Thumper from Bambi: Peter Behn Q & A

Bambi and Thumper in Bambi. Courtesy Walt Disney Home Video.

Peter Behn was only 4 years old when he got offered the chance to voice the adorable rabbit Thumper in Walt Disney’s Bambi. By the time he was done his recording duties two years later, Behn and his family had moved away from Hollywood, and his ambitions to continue acting were gone. As he got older he rarely talked about portraying the iconic character, and only on occasion did it come up amongst friends and loved ones. With Bambi celebrating its 78th anniversary this year, Behn, opened up about his part in Disney history and how it all came to be.

Bamcat.com spoke with Behn during his press tour in Toronto. Read our Q&A below.

Bamcat.com: Do you remember how you got the role of Thumper?

Peter Behn: My father was a screenwriter in Hollywood working for Howard Hughes. He wrote the screenplay for Hell’s Angels and heard that Disney was having a major production forthcoming, and that they were auditioning for the part of Bambi. He took me over to audition, but my voice was not great for Bambi. The animators heard it and felt my voice would be perfect for the rabbit.

Bamcat: You were quite young at the time, were you a fan of Disney films?

PB: I was 4 to 6 during the making of the movie. I was just a kid and didn’t really know about them at the time. I had seen Mickey Mouse.

Basmcat: How was the experience for you at the time?

PB: I just know that when I was in the recording studio with the director, who was reading the lines with me, I was sort of copying them back at him and we made a game out of everything. The whole experience was like play and fun instead of work. I was a perky kid I guess and that’s what made my voice so good for Thumper.

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Bamcat: Did your friends at the time know you were working on an animated film?

PB: Most of my friends didn’t know about it. It wasn’t something that was a subject that came up much and I didn’t talk about it. It was only later in life that I’ve been willing to talk about it. My friends now think it’s kind of cool, but not much is made of it.

Bamcat: What was your reaction to the film when you first saw it?

PB: I was pretty young and even though it was my voice I was hearing, I thought the movie was pretty exciting and scary at the end.

Bamcat: Does it surprise you the movie has lived on over the course of 70 years?

PB: In retrospect, it’s not so surprising. It really does have an enduring quality to it that seems to work for each generation of kids that comes along. And this latest version on Blu-ray, particularly if you compare it to the previous DVD or VHS releases, they were able to bring the quality of the movie up to current standards. Considering its 78 years old it’s pretty amazing. There is something captivating about the way it was drawn and scripted, and the voices, it has all held together and is very rewarding for me to be part of that legacy.

Bamcat: Thumper became an iconic character after the film came out, why did you not stick with voice work or acting?

PB: My father had decided to leave Hollywood. He was disenchanted with what he felt was the direction of Hollywood’s life and he didn’t want me to become a Hollywood brat. So he went back to academia. He was a college professor at the University of Arizona in Tuscan for a number of years after we left and then we moved East and he became a writer again. He took me away from it so there was no temptation for me to continue and I never went back to it.

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Bamcat: If someone offered you a role now would you take it?

PB: At my age? I don’t think so. I would do a voice thing happily.

Bamcat: How has doing the voice of Thumper changed your life, if at all?

PB: Actually, until recently it really hasn’t. I no longer hide my existence as Thumper, but I don’t go around bragging about it. If people talk about it or want to talk about it, I will. And it does bring some joy to people who feel they have “met Thumper”. But really it has not changed my life.

Bambi is now available on Blu-ray in Bambi I and Bambi II. Please enjoy the trailer below:

Death Wish (1974): It started a genre

A scene from Death Wish – Courtesy of Warner Home Video.

My second child came into the world this past week and I’ve been up with him into the wee hours nightly ever since. While the lack of sleep sucks, this has allowed me to watch a ton of crap I normally wouldn’t have time to during normal hours. Charles Bronson’s 1974 revenge thriller Death Wish is one of those movies. Before continuing I must admit I had never seen Death Wish. It’s been on my must-watch list for years. I believe I’ve seen a few of the sequels too, but never the original. So I bought the whole set and I will start at the beginning.

