The Reluctant Dragon


Welcome Back! We begin with Disney’s The Reluctant Dragon. The film is by Disney, but is not considered part of their animated classic canon. The reason is most likely, because the film is part live-action. The Reluctant Dragon was released June 20, 1941 by Walt Disney Productions and distributed by RKO Radio Pictures.


The Reluctant Dragon was produced by Walt Disney. The live-action sequence was directed by Alfred Werker (Kidnapped, He Walked By Night, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes). The animation was directed by Hamilton Luske (Pinocchio, Fantasia, Make Mine Music-Melody Time, Cinderella-Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians). The sequence directors were Jack Cutting (Saludos Amigos, Shorts), Ub Iwerks (Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Created Mickey Mouse, Silly Symphony Shorts, Song of the South), and Jack Kinney (Pinocchio, Dumbo, The Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music, Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad)

The live-action was written by Ted Sears (Snow White-Bambi, Cinderella-Sleeping Beauty), Al Perkins (Children’s Author, there is no information about this man, it’s like he disappeared off the planet), Larry Clemmons (Voice for Gramps in The Rescuers, The Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh (77), Rescues, Fox and the Hound), Bill Cottrell (Snow White, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Saludos Amigos The Three Caballeros, Melody Time), Harry Clork, and Robert Benchley. The Reluctant Dragon segment was written by Erdman Penner (Pinocchio, Fantasia, Make Mine Music, Melody Time-Sleeping Beauty), and T. Hee (Fantasia). The Baby Weems segment was written by Joe Grant (Snow White-Dumbo, Beauty and the Beast-Fantasia 2000, Monsters Inc., Up, Chicken Little), Dick Huemer (Fantasia, Dumbo, Saludos Amigos, Make Mine Music, Alice in Wonderland), and John Miller (Pinocchio-Dumbo, Saludos Amigos).

The Reluctant Dragon is a tour of the Walt Disney facilities in Burbank. Film stars Robert Benchley and Disney workers such as Ward Kimball, Fred Moore, Norman Ferguson, Clarence Nash, and Walt Disney play as themselves. The first twenty minutes are in black and white, and the rest is in color. While, most is live-action, but there are four animated segments: Casey Junior from Dumbo, Baby Weems, Goofy’s How to Ride a Horse, and The Reluctant Dragon.

The Reluctant Dragon cost $600,000 to make, but only made back $400,000.


  • Robert Benchley as Himself; Foreign Correspondent, Why Daddy?
  • Frances Gifford as Doris (Studio Artist); Tarzan Triumphs, Jungle Girl
  • Buddy Pepper as Humphrey (Studio Guide); The Finest Hours
  • Nana Bryant as Mrs. Benchley; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Harvey
  • Claud Allister as Sir Giles; The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  • Barnett Parker as The Dragon; Marie Antoinette, At the Circus
  • Billy Lee as The Boy; The Biscuit Eater, War Dogs, Wagon Wheels
  • Florence Gill as Florence Gill/Clara Cluck; Obliging Young Lady
  • Clarence Nash as Clarence Nash/Donald Duck; The Three Caballeros, Fun and Fancy Free, Donald Duck Voice, Pinocchio- Donkeys, Song of the South- Mr. Bluebird, Additional Voices from 101 Dalmatians, The Bear from Fox and the Hound, Nephew Fred in Mickey’s Christmas, Shorts
  • Norman Ferguson as Norm Ferguson; Snow White-Dumbo, Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, Cinderella-Peter Pan, Shorts
  • Ward Kimball as Ward Kimball; Snow White-Dumbo; Saludos Amigos-Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks
  • Jimmy Luske as Jimmy- Baby Weem’s Model
  • Alan Ladd as Alan- Baby Weems Storyboard Artist; Shane, The Blue Dahlia
  • Truman Woodworth as Truman Woodworth
  • Hamilton MacFadden as Hamilton MacFadden; The Blue Camel
  • Maurice Murphy as Baby Weems Storyboard Artist; Tailspin Tommy
  • The Staff of the Walt Disney Studio as The Staff
  • Ernie Alexander as Baby Weems Father; Ten Cents a Dance
  • Lester Dorr as Slim; Quicksand, Killers from Space, Without Honor
  • Eddie Mar as Walter Winchell; The Glass Key, On Moonlight Bay
  • Linda Marwood as Baby Weem’s Mother
  • John McLeish as Narrator- Baby Weems; Dumbo- Narrator, Prosecutor- The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Narrator for Disney’s Shorts
  • Donald Wilson as Narrator- The Reluctant Dragon; The Whistler, Alarm
  • Walt Disney as Walt Disney


