Cruella De Vil
Otherwise Known As: That Devil Woman (by Perdita)
Premiered in: 101 Dalmatians (1961)
Voiced By: Betty Lou Gerson
Honors: 39th Greatest Movie Villain (AFI’s 100 Years…. 100 Heroes and Villains)
Ironic though it may sound, Cruella De Vil is in an incredibly roundabout way the originator of the “Villain Songs” often found in later Disney films, animated or otherwise. While not the singer herself, the song that bears her name is easily one of the most recognized villain songs amongst Disney Villains to date and defines the entirety of her character in its lyrics. Ironically, Cruella is one of the few Disney Villains never outright confronted by the heroes of the story. In point of fact, both Pongo and Perdita do their absolute best to flee Cruella at every opportunity, fearing her far more than her lunk headed minions easily.
Cruella’s motivation for the entirety of her film is the creation of a fur coat made up of ninety-nine Dalmatian puppies. By her own admittance, Cruella is obsessed with furs to such a degree that I wouldn’t at all be surprised if she owns a coat made up of every furred animal on the planet. Still… what’s rather puzzling to me is that contrary to what many might assume, aside from the puppies of Pongo and Perdita, Cruella legally purchased the other eighty-four. Yes, her coat required ninety-nine puppies but honestly, given that she had so many to start with, you can’t honestly tell me that she had exhausted every avenue in finding and purchasing fifteen more. Either she was really impatient in wanting her coats or she, quite possibly, had a client whom that would not take well to any delays.
Seriously, how in the world were those two ever schoolyard friends? It had to have been either when they were kids or something because could you imagine hanging around Cruella with her signature smoking pipe in hand? For pity’s sake, whatever it is she’s smoking, it’s emits green smoke!
Ahem, moving on… It can also be argued that Cruella’s minions set the standard of paired thugs, that being one tall, lanky, and possessing of something akin to intelligence and the other being short, pudgy, and incredibly dim until comedic timing otherwise calls for flashes of insane brilliance. Jasper and Horace Badun do their best to follow Cruella’s demands, and are chiefly responsible for watching over the puppies at Cruella’s former home, Hell Hall prior to and following the kidnapping of the final fifteen puppies.
Yes, I kid you not Cruella’s old family home was named “Hell Hall”. Not that surprising when one considers her name but I digress.
What’s rather strange to me is that Cruella not only demands that the two be the ones to kill the puppies but to skin them and make coats out of them as well, going so far as to threaten police action upon them if they refuse. Now, I’ll admit, the two might just be capable of killing puppies but skinning them and making one coat out of them, let alone half-a-dozen? Methinks that someone switched the green stuff out of Cruella’s pipe if you catch my drift.
Ultimately, and rather ironically, it is Cruella’s own actions that do her in. She’s driven to such extremes in catching the fleeing puppies that she honestly tries to drive the lorry truck their hiding in off the road. Incredibly, and rather lucky on all their parts, Jasper and Horace end up colliding with Cruella and sending the whole lot of them into a ditch. We last see Cruella lambasting the pair of them whilst breaking down into manic sobs. It’d be kind of sad if it weren’t so poetic considering how she drives like a woman possessed…