Peter Pan - Disney Films Project

We've been a little hit and miss on our Disney Films Project the last few weeks and now I'm trying to get caught up on our reviews. 


Katie's thoughts

Peter Pan is one of the films you think of when Disney Classics are mentioned. I've always enjoyed the film and Captain Hook is one of my all-time favorite villains, especially because of his relationship with the crocodile who wants to finish him off. Tinkerbell has never been on my favorite list because she's a little too snooty for me. I also struggle with Peter himself as he isn't all that likeable. I find it interesting that I enjoy the scenes with Hook and Smee more than the ones centered around Peter. The children are delightful though and I especially love the nursemaid dog Nana.  This movie is well done, but it's not anything that thrills me. I give it 6 out of 10 Mickeys on our rating scale.


Second opinion with Alex

We're back to the good films.

Quite frankly, this is a much better use of songs, plot, and focus. I had "a moment" during one of the more understated tracks, "Your Mother and Mine." 

The plot is a good execution, and there's reason why the whole thing holds up, even today. How do you describe a classic? I struggle to find a way. 

I will admit, any film that has such powerful story at work is brilliance in action. The adaptation team knew what they were doing this time!

This film, I give 8 of ten Mickeys. Points were taken off for the depiction of the Indians, but this film is near perfection. It even redeems Wendy's actress, formerly in the role of Alice.

Riley's viewpoint

I like Peter Pan and appreciate the classic story about the struggle of not wanting to grow up. We all want to keep living our childhood, but when Wendy decides she is ready to grow up, we can also relate to that as well. There's a good balance of emotions in this film. Tinkerbell is an interesting character that I both liked and disliked at the same time. She's a diva, but a cute one. Hook is funny because he's such a stress case all the time. I also like Smee and find him quite entertaining as well. This film gets 7 out of 10 Mickeys from me. 

Peter Pan was one of Walt Disney's favorite stories and he worked for years to get the rights to produce this film. The Disney blog even says that Walt Disney played Peter Pan in a school play!

Even though Tinkerbell is not my favorite character, we have some fun memories around her because Riley dressed up in a darling Tinkerbell dress for Halloween when she was three years old. She fell in love with this dress at The Disney Store and she was the perfect little pixie in it!

Think of the happiest things ... it's the same as having wings!

Alice in Wonderland - Disney Films Project

This was one movie that Alex and Riley were not looking forward to watching for our Disney Films Project, but for me it was like revisiting memories from long ago. Alice in Wonderland is a very unusual film in the Disney canon. It was not well received on first release, but has later become a cult classic. It is also regarded as a masterpiece in animation. 


Katie's thoughts

There is definitely a difference of opinion in our house on this film. I will readily admit that it is a very strange film! My brother watched it almost every day when he was just a few years old though so it has a lot of memories for me. I've come to appreciate it's wackiness over the years and I enjoy it for the most part. It's not a fabulous film, but it's fun in it's own way. As a very minor point - I really like the color scheme and art of this film. How's that for obscure? I give this one 5 out of 10 Mickeys. 


Second opinion with Alex

Ladies and Gentlemen, an unpopular opinion.

Yeah, I don't really like this movie. Never have! Walt Disney didn't either, you know. 

You'd probably be interested to find out the hours of songs, scrapped sequences, and additional behind the scenes stuff. STOP BEING INTERESTED, that's the message of the film. Curiosity before reason is a "bad thing", so they say.

The general nonsense of the books is benign. This is more territorial, more in-your-face. And frankly, I don't like it. My greatest grief is with The Holy Terror, a nightmare commonly known as The Queen of Hearts. 

I reserve my 1 out of 10 mickey rating for this movie, with it's one redeeming factor being some of the Cheshire Cat. But not all. If I had the resources, I'd make my own, better version.

Yours, Alex Nelson. (Let the internet arguments begin.)


Riley's viewpoint

There are some very good lessons and morals to the story presented, although it's definitely a strange film. The animation was really fabulous and I noticed the art style throughout the movie. While I can appreciate a lot of good things about this movie, it is just a little too out there weird for me. I give it 4 out of 10 Mickeys.


I've mentioned that I have a history with this film. I even created a scrapbook page about it that is on display in my page gallery on my website.

I have a set of Alice in Wonderland figures from The Disney Store that I've enjoyed photographing.