Death Wish opens with a seriously ridiculous vacation scene in Hawaii where Paul and Joanna Kersey (Bronson and Hope Lange) show the audience how in love they are as they frolic on the beach. Shortly after they return home to New York City (where we learn crime is out of control by a co-worker of Paul’s) a bunch of thugs (one of which is played by a young and goofy Jeff Goldblum) follow Joanna and their adult daughter Carol (Kathleen Tolan) home, and then attack them, rape Carol, and leave them both for dead. Joanna dies, Carol becomes a vegetable, and Paul turns into a bloodthirsty vigilante, gunning down every clown who gets into his face.

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Since Death Wish came out we’ve seen similar movies hit theatres at least once a year. Some of them work (recent fare like Taken and I Saw the Devil are great examples), but most of them can’t compete because they don’t have Bronson and his crazy tough guy skin leading the chaos. And without Bronson, Death Wish probably wouldn’t have been such an awesome flick that even a 5-day-old would stop crying to enjoy in the middle of the night.

Even the trailer is intense:

I Am Number Four: Lots of scary-looking aliens

Alex Pettyfer in a scene from I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four – It would be easy to take a number two all over I Am Number Four. The writing is horrendous and most of the acting is terrible (with the exception of Timothy Olyphant, who is great in everything he does). Yet, no matter how much I want to hate it, part of me actually dug the Twilight90210BuffyStar Wars style of it, and the third act was so totally nuts (and loud) it made up for all the other issues. Based on the Pittacus Lore novel, and directed by D.J. Caruso (Disturbia), the film follows an alien (played by Alex Pettyfer) living on Earth disguised as a teenager. He’s being hunted by bigger, more scary-looking aliens as he is one of nine special survivors from his home planet (the first three have been found and killed, he is number four). Of course, he falls in love with a girl (played by Dianna Agron) and decides to fight to protect her instead of running and hiding from the hunters. Keep in mind this is meant for teenagers, who I’m sure will enjoy it much more than anyone over the age of 25.

3 out of 5 stars.

Please enjoy the trailer for I Am Number Four below:

Get Low: Weak and lifeless

A scene from Get Low – Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classic

Get Low (Blu-ray) – Set in Tennessee during the 1930s, Get Low tells the story of an old, cranky hermit (played by Robert Duvall) who wants to throw a funeral for himself before he dies in order to get something off his chest. He approaches a local funeral home director (played by Bill Murray) to set it all up for him, and then proceeds to be difficult during the planning of it all. With the hype surrounding Get Low I expected a lot more out of it and was surprised with the result. It tries too hard to be both a comedy and a drama, and is a complete snooze-fest that grated on my nerves from beginning to end. The performances from Duvall, Murray, and Sissy Spacek, who plays an old friend of Duvall’s character, were also very weak and lifeless.

The Blu-ray release isn’t one to write home about either. The image and sound are mediocre, and the content is not required viewing in HD. Special features include commentary with actors Robert Duvall and Sissy Spacek, director Aaron Schneider, and producer Dean Zanuck, cast and crew Q&A’s, making-of featurettes, and more. Film ** Blu-ray **

(2 out of 5 stars).

Please enjoy the trailer for Get Low below:

All-Star Superman: Super-Meh

A scene from All-Star Superman – Courtesy of Warner Bros. Animation.

All-Star Superman – After Superman (voice of James Denton) saves a team of astronauts heading to the sun, he begins to deteriorate and soon realizes he’s dying. Throw in some ridiculous romance with Lois Lane (voice of Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks), a lame subplot with Lex Luthor (voice of Anthony LaPaglia), and you have one of the most uninspired Warner Premiere titles in the DC Universe.

Unless you’re a huge fan of Superman there is no need to pick this up on Blu-ray. While the 2-D animation is nice, it is not enhanced in high-def at all. Special features include commentary with producer Bruce Timm and writer Grant Morrison, a digital comic, a preview of Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, and more. A regular DVD and digital copy of the movie are also included. ** Blu-ray **

(2 out of 5 stars).

Please enjoy the trailer for All-Star Superman below:

Megamind: Mega maybe

A scene from Megamind – Courtesy of DreamWorks Animation.

Megamind (Blu-ray) – When evil villain Megamind (voice of Will Ferrell) defeats the hero (and his arch-nemesis) Metro Man (voice of Brad Pitt), he soon realizes being the ultimate bad guy is not all it’s cracked up to be (especially when there is no left to stop him). In order to solve this problem, and fix his boredom, he turns a dweeby cameraman into a new hero named Tighten (voice of Jonah Hill). Well, when Tighten can’t have the girl (voice of Tina Fey), he turns evil too and now Megamind is forced to become Metro City’s newest hero. While I enjoyed the animation of Megamind, and thought the voice casting was very well done, I just couldn’t stop thinking how I would have rather been watching Despicable Me again. It’s similar in story and tone, but has so much more heart that it is sure to be celebrated for years to come while Megamind will be forgotten quickly.

