Je n'ai pu m'empêcher de vous retranscrire ci dessous l'excellent article sur Dicky Jones rédigé par un journaliste du Telegraph en 2009 intitulé "Pinocchio - Dickie Jones is the boy who gave Pinocchio his voice and his nose" (disponible ici : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/4839418/Dickie-Jones-the-boy-who-gave-Pinocchio-his-voice-and-his-nose.html). Je pense qu'il mériterait à lui seul une traduction !
Pinocchio - Dickie Jones is the boy who gave Pinocchio his voice and his nose
Seventy years on, Dickie Jones talks to Marc Lee about what it was like bringing to life one of Disney's most iconic characters
Pinocchio was the wooden puppet who became a little boy. Dickie Jones was the little boy who became Pinocchio. Walt Disney's second full-length feature was made in the late Thirties, preceded by Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and followed rapidly by Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi – a string of classics that, in half a decade, established Disney's enduring reputation as the master of animated magic.
It's remarkable that, seven decades on, there's still someone around to recall gleefully what it was like to be at the heart of Disney's fantasy factory in its earliest days. Dickie Jones celebrated his 82nd birthday this week. A bright-eyed, diminutive figure, he radiates something of the puppet-boy's eternal youth (and there's a striking resemblance to his near contemporary, Mickey Rooney).
As an 11 year-old, Jones was picked to provide the voice of one of Disney's most iconic characters in a movie described recently by animation historian Jerry Beck as "the Titanic of its day – a mega-blockbuster".
Jones wasn't the first choice for the role. Adult actors had been auditioned during the early stages of development, while Pinocchio's appearance was still being worked on. However, Walt Disney was becoming increasingly concerned that the character wasn't likeable enough; indeed, a lot of the nastiness and cruelty of the original book by the Italian writer Carlo Collodi troubled the filmmaker, and he insisted on wholesale changes.
When his team of artists sketched a sweeter, more appealing Pinocchio, Disney decided he wanted a real, "ordinary" little boy to speak the lines – and Jones got the job.
Not that this little boy was all that ordinary: he'd been a star of the rodeo for almost as long as he'd been out of nappies. "I was billed as the world's youngest trick rider and trick roper," he tells me when we meet at the Disney studios in Burbank, California. And, as he describes the leap he made from his home state of Texas to Tinseltown, real life begins to sound like a movie.
"I was appearing at the Dallas Centennial Rodeo in 1932, and the star attraction was a cowboy called Hoot Gibson. Well, I did my act, popping up on top of a horse, and at the end of the run Hoot says, 'That kid ought to be in the movies.' My mother says, 'Whoopee!' And away we went to Hollywood." By 1934, he was working at Warner Brothers.
And plenty of work came his way. For instance, during the 18 months it took to produce Pinocchio – animation being such a painstaking process – Jones appeared in half-a-dozen other films, including the classic western Destry Rides Again, with James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich, and Frank Capra's great comic drama Mr Smith Goes to Washington, again starring James Stewart.
Jones admits now that the live-action movies were much more fun to work on. "Pinocchio was a tough job for me because I didn't like being so cooped up. I preferred being outdoors all the time – that's why I liked making westerns so much.
"The other studios had places where you could go and hide and run around on the sets. At Warner Brothers, they had Captain Blood's ships at the back of Stage 13, and I'd go and play all over them. You couldn't do that sort of thing at the Disney studio."
Jones recalls his Pinocchio job as time-consuming, although working on an animated film had its advantages: "It was like a radio show. You could read what you had to say; you didn't have to memorise anything."
However, Walt was a renowned perfectionist, and Jones remembers him watching intently from the control booth as the cast recorded their lines. All eyes were on him, and they knew from his expression – a raised eyebrow said it all – when they'd got the scene right.
Disney usually remained remote from the acting talent: "He was always there, but he wasn't a paternal figure; he was the boss." Yet Jones also remembers him as "a very nice guy", who would make time to play games with his juvenile lead.
As well as giving Pinocchio a voice, Jones was called on to provide his character's physical attributes. The puppet's facial features – including the nose that grows alarmingly when he tells a lie – are based on Jones's, as are some of his movements.
Jones remembers one scene in particular, in which Pinocchio dances down the road singing, "Hi, diddly dee, an actor's life for me" with Honest John, the devious fox who spirits him away from the toymaker Geppetto. During production, the animators were having trouble getting it right.
"They threw their hands up in the air," says Jones. "They just couldn't figure out how to do it. So they dressed us up in costume and built a set for the road, and we acted the thing out two or three times until they said, 'Aha! Now we've got it'."
It's an approach that has its modern equivalent in the way Andy Serkis played Gollum in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy – as a computer-generated animation. Not that Dickie Jones has much time for 21st-century filmmaking techniques.
How, I ask, do today's animated movies compare with what Disney was doing all those years ago? "They're terrible," he says. "Modern animation is so flat. It has no life to it." Indeed, he is so disenchanted with the genre that he hasn't even seen Wall.E, which this week won the Oscar for best animated feature film. And it's safe to say he will be unimpressed by the reputedly "dark and twisted" remake of Pinocchio being planned by Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro.
So how many times, over the past 70 years, has he watched his own Pinocchio? "All the way through?" he says, without missing a beat. "Once. Last month." It's such an astonishing revelation: can it really be true? I peer very closely, but, no, his nose doesn't even twitch.
'Pinocchio 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition' is released on Disney Blu-ray and DVD on March 9"
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