Riley has some really cute Alice in Wonderland Tsums Tsums

And I find it quite funny that Alex has a Cheshire Cat in his plush collection since he dislikes the movie so much!

Cinderella - Disney Films Project

 We are so happy to be in the classics section of our Disney Films Project!  Cinderella is not only the telling of a fairy tale, it was actually the movie that saved the Disney studios. The company was on the verge of bankruptcy after several box office disappointments and the struggle of the war years and the package films era. Cinderella was a commercial success that was received well by the critics and the public alike. It is considered to be one of the great classics in animation films.


Katie's thoughts

This is the type of film that made Disney a beloved name in the world of family entertainment. The story is simple, the songs are sweet, and the message is a good one. While the original fairy tale has a few more gruesome elements that were wisely left out of this telling, it still tells the basic story with the addition of some very Disney touches. Not everyone loves the mice (see Alex's review) but I think they add a delightful element to the story and they were always my favorite part of the film.

The scene where Cinderella is transformed is one of my favorites, and it turns out that it was Walt's all-time favorite piece of animation.  I have also always loved the scene where the spell is broken and Cinderella is left with nothing but a smashed pumpkin and a glass slipper because she is grateful for what she was given. She doesn't cry that it ended, but says thanks and shows gratitude for being able to live such a dream, even for a very short time.

It's not the most perfect of the Disney films, but it's so important to the history of the studio and it's very well done, especially for the time period. I'm giving this one 9 out of 10 Mickeys.


Second opinion with Alex

I am so glad that we got out of the package film era!

This film has excellent technical focus, and some of the best animation out there. My one peeve is the mice, specifically the mice singing. Too much Alvin and the Chipmunks for me.

What else can I say? This film has the rare distinction of saving Disney from bankruptcy. And all characters have good development. I give this film 7 out of 10 Mickeys. One of the cornerstones of the collection, and has appeal to adults as well.

Riley's viewpoint

Cinderella is one of my all-time favorites and I have loved this film for a long time. It's a classic story that you can revisit any time in your life and find something to relate to. We all feel like Cinderella at times. The mice add so much fun and comic relief to the story and it would fall flat without them. This gets 8 out of 10 Mickeys from me.

Cinderella's castle is the symbol of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom park and Tokyo Disneyland and has come to be an important icon of the entire Disney universe. 

Earlier this year, I took my Cinderella figurine with me to the Grand America Hotel and let her attend another grand ball.

She really needs to get out more!

Of course, my favorite Cinderella memory is the time that Riley (at four years of age) wanted to be Cinderella for Halloween and was so excited to have me be her "berry Godmother" - That's what she thought her name was. So sweet! We got the Cinderella dress from The Disney Store and I found the blue sparkly fabric at Joann's and made my own costume.




The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad - Disney Films Project

We are so happy to be entering into a fun phase in our Disney Films Project and even though this is technically a package film, both of the stories are classics in our book. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad are shared together in this collection under the device of being stories shared from a common library.


Katie's thoughts

The Wind in the Willows was a favorite book of mine as a child and I've always enjoyed Disney's portrayal of the story of Mr. Toad in this feature. I especially love the minor supporting characters of Mole and Rat and MacBadger. Toad is way too naughty of course, but when he dresses up like a woman and escapes from prison, he's quite hilarious! I definitely enjoy this more than my kids do and maybe that's because I grew up watching it with my younger brother. Good memories for me.

I actually remember watching Ichabod a few times around Halloween and being genuinely scared by it. That Headless Horseman seemed so real, especially when Ichabod looks down his collar. It still spooks me a bit! There isn't much to the story I guess, but it's one that sticks with you for a long time.

Neither one of these films represent the best work of the studio, but I enjoy them both quite a bit. I'm giving this collection 6 out of 10 Mickeys.

Second opinion with Alex

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad also only contains two shorts, but these are longer, to the point where they could stand on their own. This film finally strikes balance between the two segments, namely, as two separate books in a library. I give this 4 out of 10 Mickey ears, and it's a good closing for our package films, at least for now. 

Riley's viewpoint

I really enjoyed the Legend of Sleepy Hollow and I feel like it's really the only Disney feature that is truly spooky. It's a great Halloween movie and the story lingers with you for a long time. Mr. Toad is a fairly lightweight presentation and I wanted a deeper story. It seemed like an excuse to show a misbehaving Toad and his horse. Overall, the ranking I give this collection 3 out of 10 Mickey ears.

