Five Favorite Films

Five Favorite Films with John Lasseter

The movies that influenced the man who transformed animation.

by | November 21, 2008 | Comments

Primarily known for co-founding Pixar and revolutionizing the animation
medium after directing Toy Story (along with its sequel, A Bug’s Life, and Cars), John Lasseter
took over the wheel at Disney animation studios’ as their Chief Creative
Officer, entrusted with reversing the tide of their direct-to-DVD sequelitis and diminishing impact on feature animation. So it’s probably no coincidence
that Bolt, Disney Animation’s first Certified Fresh feature in over six
years, is also their first to have been fully supervised by Lasseter. Starring the voices of John Travolta and Miley Cyrus,
Bolt (opening today) centers around a thespian dog who, with the help of a
world-weary cat and a fanboy hamster, explores America beyond the confines
of his TV set.

We spoke with Lasseter in his Burbank office for his five favorite
movies of all time. He agreed to list them but with one request: “In a John
Lasseter top five, I would put a short in front of each of these. Typically,
these are Chuck Jones shorts. Can’t have a top five without having the

Dumbo (1941, 97% Tomatometer)

Dumbo is my favorite movie of all time. A remarkable motion picture. Just over 60 minutes, it’s so tight in terms of storytelling. It’s like [snaps fingers]. When you have kids and you watch
Dumbo, it really nails you because there’s that “Baby Mine” sequence. I like [Dumbo] because it’s the most cartoony of Disney features. I like it because the main character doesn’t talk. Such a wonderful film. It is very funny.
Great music. It also really moves you. It has a really huge heart. Walt Disney always said that for every laugh, there should be a tear. I live by that.

Lasseter’s bonus short:
Rabbit Seasoning

Star Wars (1977,
95% Tomatometer)

Star Wars
Probably everybody has that on their list. [Star Wars] came out and I just finished my sophomore year at CalArts. The May of ’77, saw it opening weekend at the Chinese Theatre. It worked in so many ways, but one of the things personally [that] was so inspiring [was] how it entertained an audience to a new level. I was there with a packed audience. I waited six hours. Towards the climax, when Luke is in the X-Wing and he’s going down the trench, I was just shaking I was so excited. And I’d never seen an audience so excited. First of all, it was everybody, from kids to adults, teenagers. Everybody was going crazy for this film. The quality of the storytelling, where it’s one foot in sort of the past and one foot in the future, I was so impressed by that. I came out and said, “That’s what I want to do with animation.” Many of my friends left animation [because of
Star Wars] and went to actual special effects. At that time, animation was thought of just for kids. I saw this and said, “No, no, I want to entertain audiences.” That’s all I think about when I make my movies.

Bonus short:
What’s Opera, Doc?

(1941, 100% Tomatometer)

Sullivan's Travels

I saw this for the first time at CalArts [and] since then I’ve become a big fan of all Preston Sturges films. Again, I [had] already chosen what I wanted to do for a living but [this] story touched me so deeply.

Here’s a guy who makes comedies during the Depression and he’s so isolated in Hollywood [that] he sets out to learn what’s going on with people. He becomes a hobo. And he ends up way in the South and [is] put into this work prison. And everyone in Hollywood believes that he’s dead, that a hobo stole his coat and was killed by a train. And so he’s there and [he can’t] get word back that he’s still alive. It’s a horrible situation. For Christmas Eve, at the depth of his misery, a black church in the segregated South invites all the prisoners out. And they sit there and what they watch is a Pluto cartoon. It’s the famous scene of Pluto getting the flypaper stuck on him and he can’t get it off. And [the audience] starts howling with laughter. Howling with laughter. People who you wouldn’t think would still have laughter in their bodies. And Sullivan came out of this and gets back to Hollywood and everyone’s like, “Oh, you had this horrible situation, you must make a great drama.” And he goes, “No, I’m going to make a comedy. Because that’s what the world needs.”

Bonus short:
A Bear for

Deeds Goes to Town
 (1936, 93% Tomatometer)

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

This is between Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life and
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. Hmm, I’m going to go with Mr. Deeds. Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur. It’s just an amazing film. It’s very funny. Longfellow Deeds is the main character, Gary Cooper plays him and he’s so appealing. I think it’s the definition of appeal.

So Longfellow Deeds is this guy who lives in this tiny town, he’s makes a living writing greeting cards. Just a sweet guy. There’s a distant relative who’s this gigantic millionaire. Has a huge fortune. So this industrialist dies in New York City and they trace [him] down, he’s the only heir to this huge fortune. So they bring him to New York and now he runs this company. [But] this really ace reporter for the local paper wants to get the dirt on him, and [she’s played by] Jean Arthur. So she waits for him to come out and she acts like she’s starving, like she’s a homeless woman during the Depression. So he picks her up and feeds her some food and they start doing things together. And he absolutely falls in love with her. But, so, there’s all this dirt that’s coming out in the newspapers and they don’t know how it’s happening. But the scene…it starts very funny, but, again, it’s that heart, it’s balancing humor and heart that Frank Capra did so well, the scene in which he finds out the woman he’s fallen in love with is actually the one who’s doing all the dirt is one of the most emotional scenes in the film. And it’s so underplayed. So beautifully underplayed. He gets behind this column but you know he’s crying. And he can’t bear anyone to see him. It’s so incredibly moving and touching.

