The Living Desert

I rested a bit and sat down to watch “The Living Desert,” the Disney nature documentary I remember from my childhood.  I really liked how this film is in Technicolor, which makes the desert flowers look truly beautiful.  I thought it was questionable to describe animals in human terms, and to make some of the predators out to be villains.  There was one bit with scorpions and square dancing which went a bit too long.  I didn’t like square dancing in school.  I thought one of the best sequences was the one with the wasp and the tarantula.  I kept wondering how they set up some of those shots, especially the ones involving tunnels under the ground.  I wondered a bit whether the filmmakers set up some of those situations with the animals.  How much film did they use?  There was a saying about not having animals in your film unless you wanted a lot of trouble.  I liked watching the bats and the sidewinder.  The footage of the flash flood made me think about my apartment.  “The Living Desert” was filmed in Tucson, Arizona.  This film was released on November 10, 1953.  I saw it about eighteen years after that, but it didn’t feel like an old movie to me at the time.  I have to think that young children will always be fascinated with animals.  I found the desert of this movie to be an interesting place, but I don’t think I want to visit it.  It’s too bad that the animals didn’t have more to do than kill each other.  The film won the Best Documentary Oscar, and it was financially successful.  James Algar was the director.  He worked on “Fantasia,” “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad,” and “The Vanishing Prairie.”  He died on February 26, 1998 at age 85.  I watched Susan Dey in episodes of Circle of Fear, Matt Helm, The Streets of San Francisco, and Barnaby Jones.  I thought the Circle of Fear episode “Doorway to Heaven” was good until its ending.  It was reminiscent of the Twilight Zone episode where the kids take refuge in the world at the bottom of the swimming pool.  Susan was a murder suspect in the vein of The Gun Went Off By Accident in the Matt Helm program, which didn’t feature much of Matt Helm himself.  It was hard to picture Susan as part of a radical leftist group in The Streets of San Francisco.  She was waving a gun around almost like she was Patty Hearst, and she shot Michael Douglas’ character.  It’s hard to see her as the criminal type.  In the Barnaby Jones, episode, she was the daughter of a woman who didn’t seem suicidal, and it was just possible that she was inheriting a lot of money.  Some of the people who died on December 26 include Harry S. Truman (1972), Jack Benny (1974), Howard Hawks (1977), Dian Fossey (1985), Elsa Lanchester (1986), Curtis Mayfield (1999), Jason Robards (2000), Nigel Hawthorne (2001), and Gerald Ford (2006).  Today is a birthday for Beth Behrs (31) and Lars Ulrich (53).

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