I saw the film today oh boy
The crowded people turned away
but I just had to look
having read the book...

---The Beatles: A Day in the Life

"Dalm you, Disney!"


The eighteenth dalmatian

This page would have looked a lot duller without the artwork of

I guess I should also thank

for pointing me in the right direction, and even Disney for giving me something to gripe about in the first place.

At the end of the day, though, there is one person who is owed the most thanks, so this page is dedicated

to Dodie Smith,
mother of 101

Wherever she is, there is no justice if there aren't any dalmatians there.
You may have seen the new movie and think you know it all. You may have seen the old movie and think you know more than those who have only seen the new one. You are right, but you still don't know it all. (Some would say you don't know it all until you get a "dal" of your own, maybe not even then...) Before the movies there was a book that was about as different from either movie as the movies are to each other. Dodie Smith's "The Hundred And One Dalmatians". [You see, back then (the year before I was born to be precise) they did not have this thing about putting numbers into titles, so the title of Smith's book was made up of five words.]
The book was quite different from particularly the last movie. One significant difference is the brand of humour - in the book you get little wordplays like "Mrs. Dearly [---] had also lived in a bachelor flat (there are no such things as spinster flats)" or the problem of how to address a butler whose name is Butler; in the (last) movie [a.k.a. Home Alone 101] we see a couple of Wet Bandits clones get their chestnuts roasted on an electric fence and Cruella herself get dunked in a vat of molasses and sprayed by a skunk (Where did that come from anyway?) Hoo haa.
[See also ScreenIt's review]
But I can't go through all the differences here - as the heading suggests I have something to say about one particular member of the (quadroped) cast. I'll just mention that the new ending comes as a kind of Deus ex Machina that really has nothing to do with the actions of the dogs - that's the problem, not how serious it is for the De Vils.

The eighteenth dalmatian. If you have only seen either movie or heard the Norwegian radio play, you may think there were 99 puppies in the story. That is not quite right - there were 97 puppies and four adults. First, of course, there were Pongo and his wife Missis. Yes, Missis - that was apparently both her name and her title. (If we assume that dogs take their owners' family names, that would mean there were two Missis Dearlys in the house... but I digress.) [Occasionally, this is why I slighty mangled the quote above to avoid confusing you too early - it really goes "Mrs. Dearly and Missis had also..."] They had fifteen puppies - that was one number the movie makers got right for a change. But then it gets slightly more complicated. Of course no single bitch can bring up fifteen puppies on her own, so the Dearlys started looking for another dog to help. They were unsuccessful until one night Mrs. Dearly came home with a dirty stray she had found on the road, who turned out to be just the dog they were looking for - she was even a dalmatian! The eighteenth dalmatian. They decided to adopt her, and called her Perdita after a Shakespeare character who in turn got her name from the Latin word for "lost". (More of Smith's humour: Pongo approves of the name - "For though he had very little Latin beyond "Cave canem" he had, as a young dog, devoured Shakespeare (in a tasty leather binding).")
So - we have a character with a beautiful name and a perfectly good reason for having just that name. And what do they do? Ruin it all, not just by writing Perdita out of the story and giving her name to Missis - who has positively no reason for being called "lost" at all - but also by shortening (read: amputating) the name to "Perdy"! Makes you want to bite someone's leg, doesn't it?

Then, of course, the numbers 19 through 100 are covered by the other puppies, and the last of the Hundred And One does not turn up until the last chapter which is in fact titled "The Hundred And Oneth Dalmatian", but I'm not going to tell you who that is, just in case you should need that extra little incentive to hunt down the book and read it. (Just don't treat it the way Pongo treated Shakespeare!)

The first heading of this page may need a little explanation. Even though a classic novel and two movies ought to have made the name of the breed a household word, many people still don't know how to spell it and put an o in the end rather than an a, making it sort of rhyme with words like damnation. Thence, dalm all misspellers, particularly the Americons. [Some take it a bit more humorously, though...]

Speaking of humour... Fetch!!

If you have not read the book and/or don't know much about dalmatians you may wonder about my choice of background and animation - aren't dalmatians black and white?
Well, most of them are. Some are brown and white, or liver spotted to use the official term. Now let's see if you can guess what type Perdita was!