Q4 2022

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66 C I N E M O N T A G E B O O K R E V I E W By Betsy McLane J ake Friedman deserves a rousing hur- rah for writing "The Disney Revolt: The Great Labor War of Animation's Golden Age." This is an eye-opening book full of many fascinating stories about a World War II-era Hollywood labor battle, and even readers who are familiar with the history of animation, or the growth of en- tertainment industry unions, will discover something new in its pages. As Leonard Maltin, the film expert and author of "Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons," wrote, "I learned many things I didn't know from this trea- tise, which allows the reader to make up his or her mind about the still-simmering divisions caused by the dispute." Maltin is correct in calling this a treatise, but it is an absorbing one. The history of the 1941 Disney animators strike as laid out by Friedman is dramatic and filled with enough twists to make for a page-turner. He structures the narrative around the backgrounds, personalities, and career intersection of two central figures, the animator Art Babbitt and Walt Disney himself. Walter, born 1901, and Arthur (b. 1903) shared more than Midwestern child- hoods: Chicago, a family farm in the small town of Marceline, Mo., and Kansas City for Walt; Omaha, Sioux City, and then New York City for Art. They both also had early exposure to labor organizing and social injustices. Friedman describes each man's formative years amid the social background of the time: labor unrest, Eastern European immigration, and World War I. He draws on their early experiences with family, work, responsibility and organized labor to help explain why decades later they became first colleagues, then enemies. Walt's father Elias Disney was a sup- porter of the socialist politician Eugene Debs, one of the founders of the Indus- trial Workers of the World (IWW or The Wobblies) and was active in the populist/ socialist movements that roiled American politics at the turn of that century. Solomon Babitsky, Art's father, was an immigrant from Eastern Europe, a Jewish scholar who had no skills that were marketable in the US. Neither man provided financial stability, and both boys had to work to help support their families, eventually rebelling against their ineffectual fathers. The artistic talents that Walt and Art displayed while young were encouraged by the women in their lives, Walt's aunt Maggie and Art's mother UNHAPPY PLACE THE STORY OF THE 1941 DISNEY ANIMATORS' STRIKE MAKES FOR A PAGE-TURNING READ

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