And once again I stretch the term "pulp fantasy" to the breaking point. I am nothing if not painfully consistent in my eccentricities. Perhaps I should simply rename this feature "Appendix N" or something similar and be done with it, since it's (generally) about the books and other media that influenced the creation of Dungeons & Dragons.
That's why I bring up the 1959 animated film Sleeping Beauty. I recall Gary Gygax's having said that he watched and enjoyed Walt Disney's fairytale films, particularly Snow White. Indeed, I have a recollection that he credited several Disney films with having exercised a powerful effect on his imagination. One of Gary's oft-repeated contentions was that many of D&D's iconic elements derived from so many sources, often going back to his childhood, that it was difficult to disentangle them and claim that this or that was its "true" inspiration. I find that contention very plausible, as I know very well from my own experiences.
Consequently, it's hard for me to watch Sleeping Beauty and not see in it images and ideas that may well have made their way into D&D, if only sub-consciously. Sleeping Beauty was and is my favorite of Disney's fairytale films. There are many reasons for this, including Eyvind Earle's sumptuous art direction, which makes the movie look like a medieval illuminated manuscript come to life. When I am not in a deep swords-and-sorcery mode, my vision of the "D&D world" shares a lot with this film. It's a rare example of my having a model that's rooted not in the written word but in a visual medium, which speaks to just how much I like Sleeping Beauty and its look.
The character of the evil fairy Maleficent is certainly the most explicitly diabolical of all Disney's villains -- she calls upon "all the powers of Hell" in the film -- with all the trappings one now associates with the Dark Lord archetype, including hordes of bestial, orc-like minions. She wields remarkably D&D-like magic, being able to teleport, throw lightning bolts, and polymorph herself. It's this last ability where another possible D&D connection appears. The black dragon into which Maleficent transforms herself spits a fiery liquid that I feel might have been the inspiration for the acid breath of the game's black dragon. Maleficent also sports two horns on her draconic head, just as does D&D's black dragon, the only evil dragon species to have such an arrangement.
Disney films have a much-deserved reputation for being light and airy, but Sleeping Beauty, though far from being "dark," nevertheless includes moments of surprising gravity. Prince Philip's battle with the dragon is rather intense for a children's film and most of the scenes in which Maleficent appears are cast in ominous shadows. Her defeat is inevitable according to the demands of the fairytale format, but I feel the movie somehow manages to make one believe, if only for an instant, that evil might well prevail -- quite an achievement in my opinion and one I think many referees would do well to emulate.