|Directed by|| Wolfgang Reitherman|
|Produced by||Walt Disney|
|Written by||Bill Peet|
|Starring|| Rod Taylor|
Betty Lou Gerson
|Music by||George Bruns|
|Editing by|| Roy M. Brewer, Jr.|
|Distributed by||Buena Vistas Pictures Distribution|
|Release date(s)||January 25, 1961|
|Running time||79 min|
|Gross revenue||$215.8 million|
|Followed by||101 Dalmatians 2: Patch's London Adventure|
101 Dalmatians is a 1961 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Productions and based on the 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. The film is about a litter of Dalmatian puppies who are kidnapped by the wealthy and villainous Cruella de Vil, who wants to skin them to make their fur into coats. Their parents, Pongo and Perdita, travel across the British countryside to save their puppies, along with 84 additional puppies that Cruella had bought from pet shops, thus counting the Dalmatians as 101.
In 1960s London, England, Pongo the Dalmatian lives in a bachelor flat with his songwriter owner Roger Radcliffe. Pongo gets tired of the bachelor life and decides to find Roger a wife and himself a mate. After searching, he settles on the perfect pair: a woman named Anita and her Dalmatian, Perdita (who is also female). Pongo gets Roger out of the house for a walk and drags him all over the park to get them to meet. After initially and accidentally embarrassing them, his plan works, and both humans and dogs fall in love and marry.
Months later, the Dalmatians and their owners live a good married life in a better house, along with a nanny to help out. On a dark stormy night in October, Perdita gives birth to 15 puppies, a large litter for a dog. But it's on the same night that Cruella De Vil - a wealthy former schoolmate of Anita's - barges in and wants to buy the entire litter, though she is earlier repulsed by the puppies for not having their spots formed yet. In spite of being intimidated by her, Roger firmly declares that they're not for sale, resulting in Cruella getting angry and storming off. Weeks pass by, and once the puppies start getting older, Cruella hires Jasper and Horace - her henchmen - to steal all 15 puppies while the owners of the house are out for a walk, which they do while getting past the nanny of the house. Scotland Yard is notified about this but is unable to find them, so Pongo and Perdita set up a "Twilight Bark" - a gossip line for dogs - to ask other dogs in London for help.
Word reaches a countryside farm, where three animals (Colonel the Old English sheepdog, Sergeant Tibbs the tabby cat, and Captain the old war horse) find where the puppies are taken to: Hell Hall, Cruella's abandoned family estate fallen into disrepair. Not only are all 15 puppies there, but 84 other Dalmatian puppies bought from stores are there as well. Tibbs manages to find the fifteen puppies in time before being spotted by the henchmen, so Colonel sends word back to London. Once they get the message, the Dalmatian parents go with the Great Dane to the outer edge of London. From there, they travel across the harsh winter countryside, even swimming across the Stour River (which is running fast with slabs of broken ice floating along at that time of year).
Meanwhile, Cruella orders her henchman to kill the puppies that night in fear of the police finding them soon. Tibbs overhears this while learning that Cruella is planning on killing and skinning the puppies to make a spotted fur coat. While Horace and Jasper watch their favorite TV show, Tibbs attempts to rescue all 99 puppies, but Jasper and Horace eventually finish their show and come for them before they can escape. The two men corner the puppies and cat and are ready to strike when Pongo and Perdita leap through a window, snarling. They fight off Jasper and Horace while Tibbs and Colonel lead the puppies to safety at their barn.
Pongo and Perdita happily reunite with their 15 puppies before noticing the other 84 puppies. Once they're told of what Cruella was going to do to them all, they unhesitatingly decide to adopt the other 84 puppies, certain that their owners would not throw them out. After Colonel, Tibbs, and Captain help them leave the barn, the Dalmatians begin their long journey back to London, travelling over ice before going onto the snow. The harsh winter starts slowing them down, as well as a blizzard sweeping over them not helping matters. Fortunately, a collie comes to give them shelter from the storm in a barn, where four dairy cows offer the puppies some milk to get them fed; the Collie also tells that he's arranged a meeting with a Labrador retriever living in Dinsford. In the meantime, Cruella and her henchmen are on their trail, following pawprints.
The Dalmatians continue their journey the next morning, arriving at Dinsford, where the Labrador retriever lives. He explains to the Dalmatians that they need to board a delivery truck going into London without being spotted. Pongo gets the idea of rolling in soot so that they can pass by disguised as Labradors, and his family follow suit. At first, Pongo, Perdita, and the Labrador succeed in escorting the puppies into the truck one by one, but snow drips onto their fur, which makes Cruella - who's tracked them to the town along with her henchmen - spot them; the henchmen are briefly delayed by the Labrador, who charges at them to slow them down. What follows is Cruella trying to chase them down in the truck they've hitched a ride in, trying to ram it off the road (which the driver doesn't take kindly to and tries to shove her away). As Jasper and Horace try to help, they try cutting the truck off from above and end up crashing their vehicle into Cruella's car instead. The Dalmatians manage to get away, while Cruella (stranded in a ravine with her henchmen) throws a furious fit, to which Jasper irritably shouts at her to shut up.
Meanwhile, back in London, Roger and Anita prepare to celebrate Christmas and Roger's first big hit (a song about Cruella De Vil), but their moods are dampened by the disappearance of their dogs. Suddenly, they hear barking outside, and when their nanny opens the door, a huge group of black dogs come running in. They wipe the soot away and realize with joy that it's their Dalmatians having come home, along with the 84 other puppies. To Pongo and Perdita's delight, they decide to keep all the puppies and use the money Roger had earned with his song to buy a bigger house in the countryside so that they and the Dalmatians can have more space. Roger even makes a new song to go with his Cruella song, called "Dalmatian Plantation", to which the humans sing to and the dogs bark to.
Family values and traditional marriage are upheld and shown in a positive light, from a Christian wedding at the start of the movie to Pongo and Perdita being loving parents to their 15 puppies. Adoption is also shown positively, especially when the Dalmatian parents decide to adopt the 84 puppies that were rescued from Hell Hall.
Before the trend of Disney doing live-action remakes of their classic movies in the 2010s, Disney had created a live-action remake for 101 Dalmatians in 1996. Starring Glenn Close as Cruella, the movie follows the story of the original Disney film with some noticeable differences.
- 101 Dalmatians at the Internet Movie Database