The family oriented company focuses on sex with marketing for ''Dick Tracy,'' ''The Little Mermaid,'' and ''Pretty Woman''
They slink across the screen in drop-dead décolletage. They writhe and wriggle in skimpy getups. They coo hot nothings and necessitate cold showers. Sex sirens of the ’40s? The ’50s? The ’60s?
Try the sex sirens of Walt Disney, circa 1991. The family-oriented company’s corporate kingpins may emphasize Mom and apple pie in their image- making, but its film division is busy serving up possibly more cheesecake per frame than any other major studio. Take Jessica Rabbit, the callipygian bunny-wife with the breathy Kathleen Turner purr. Or Kim Basinger’s wiggly live-action impersonation of Mrs. Rabbit in The Marrying Man, a movie Disney marketeers heralded with print ads featuring Alec Baldwin’s leading lady in a classic Vargas-style illustration.
Last summer’s Dick Tracy — a movie Disney hoped (nay, prayed) the whole family would run to see — flirted with a PG-13 rating for its overheated Warren Beatty/Madonna banter, the latter in a dress cut so low it required glue to keep her breasts in place. This summer, the studio unleashes Jennifer Connelly (The Hot Spot, Career Opportunities) as Jenny Blake, the bombshell girlfriend in The Rocketeer. The movie is based on the cult comic by Dave Stevens, and Connelly’s character is a cleaned-up version of its pinup model, Betty, who in turn was inspired by real-life ’50s nudie queen Betty Page. (Disney changed her name and occupation — she’s now a struggling actress — to avoid any possible legal action from the real Page.)
There’s even a touch of Venus in the poses struck by such wholesome cartoon maidens as Ariel in The Little Mermaid (a direct descendant of Daryl Hannah in Splash, the first Disney Touchstone picture) and Belle in this fall’s Beauty and the Beast. Both heroines were modeled after actress and Spielberg story editor Sherri Stoner. And let’s not forget Julia Roberts, kicking up her thigh-high boots as the hooker with a really swell heart in Touchstone’s Pretty Woman.
A Disney spokesman declined to comment on his studio’s apparent penchant for the pulchritudinous, apart from noting that ”you could look at it either way. You could agree with the notion or not.” Another slice of cheesecake, anyone?