These stories are not part of the Disney mainstream today and many people only know of Toad's existence because of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in some of the Disney parks. It's a "dark ride" and it even includes a visit to Hell which is sure to scar some younger riders. No idea why that got included? It is one of the original rides that was operational on opening day of Disneyland in 1955. 

Ichabod used to show up regularly on the Disney Channel around the Halloween season but I'm not sure if they still play it anymore? It will get you in a spooky mood for sure!

Melody Time - Disney Films Project

We finished up the musical collection package films in our Disney Films Project. Melody Time was a mixed bag with a few favorites and and some ho-hum selections.


The seven "mini-musical" stories are outlined below:

Once Upon a Wintertime
This segment features Frances Langford singing the title song about two romantic young lovers in December. Joe shows off on the ice for his lover, Jenny, and near-tragedy and a timely rescue ensues. This short is also featured in Very Merry Christmas Songs, which is part of Disney Sing Along Songs, as a background movie for the song Jingle Bells.

Bumble Boogie
This segment presents a surrealistic battle for a solitary bumble bee as he tries to ward off a visual and musical frenzy. The music is courtesy of Freddy Martin And His Orchestra (with Jack Fina playing the piano) and is a swing-jazz variation of Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee, which was one of the many pieces considered for inclusion in Fantasia.

The Legend of Johnny Appleseed
This segment is a retelling of the story of John Chapman, who spent most of his life roaming Mid-Western America (mainly Illinois and Indiana) in the pioneer days, and planting apple trees, thus earning his famous nickname. 

Little Toot
This segment is based on the story of the same name by Hardie Gramatky, in which the title protagonist, a small tugboat, wanted to be just like his father Big Toot, but couldn't seem to stay out of trouble. The Andrews Sisters provide the vocals.

This segment featured the a recitation of the 1913 poem "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer poem performed by Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians with the lyrical setting accompanying animation scenes seen through the changing of the seasons.

Blame It on the Samba
This segment has Donald Duck and José Carioca meeting the Aracuan Bird, who introduces them to the pleasures of the samba. Donald Duck, Jose Carioca, and the Aracuan bird reprise their roles from The Three Caballeros. The animated short includes some live-action footage.

Pecos Bill
The film's final segment is about Texas' famous hero Pecos Bill. It also features his horse Widowmaker, and recounts how Pecos was brought back down to earth by a woman named Slue-Foot Sue. This retelling of the story features Roy Rogers, Bob Nolan, and the Sons of the Pioneers to Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten. This segment was later edited on the film's NTSC video release (but not the PAL release) to remove all scenes of Bill smoking. The entire scene on the tornado with Bill rolling his cigarette and lighting it with a lightning bolt was cut, and all other shots of the offending cigarette hanging from his lips were digitally removed.

source: Wikipedia

Katie's thoughts

I enjoy Once Upon a Wintertime and I really love Johnny Appleseed. Those are really the only two segments worth watching for me in this collection. Little Toot is probably good if you like the Andrews Sisters, but I'm not really a fan. I have to admit that I was so happy to get finish this film so we could move into the beloved classics again. I'm giving Melody Time 3 out of 10 Mickeys.

Second opinion with Alex

Melody Time. Sometimes nostalgia makes a film seem better. The fact is that between the shorts, there's a very mixed feeling, and I mean more than in Make Mine Music. We jump from Fantasia reject, to pioneer folktale, to dreary naturalist hymn, and more. It's telling that the Caballeros segment is one of the saving graces of the film. 4 out of 10 mickey ears. Worth watching, but in parts. (Skip Little Toot, and also Trees. The rest is good.) 

Riley's viewpoint

Once Upon a Wintertime and The Legend of Johnny Appleseed are two of my favorites that remind me of my childhood. These two shorts are classics for sure. Blame it on the Samba gave me flashbacks of the Cabelleros and I worried we were heading down that road again. While it wasn't as bad as that, it just wasn't all that good either. Little Toot was ok, but not a favorite. I give this collection a 3 of 10 Mickey heads for my ranking.


It's been a tough road to watch these hodge-podge package films, but we also appreciate the history behind them and are grateful that they allowed the studio to survive a difficult time!


