. Heck, they even had Sean Connery, a well known Scotsman, playing the very Irish Dubliner Michael McBride. Even with the strikes against it, the film is very fun and will open your eyes to the plight of leprechauns.
The 1960 Disney film Swiss Family Robinson, which is based on the 1812 novel Der Schweizerische Robinson, is about a shipwrecked family. This family is stranded on an uninhabited island and makes the best of it, they really make lemonade from the lemons that were given to them by life. They use their wits to adapt, but not really, by building a ornate home for themselves and their pets. It’s like Castaway if Tom Hanks brought his family along with him.
1961 saw the release of Disney’s The Absent Minded Professor. This film had Fred MacMurray playing the absent minded Professor Brainard, a chemistry professor at a local college. This isn’t just any professor, this one invents a wonderful substance that gains energy when it strikes a hard surface. This substance is known as flubber, or flying rubber if you’re not into the whole brevity thing. He uses this flubber to fix college basketball games and avoid traffic, he was quite the law breaker.
1964’s Mary Poppins tells the tale of a strange woman that flies in from nowhere to watch over children. You’d think that people would be more particular about who is watching their children. “So you just appeared out of the sky with a flying umbrella? Sure watch my children, what could go wrong?” She may truly be responsible for the obesity epidemic with her spoonful of sugar that just leads to a slippery slope of diabetes.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks takes place during the blitz of WWII, a trio of siblings leave the city for a safer village, far from the Fuehrer’s bombs. Unbeknownst to them, the children shack up with an aspiring witch. She just wants to use witchcraft to put an end to the war, truly a good witch.
The 1982 classic Disney film Tron mostly takes place in a computer, where programs are personified by the people that created them. The film centers around Kevin Flynn, played by Jeff Bridges, a software engineer that just wants credit for his work. Long story short, Flynn gets digitized and put into a mainframe, where he needs to battle other, more aggressive, programs. Finally he escapes and gets everything he worked hard for, just like in life.
Disney’s latest live-action success is the blockbuster Maleficent. This is the back story of the baddie from Sleeping Beauty, where we learn that she wasn’t always bad. We learn that Maleficent started life as fairy, but soon she becomes a very powerful queen. Thanks to this tale we get a glimpse into a seemingly shallow character to reveal some depth, helping garner some sympathy for the once diabolical character.