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Lot #866
Walt Disney

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Brad-bound treatment script for the 1965 live-action Disney film That Darn Cat, 8.5 x 11, 73 pages, labeled on the front cover, “That Darn Cat / By / The Gordons / Treatment / The Gordons / April 18, 1963,” heavily notated throughout by Disney in pencil and blue ballpoint, with many of the longer notations on the reverse of the typed pages. A selection of Disney’s notations include: On the reverse of page 1, “Sammy enjoys reading headlines about hold up—Helen Jenkins picture in paper is one taken 10 years ago—Crooks are holed up in neighborhood of bank. To them this is a clever trick—Police will be looking for them all over town and never think to look in back yard of bank—They will hang out there until things cool down—Sammy wants to count money, Dan against it.” On the reverse of page 8, “Zeke—A wandering cat & stolen watch are matters for the police not the FBI. Ingrid. But it said in the papers a bank robbery was a federal offense. Zeke–That’s right—But what has a cat & watch to do with the bank hold up.” On the reverse of page 12, “Better climax to this scene—Land lady knocks with hot soup—Etc. Or fire in a wastebasket with smoke—electric fan & money blown all over apartment.” Reverse of page 31, “D. C. goes out—FBI starts to follow him—Various incidents of them tailing cat—DC becomes aware he is being followed and heads back home—They try to get him out again but he refuses.” One other interesting note on page 35 reads, “All the girls I know like cats.” Accompanied by a 1988 TLS from one of the film’s writers to the consignor, Gordon Gordon presenting the script to a woman and providing background information on the script: “Disney, who insisted from the first day that we call him Walt, took this treatment with him to Palm Springs one week-end while the rest of his family was swimming he stretched out on a chaise and went over the script. Then Monday and for the next few days we conferred with him and out of this came the basic movie. Working with him was a writer’s dream.” In fine condition, with expected handling wear and a partial separation to front cover.

When Disney purchased the rights to former FBI agent Gordon Gordon’s novel Undercover Cat, he quickly informed the Bureau that he would be using it for a feature length film. Despite his outspoken anti-Communist beliefs and ‘helpful’ participation in the House Un-American Activities Committee—naming several of his employees and other animators as Communist sympathizers—Hoover did not trust that Disney would portray the FBI in a positive light with That Darn Cat. Telling the tale of a cat who witnesses a bank robbery and inadvertently becomes the FBI’s only chance at finding the criminals and their hostage, the film contained some comic elements in the actions of the agency, as they fumbled to solve the case; the Bureau closely monitored the progress of the film, with informants on the inside and constant direct contact, but struggled to obtain a copy of this script before its release. In the end, Hoover’s worries were unfounded, as the film was a hit and the agency’s image remained unscathed upon its release. This amazing, copiously annotated script for the film shows a crucial step in Disney’s process of making the story suitable for release, suggesting dialogue, character studies, scene suggestions, and multiple changes highlighting the Bureau's professional and respectable action, "FBI starts to follow him—various incidents of them tailing cat," giving the script its distinctly Disney feel and ensuring Hoover's approval. An annotated final-draft script for the historically important film resides in the Disney Burbank Studios and Archives—aside from that copy, this is the only such we know of, with pages and pages of the legendary animator’s handwritten notes on the film that caused endless behind-the-scenes political controversy. Pre-certified Phil Sears COA and RR Auction COA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Rare Manuscript, Document & Autograph
  • Dates: #413 - Ended August 14, 2013