Fun and Fancy Free - Disney Films Project

Fun and Fancy Free is the 5th package presentation we've watched for our Disney Films Project

This film features two segments: Bongo and Mickey and the Beanstalk. Jiminy Cricket appears at the beginning singing a short song of"I'm a Happy-go-Lucky Fellow", a song written for and cut from Pinocchio before its release. Jiminy then finds a playroom with a doll, a teddy bear, and a record player with some records, and sets up to play the story of Bongo on the record.

Mickey and the Beanstalk was narrated by Edgar Bergen in live-action sequences, who, with the help of his ventriloquist dummies Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, told the tale to child actress Luana Patten at her birthday party.


A few interesting tidbits about Fun and Fancy Free:

  • The "Mickey and the Beanstalk" portion of the film was the last time Walt Disney voiced Mickey Mouse, because he was too busy on other projects to continue voicing the famous character.
  • During the 1940s, Mickey and the Beanstalk and Bongo were originally going to be developed as two separate feature films.
  • It is the the only film featuring all four of Walt Disney's most famous characters -- Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Jiminy Cricket

Sources: Wikipedia and


Katie's thoughts

It's clear that this film is an excuse to paste together a few odd projects and create a feature. As I explained in my last post, it's what kept the Disney animation studio alive during a difficult time after World War II. I felt like the animation on the Bongo segment was quite primitive compared to the other work produced by the studio in the same time period. It certainly seemed quite a bit behind the artwork in Mickey and the Beanstalk. I didn't really care for the Bongo story, but I have always liked the Mickey Mouse version of the beanstalk tale. The interlude with Edgar Bergen and his puppets was strange and a little creepy. He did do a nice job of narrating the story though. Overall, I give this collection 3 out of 10 Mickey heads. 


Second opinion with Alex

Fun and Fancy Free features a cut song from Pinocchio, and performance footage of Edgar Bergen. Sadly, this is the only benefit to the film. The rest runs too short, and the featured stories can easily be found elsewhere. When Mickey and Friends can't manage to save a movie, it's a bad sign. Tellingly, this is one of the last package films made. I give this film 2 out of 10 Mickey ears. That's right, this is close to the bottom of the barrel! I did enjoy the segment with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy though.


Riley's viewpoint

These two clips have nothing to do with each other, and you can tell that they were cut from different films. Bongo is a very interesting story and seems to say that everyone has a different view of love. If it is true that people express their love with a slap, than count me out of love. I liked the retelling of Jack and the bean stalk but can someone tell me why a little girl an old man and two puppets are the only ones at her birthday party? Does that seem weird to anyone else? I am giving this film 3 mickey heads.

Disney seems to have brushed Bongo aside (wisely) but they have kept Mickey and the Beanstalk around through the years and re-released it with a few different collections. The Golden Harp from the movie even makes a cameo appearance in Who Framed Roger Rabbit!


Make Mine Music - Disney Films Project

We just watched another feature in our Disney Films Project and we are smack-dab in the middle of a bunch of compilation films. These are a little more difficult to review because they are several shorts that are all put together for a full length presentation. Make Mine Music is all over the map with a pieces ranging from Casey at Bat to Peter and the Wolf. 

If you are wondering why all of these compilation projects exist, the Wikipedia entry for Make Mine Music does a great job of explaining the reason.

During the Second World War, much of Walt Disney's staff was drafted into the army, and those that remained were called upon by the U.S. government to make training and propaganda films. As a result, the studio was littered with unfinished story ideas. In order to keep the feature film division alive during this difficult time, the studio released six package films including this one, made up of various unrelated segments set to music.

This film has ten segments:

The Martins and the Coys (edited out in most versions so we didn't see this)
This segment featured popular radio vocal group, King's Men singing the story of a Hatfields and McCoys-style feud in the mountains broken up when two young people from each side fell in love. 

Blue Bayou
This segment featured animation originally intended for Fantasia using the Claude Debussy musical composition Clair de Lune from Suite bergamasque. It featured two egrets flying through the Everglades on a moonlit night. However, by the time Make Mine Music was released Clair de Lune was replaced by the new song Blue Bayou, performed by the Ken Darby Singers. 

