Steve Daly
December 15, 2006 AT 05:00 AM EST

Your Host, Walt Disney

Current Status
In Season
Walt Disney

We gave it an A-

He typically wore a suit and tie on his long-running TV show. But Walt Disney always sounded like he had his shirtsleeves rolled up, so adept was he at affecting a jaunty, avuncular demeanor. Anyone who reads Neal Gabler’s excellent new biography Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination will know that around colleagues, Uncle Walt was more likely to turn cranky and demanding than to be relaxed or kindly. It’s fascinating, then, to see what a charming actor the man was in Your Host, Walt Disney, a roundup of five programs circa 1956-65 that flack what were then Disney’s latest movies and theme-park attractions. You can skip the gushy intros by Leonard Maltin and go straight to the spectacle of Disney perfecting the modern infomercial, making himself a star as he does it. While these discs are sloppily produced — still-photo galleries include no captions, one program inexcusably has musical segments chopped out, and many clips from movies made in color have been left in black and white — they nonetheless make up a don’t-miss collection. If you want to know the public figure Gabler so nimbly deconstructs, this is a great place to start.

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