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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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!