Bonus short:
Rabbit of

The General (1927,
91% Tomatometer)

The General
I’m going to choose Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill Jr. It
was either Steamboat Bill Jr. or The General. You know, let me change it to
. Love the train. Anyways, Steamboat Bill Jr.-slash-The General. It’s
about Buster Keaton. He was one of the great inspirations in my career, my
life, in studying his works. He’s like a human cartoon character. But, more
importantly, he developed character and personality. These films are so
appealing because of the personality of the characters he created. His comic
timing is staggering.

Bonus short:
Zoom and Bored

Check out more info on John Lasseter
here, and view pictures and trailers from
Bolt. Bolt opens nationwide

John Lasseter accepting a Certified Fresh award.


Want more Five Favorite Films? Check out previous installments with Robert Pattinson, Kevin Smith, Guillermo del Toro, and Judd Apatow.

Tag Cloud

Dark Horse Comics casting sports talk show hist Black Mirror Rock 2018 A24 zero dark thirty Biopics 2020 Arrowverse Reality Competition Mudbound Netflix Hulu Awards The Arrangement game show breaking bad free movies Sundance TV YA video 2015 Teen 2017 Cannes Discovery Channel GIFs binge foreign Amazon Prime Certified Fresh TIFF Academy Awards New York Comic Con National Geographic First Look crossover WGN Crackle comiccon President tv talk docudrama green book Calendar Pet Sematary YouTube Red El Rey Drama politics Tomatazos 007 doctor who TCA 2017 batman FOX Fall TV WarnerMedia transformers romantic comedy X-Men spy thriller Toys Marvel space Rom-Com comics Animation what to watch sequel The Walking Dead Captain marvel Fox News Summer YouTube Premium USA cinemax Sneak Peek Starz Emmy Nominations Walt Disney Pictures teaser Schedule streaming movies Rocketman Chilling Adventures of Sabrina IFC Films Showtime movie Interview SDCC Marathons social media ESPN Ovation Film Festival sag awards canceled TV shows RT21 Esquire FXX Sony Pictures Quiz cars golden globes Winners diversity Song of Ice and Fire Superheroe unscripted Endgame Apple TV+ series Shondaland 71st Emmy Awards Tarantino Nickelodeon blaxploitation harry potter Adult Swim crime adventure children's TV Infographic FX sitcom Pirates elevated horror award winner DirecTV Nat Geo Disney Plus dc halloween Netflix Christmas movies reboot Sundance Now documentary directors USA Network CBS All Access cartoon Music name the review Cosplay HBO Max spain anthology jamie lee curtis Marvel Studios Peacock CNN PaleyFest science fiction LGBTQ Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt television IFC Photos toy story biography TCA Paramount Network mutant Masterpiece zombie YouTube Oscars war Lifetime Christmas movies Western justice league Amazon Prime Video blockbuster crime thriller Podcast Bravo true crime Holidays Mary poppins Warner Bros. kids CMT travel Amazon Musical Trophy Talk boxoffice crime drama CBS Lucasfilm Election LGBT historical drama Sci-Fi disaster dramedy Polls and Games Year in Review book Disney Channel Character Guide Extras DC Universe VICE stand-up comedy ghosts Action Comedy Central Superheroes nature Crunchyroll Trivia Disney canceled ABC Chernobyl ITV First Reviews MCU Classic Film werewolf theme song vampires Fantasy Kids & Family renewed TV shows History OWN screen actors guild Apple TV Plus Martial Arts Turner Classic Movies Grammys Star Wars psycho Musicals AMC BBC America Lionsgate Rocky BET Film Freeform Heroines Ellie Kemper miniseries Writers Guild of America south america 45 Marvel Television revenge Sundance Watching Series dragons Elton John SXSW period drama spider-man Horror TBS OneApp discovery ratings technology Brie Larson Country Christmas Pop strong female leads Premiere Dates Food Network finale Pride Month TLC spanish language adaptation robots ABC Family SundanceTV 2016 HBO police drama Disney streaming service quibi slashers Video Games comic The CW cancelled TV shows Mystery Cartoon Network Lifetime festivals Mary Tyler Moore Vudu medical drama VH1 Hallmark Christmas movies Columbia Pictures thriller Box Office MTV NBC 20th Century Fox DC streaming service Winter TV E! Anna Paquin TCM 21st Century Fox Binge Guide Tubi CW Seed cults versus latino screenings BBC christmas movies psychological thriller Set visit TV renewals Star Trek joker Comic Book anime cancelled DC Comics Thanksgiving political drama game of thrones based on movie San Diego Comic-Con GLAAD TCA Winter 2020 Reality Opinion NYCC Turner aliens natural history TV Land spinoff PBS Hallmark Tumblr DGA Super Bowl cats hispanic Pixar indie Logo Spectrum Originals 2019 APB Universal TNT rotten movies we love independent Comedy romance Paramount Epix Valentine's Day cancelled television serial killer Disney+ Disney Plus facebook Best and Worst Mary Poppins Returns Apple Television Academy RT History Syfy Awards Tour Nominations Trailer Spring TV Ghostbusters Red Carpet Britbox composers American Society of Cinematographers Holiday Spike A&E mockumentary 24 frames supernatural cancelled TV series E3 Comics on TV dceu cops See It Skip It Mindy Kaling Acorn TV witnail singing competition GoT zombies Shudder Creative Arts Emmys TruTV TV The Purge Stephen King Baby Yoda MSNBC cooking Countdown Avengers Emmys Women's History Month The Witch Family richard e. Grant animated