Herman Schultheis and the The lost Notebook
Reading through The Lost Notebook: Herman Schultheis and the Secrets of Walt Disney’s Movie Magic, John Canemaker paints a picture of a rather curious man. A self-aggrandizing and maybe even delusional character, Schultheis was undoubtably enthusiastic and keen to get involved with the burgeoning film industry of the 1930s. Through countless experiments with new sound technologies and special effects photography, he hoped to find a home for his creative energy and permanent work within one of the many new studios.
Clearly knowledgable in many of the required technical fields of the time, he comes across as a Jack of All Trades – someone who didn’t easily fit into the studios the hired him, but he did enjoy a productive period at Walt Disney working on classics such as Fantasia, Pinocchio, Dumbo and Bambi. Unknown to others at the time, Schultheis was also keeping a scrapbook of his experiences. Eventually hoping sell it back to Disney as a potential training manual, it collects photos, detailed technical notes and sketches that now offer a treasure trove of information on how these great animated classics were made.
Thought to be lost when Herman Schultheis disappeared into in the Guatemalan jungle in 1955, this notebook was discovered amongst his remaining estate in 1990, and while available to view at the Walt Disney Museum, has remained unpublished until now. What we end up with is a beautiful coffee table book in which John Canemaker guides the us through the meticulous details – serving as both unrivaled insight into animated film production and a fascinating biography of a man who, despite his best efforts, never quite made it in Hollywood. Highly recommended.