The music is by Frank Churchill (Snow White-Bambi, Three Little Pigs) and Larry Morey (Snow White, Bambi, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad).

Original Story:

The Reluctant Dragon is based on The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame.Kenneth Grahame was a very famous British writer. He wrote The Wind in the Willows and the Golden Age. The Wind in the Willows eventually becomes a Disney movie, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. The Reluctant Dragon was a chapter inside of Kenneth’s story, Dream Days. It was published in 1898. I’ve never read the book, so I don’t know any of the differences.

Fun Facts:

  • The Mickey/Dopey Drive sign built was built for this movie and was supposed to be removed, but continues to be there until this day.

  • This movie features the first How to Goofy cartoons.
  • Casey Junior from Dumbo appears in this film and Bambi (who will be debuted the next year) makes a minor appearance.

  • Some of the maquettes are shown of early versions of Peter Pan and Lady and the Tramp. Other maquettes include Jiminy Cricket and the drunk coo-coo cluck from Pinocchio, Chernabog, the black centaurette, and other Fantasia characters, and a knight from The Reluctant Dragon.

  • Most of the animators in this film were actors to portray the animators.
  • Some portions of the film had to be withdrawn. The dragon originally had a navel, but the Hays Office objectified and wouldn’t let it pass.
  • This movie was produced to help Disney’s debt.
  • The film shows Mount Roosevelt, but only George Washington and Abraham Lincoln faces. The reason is because; Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson’s faces were not finished on Mount Rushmore yet.


When the film was released, it was during the middle of the Disney’s strike. Strikers picketed the film’s premiere with signs wanting more pay. Sympathizers paraded down a theater wearing a dragon costume. Critics and audience were upset that the film was not an actual animated movie.


Disney Studio; Burbank, California, 1941


  • Goofy
  • Donald Duck
  • Casey Junior
  • The Reluctant Dragon
  • Sir Giles
  • Boy
  • Baby Weems
  • Father and Mother


Before the Film:

I may or may not have seen this movie. It does look a little interesting. Here is the link:


Mr. Benchley’s wife orders Mr. Benchley to go to Walt Disney to see if he would like to use the idea for the book. Mr. Benchley is very reluctant to go, but he goes anyways. He is curious about the studio and tries to look at thing without getting caught, but usually makes a mess of things. The Disney employees don’t mind and are very friendly towards Mr. Benchley. We see a small part from Dumbo and Bambi. It looks really nice. We meet Donald. We learn about how the animation studio works. It’s actually really cool and interesting.

One of the segments is the Baby Weem segment. Basically, it is about a newborn baby who can talk, but not baby talking, real life talking. The public ate it up, and he became super famous. The parents weren’t allowed to see him. As the baby is about to make an important speech to the President, he becomes very sick. Once he gets better, he can no longer talk, and the public becomes bored with him, forgetting him. His parents are happy to have a healthy, happy baby. Then a Goofy cartoon plays. It is a typical Goofy cartoon. Goofy is supposed to show how to ride a horse, but that doesn’t exactly work out. The next cartoon, The Reluctant Dragon plays. The father and his sheep run away, because he sees a dragon. So, his son goes to investigate. He finds the dragon to be singing and taking a bath. The Dragon turns out to be very proper and sweet. The boy asking him questions like if he’s eaten any damsels and similar questions. The Dragon finds that shocking and tells him what he likes to do, which is read poems. The Dragon reads his poem to the boy, but the boy becomes bad and leaves. He goes to the fair where the dragon killer is there, and leaves to go warn the Dragon. The Dragon is playing the flute. The Dragon refuses to listen and shoos him along. The boy goes to tell Sir Giles that the Dragon refuses to fight and likes poetry. Sir Giles is shocked and likes poetry also. He goes to meet the Dragon. They meet the dragon, and both the dragon and Sir Giles recite poetry. The boy tries to convince them to fight, but the Dragon refuses. Then he agrees, then refuses, and then agrees. They pretend to fight, and live happily ever after. Disney had already made the picture, so Mr. Bentley missed his chance. His wife lectures him, and he speaks in a Donald Duck voice. The End