As with most recent animated film releases, Megamind looks amazing on Blu-ray. The 1080p picture is crystal clear and shows off the vibrant colours of the film wonderfully. The 7.1 Dolby TrueHD sound mix is also very impressive, and gave my system quite the workout. Special features include an additional adventure with Megamind, a trivia track, a featurette on how-to draw Megamind, a picture-in-picture track with storyboards and behind the scenes footage, and much more. A regular DVD of the film is also included. *** Blu-ray ***

(3 out of 5 stars).

Please enjoy the trailer for Megamind below:

Due Date: Why not tonight?

Zach Galifianakis and Robert Downey Jr. in Due Date –  © 2010 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Legendary Pictures

Due Date (Blu-ray)  – Due Date was good when I saw it in the theatre, but I knew it would be a much better watch at home. Boy, was I right. The film takes the premise of Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987) and replaces Steve Martin and John Candy with Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis. Add to the mix director Todd Phillips (The Hangover), and the film delivers a ton of laughs with some memorable, off-colour, scenes (which all work better from the comfort of your couch).

The Blu-ray release features a clean HD image and decent sound mix. Special features include additional scenes, a gag reel, a special Two and a Half Men scene featuring Galifianakis’s character, and more. A regular DVD and digital copy of the movie are included as well.   *** Blu-ray ***

(3 out of 5 stars).

Please enjoy the trailer for Due Date below:

Small Town Murder Songs: Audio interview with director Ed Gass-Donnelly

Ed Gass-Donnelly and Peter Stormare in Small Town Murder Songs

Small Town Murder Songs is the second feature film from Canadian writer-director Ed Gass-Donnelly. The film follows Walter (Peter Stormare), the sheriff of an Ontario Mennonite town, as he investigates the murder of a young woman while trying to deal with his own inner demons. With solid performances and grim cinematography, mixed with powerful music courtesy of Canadian rockers Bruce Peninsula, it’s an intense film reminiscent of the early work of the Coen brothers.

Bamcat spoke with Gass-Donnelly about Small Town Murder Songs, listen to our audio interview below (10:20 in length).

And here is the trailer for Small Town Murder Songs:

Casino Jack: Skip this fluff

A scene from Casino Jack – © 2010 – ATO Pictures.

Casino Jack – When I lambasted Casino Jack for being too much of a Hollywood movie and not enough of a true biopic, I received a personal email from director George Hickenlooper that came off angry at first and then went into detail of his intentions with the film. Unfortunately, Hickenlooper passed away before I got the chance to discuss it with him further, but my feelings on the movie haven’t changed, and it’s just as annoying now as it was then. The problem is with Kevin Spacey, who plays real-life Washington, D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff got in over his head with greed and ended up in prison because of his involvement with several illegal deals. Spacey plays him like any other character he’s played before and you can’t help but think he’s just playing himself. The saving grace of the film is Barry Pepper, who keeps it somewhat interesting enough to sit through with his portrayal of Abramoff’s lackey, Michael Scanlon. If you’re interested in the subject, skip this fluff and watch the doc Casino Jack and the United States of Money instead.

2 out of 5 stars.

Here is the trailer for Casino Jack and the United States of Money:

And the trailer for Casino Jack:

Dogtooth: Use caution

An image from Dogtooth – © 2009 Kino International.

Dogtooth – It’s been a long time since I’ve been so divided over a movie as much as I am over Dogtooth. Part of me really loved it, while the other part despised the hell out of it. I’m shocked it got nominated for an Oscar (best foreign film), yet at the same time happy the Academy was brave enough to acknowledge it. I’m sure I won’t be alone in my apprehension with it either. The movie, about three teenage children kept locked away from the outside world by their parents in a cult-like compound, is cold, features many awkward sexual scenes, some scenes of incest, and creates an overall uneasy feeling while watching it. But there is something so intriguing and artistic about it that it’s haunted me ever since screening it. No, it’s not for everyone, but if you go in with an open mind you might find the good in it as well.

4 out of 5 stars

Here is the extended trailer for Dogtooth below: