12The Defiant Ones & The Graduate (Toy Story)
Toy Story wasn’t the first movie to feature talking toys, but when Pixar and Disney approached John Lasseter with the idea to create a feature after the success of his short Tin Toy, he took the idea and ran
with it. With the thought of making a buddy comedy, the Pixar crew turned to The Defiant Ones to develop the relationship between Woody and Buzz. Set in 1950s America, the film followed two prisoners who escape from a chain gang -- one black and one white -- who learn to get along. In much the same way, Woody and Buzz were structured to be polar opposites, one old fashioned and the other new age, each one with their respective qualities that come together to create an unlikely friendship.
Despite being a buddy flick, Disney originally envisioned Toy Story as a musical, which eventually led to a negotiation with Pixar. Using The Graduate as a reference point, the studio decided to not have its characters break out into song, rather the music would be played over the actions taking place to show how the toys were feeling. The decision would eventually lead to Randy Newman’s songs being played during pivotal scenes, such as when Buzz learns he can’t fly. Had the reverse decision been made, Pixar’s first film and all that followed could have been very different from what we know today.