The Reluctant Dragon is actually pretty cute. I found it very interesting and I learned a lot. They made learning how they made movies actually fascinating. Most movies that try to show you how to do something or how something is made are really boring, but not the Reluctant Dragon. It shows how everything is without going into too much detail and making you lose interest. The Casey Junior segment is really cool. The way the Lady uses the microphone thing to do the train’s voice is interesting. I liked when they showed the Bambi scene. It looked awesome. The Baby Weem segment was really cute. I actually enjoyed Baby Weem’s character. The Goofy cartoon is great like always. The Reluctant Dragon was charming. It was very nicely animated, and a simple story.


There isn’t really anything that I would change or dislike about it. Is it their best work? No But, it wasn’t meant to be their best work. Its purpose was to help educate people on how an animated movie is made and help make the studio some money to get out of debt. So, I can’t really fault it for anything. The movie did what it was supposed to do.

Overall Opinion:

The Reluctant Dragon is a movie that was mainly created to help bring in some money, so the studio could get out of debt. The movie basically explains how the studio makes movies. It includes four shorts: Casey Junior, Baby Weems, How to Goofy, and The Reluctant Dragon. The entire movie is charming and cute. It did what it was supposed to do. So, going in and expecting the usual Disney movie is the wrong idea. It is a cute movie, and it could be for everyone, but it seems more suited for a much younger audience. Overall, it is a charming movie and I rate it a B+.

Favorite Character:

My favorite character is Baby Weems. I like the way he talks. He sounds very wise and very Posh. He’s an adorable baby. There really isn’t much to say about him.

Favorite Scene:

My favorite segment is The Reluctant Dragon. I particularly like the scene where he’s taking a shower, and the kid comes. He makes the kid turn around, and the way he walks is like a ballet dancer. It’s really funny. The whole segment is adorable and I like the narrator’s voice.

What did you think of the movie? What was your favorite scene?

Next, up is a Disney classic, Bambi. Bambi was released in 1942. I’ve seen the movie like most people and love it. So, can’t wait to watch it again.

(I do not own pictures, videos, etc. My information came from Wikipedia and IMDB.)

(I do not own pictures, videos, etc. My information came from my own knowledge of the film, the Fantasia DVD and bonus DVD, Wikipedia, IMDB, and DisneyWiki.)


7 thoughts on “The Reluctant Dragon

  1. I didn’t discuss this before because I excluded animation/live action mixes, but I have a hard time to see this is a movie. Just like Mr. Bugs goes to Town should have stayed a cartoon, this should have been a DVD Special Feature. I think it would have been better if Disney had not done this silly frame story but instead had outright done some sort of documentary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had never seen this movie before, which is rare for me and a Disney film. So, I found it kind of interesting, but its probably not something I would watch again. Yea, I agree this works better as a cartoon, but I preferred it over Mr. Bug. I like the documentary idea. They were doing a good job in the beginning except I didn’t really care that much about the main guy.


      1. I basically like all the scenes which explain how the studio works, and some of the more artsy segments. Also showing how a story-board actually becomes a story. If the whole movie had been about this, I would have adored it! As it is, I am glad I saw it, the same way I am glad to see features like “Four artist draw or tree” (or however it was called, it’s a segment which shows four Disney artist on a meadow, drawing the same tree, with all of them explaining their thought process and then the very different result of their work. It is really amazing.

        Liked by 1 person

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