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A Walt Disney TRUE-LIFE ADVENTURE Short Subject.
Florida's great water lands may look placid, but an implacable menace lurks just below the surface. The PROWLERS OF THE EVERGLADES - the alligator - is revealed in this fascinating little film as the dominate life-force in its ecosystem. Highlight: the exhilarating escapades of the otters.
`This is one of a series of TRUE-LIFE ADVENTURES presenting strange facts about the world we live in. In the making of these films, nature is the dramatist. There are no fictitious situations or characters.' Winston Hibler is the narrator.
There were plenty of nature documentaries predating (see F. Percy
Smith) and contemporary (see Arne Sucksdorff) to Walt Disney's True
Life Adventures, but there's little question who dominated this genre
in the late '40s and '50s. You simply can't beat glorious Technicolor,
thundering music scores by Paul Smith, Winston Hibler's laid-back
narration and the animated paintbrush "Tinkerbell treatment".
Naturalistic accuracy was not always the goal, despite intros to the
contrary; but I've found much guilty pleasure in square-dancing
scorpions and Anvil Chorus bighorns. Sadly, we are so immersed in
Animal Planet shows, it is hard to picture the impact wild animals in
their native habitat must have had on the BIG screen.
I love all of them, but PROWLERS OF THE EVERGLADES (completed in 1952, but an Oscar winner the following year) and the feature SECRETS OF LIFE (which should have won one) are the two I've watched the most, perhaps because they are the least "disneyfied". Well... almost... you see, the "funny" otters were so popular in BEAVER VALLEY, that their Everglades cousins just had to put in their own clowning act in PROWLERS as well. On the plus side, there's no cartoony business for the alligators or the waterfowl and turtles who cautiously share housing (and occasionally become lunch). The clever camera effects achieved by the Milotte husband and wife team (true successors in spirit of Martin & Olsa Johnson two decades earlier... couples who adventure-seek together usually stay together) is brought to a peak in the underwater scenes, highlighted by "mirror" gators on the ceiling, and in the close-and-personal clips of hatching reptiles in a very well-guarded nest.
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