All the Cats Join In
This segment was one of two sections in which Benny Goodman and his Orchestra contributed the soundtrack to visuals drawn by a pencil as the action was happening, and in which 1940s teens were swept away by popular music.

Without You
This segment was a ballad of lost love, sung by Andy Russell.

Casey at the Bat
This segment featured Jerry Colonna, reciting the poem also titled "Casey at the Bat" by Ernest Thayer, about the arrogant ballplayer whose cockiness was his undoing.

Two Silhouettes
This segment featured two live-action ballet dancers, David Lichine and Tania Riabouchinskaya, moving in silhouette with animated backgrounds and characters. Dinah Shore sang the title song.

Peter and the Wolf
This segment was an animated dramatization of the 1936 musical composition by Sergei Prokofiev, with narration by actor Sterling Holloway. A Russian boy named Peter sets off into the forest to hunt the wolf with his animal friends: a bird named Sasha, a duck named Sonia, and a cat named Ivan. Each character is represented with a specific musical accompaniment: Peter by the String Quartet, Sasha the Bird by the Flute, Sonia the Duck Oboe, Ivan the Cat by the Clarinet, Grandpa by the Bassoon, Gunfire from hunters' by the Kettledrums, and the evil Wolf primarily by horns and cymbals.

After You've Gone
This segment again featured Benny Goodman and The Goodman Octet as eight anthropomorphized instruments (Piano, Bass, Drums, Clarinet, Trumpet, Trombone, Alto Sax, Tenor Sax) who paraded through a musical playground.

Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet
This segment told the romantic story of two hats who fell in love in a department store window. When Alice was sold, Johnnie devoted himself to finding her again. They eventually, by pure chance, meet up again and live happily ever after together, side by side. The Andrews Sisters provided the vocals. 

The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met
The bittersweet finale about a Sperm Whale with incredible musical talent and his dreams of singing Grand Opera. In the end, Willie was harpooned and killed, but the narrator then explains that Willy's voice will sing on in Heaven. Nelson Eddy narrated and performed all the voices in this segment. As Willie the Whale, Eddy sang all three male voices in the first part of the Sextet from Donizetti's opera, Lucia di Lammermoor.

Katie's thoughts

Once I understood why these compilation movies were put together, it did help me become more forgiving of the hodge-podge feeling of a bunch of random pieces being packaged as one feature. I found that the majority of the pieces felt a little slow (and boring) to me and that they would clearly be more appreciated in the time that they were written (the 1940s).  I though Casey at the Bat was a clever short and I've always loved Peter and the Wolf. I think I must have had a record of that as a child because I remember listening to the music and the story narrated by Sterling Holloway. Alex refused to watch the last piece of the whale singing at the Met because he remembered it as being very depressing. After I watched it, I had to agree. Too sad!

If I was rating only Peter and the Wolf, I would give this very high marks. However, as a whole, Make Mine Music gets 4 out of 10 Mickey Ears from me.

Second opinion with Alex

Make Mine Music is advertised as a "Happy Comedy Musical" Aside from the end segment, which is murder on the heartstrings, this is an apt analogy. Still, some segments are more introspective, making things out of alignment This is the most upbeat of the package films so far. 4/10 Mickey Ears (This reviewer will not be covering the whale segment, which will be covered by his fellow reviewers.)

Riley's viewpoint

I will give this show 4 stars for 4 reasons. Reason number one is the story of Casey at the Bat. This is a classic story that is a childhood favorite of mine. Story is a great lesson on humility, something that Casey lacks. Star number two is earned for me in Peter and the Wolf, what a great introduction to music for kids. I love this segment. The last two stars were earned in Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet. This cartoon is awesome and gosh dang it, it made me almost cry! I love this love story!! Great three segments, and the rest I will ignore.

Interestingly, this is the first movie that all three of us have rated the same!

The Make Mine Music seem to be largely forgotten in the current Disney culture, but there are a few appearances in some Disney Parks:

  • Peter and the Wolf is featured as part of the Disneyland Paris version of the Storybook Land Canal Boats
  • Casey at the Bat is represented in the parks with Casey's Corner on Main Street, U.S.A. in various parks and one of the Boardwalk games at Disney California Adventure
  • Willie the Whale appears in a queue poster at Mickey's PhilharMagic.

If you enjoy the music from Peter and the Wolf, you will love watching this rare video of PROKOFIEV & WALT DISNEY.