Movie 8: Make Mine Music

make_mine_music_posterSo after the grant was finished with Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros Walt Disney was left with a problem.  The army took many of his artists into it’s service and much of the rest of his staff was busy making training videos and propaganda films for the US Government.

If Walt wanted his feature film division to stay in tact and be functional after the war he would have to do something to keep releasing films.  That is why we get the next 4 short subject or package films.  Anyone can tell these are scrapped projects picked up again, clumsily clobbered together to get as close to an hour of material as they could because that is literally what they are.

In some cases that produced hidden gems.  In others boring segments that should have been kept in the scrap pile, but in many more cases it creates things truly bizarre, which never would have been produced in any other circumstances.  I kind of like bizarre so 2 out of 3 of those outcomes works great for me!

So we get Make Mine Music.  This is sold as a Fantasia with popular music of the 40’s. Released in 1946 some of the music feels dated which is something that will happen with popular music of any era but not as much with classical.  A great symphony in 2014 will probably sound a lot like a great symphony in 1946.

Make Mine Music has 10 sets and like I said- some work, some don’t and some are just strange.  Let’s dive in.

1.  Martins and the Coys-

This was actually not part of my DVD.  It was removed because people felt it was too violent and I can see why.  It is a take on the Hatfield and McCoy feud (which do children even know about that? I didn’t until the miniseries last year…) and has a bluesgrass soundtrack accompanying it.

martins2Basically you have 2 families who hate each other because one stole some chicken eggs.  So they fight. martins-coys-1946And everyone dies…(Great message for kids!)  but one from each family, Alice and Henry.  They actually show the ghosts around the mountain.

martins1

So of course, Henry and Alice meet and fall in love so everything is right again, right?  No!  It turns out Alice is a real brute and beats Henry every night.  The End…

Poor Henry beat out of the house...

Ok. I can see why they took that off the DVD.  I can’t say it isn’t entertaining.

To watch it go to http://dai.ly/xrfryd

2. Blue Bayou-

This one is interesting because it was filmed originally with Clair de Lune for Fantasia but here it is with the Ken Darby Chorus and has a bayou poem that I couldn’t understand without the closed captions.  Compare these I think you will agree the Clair de Lune is much better.

This one is good especially in original version

3. All the Cats Join In-

This is another strange one.  It has Benny Goodman and his orchestra and is supposed to portray youth in the 40s.  Everything looks like Archie and Veronica from the comics which was popular then so it very well could have been the influence.

all cats2As the music goes the pencil draws the teens.

cats4There’s a surprising mixture of kids like you see a black couple dancing.

cats3But then there is also a segment with a girl coming out of the shower and getting dressed which is strange for a Disney film in the 40s…

cats2

I would say this one is mildly entertaining to strange.  I love big band and jazz music but for some reason most of the arrangements in this film just seem kind of boring.

all cats4. Without You-

There must have been an artist at the studio that loved Dali because every once in a while you see his influence creep in but not enough to figure it was a huge influence on the studio.  The elephants in Dumbo, surrealist touches in Fantasia and all the clips moments have something but this is literally bright pink trees and then the scene melts away.  To me that just screams Dali but not in an interesting compelling way.

 without youdali

I like Dali fine but this episode is kind of forgettable.

5.  Casey at Bat-

This is another strange choice.  First of all, the music is minimal but I remember it completely differently than it is .  I thought Casey was a sympathetic guy.  Turns out he is actually a pompous jerk.  You are glad when he strikes out but the artists act like we should feel sad and that the whole town is sad.  It’s a very strange message.

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6. Two Silhouettes-

This is a simple short that has real live action ballet dancers as silhouettes with images and music. It’s not terrible but kind of blah.  I think in an age when we didn’t have a million opportunities to watch dancing everyday on TV this must have felt more special.

silhouettes

7. Peter and the Wolf-

Probably the most memorable episode from this movie.  As written by Sergei Prokofiev each animal in the story has a different instrument so the symphony gets to literally tell a story as it plays.

It is an enjoyable set.  The only odd thing is the wolf seems to be out of another movie.  It is so ferocious and mean and all the other characters like Sonia the Duck and Peter are all so cutesy and sweet.

I mean seriously look at these cute characters:

peter and the wolf2And then look at this wolf

peter and the wolf peter-and-sonya-25tiswf

I mean give us a fair fight Disney!  But that said it is a good number.

8. After You’ve Gone-

The Goodman Quartet plays while musical instruments dance across the screen. At one point they are boxing each other which is a strange choice.  I think Mr Dali fan is putting his influence in once again!

boxing

 So here’s my little spiel about art.  Art should mean something or tell some kind of a story, even if it tells different stories to different people.  Or it should be beautiful or upsetting or stir some other kind of emotion.  When it is just randomly putting things together it leaves the viewer confused and unless that is a reaction you want than it should be avoided.

There is no reason to have a clarinet and a bass boxing and it doesn’t make any sense or have any kind of obvious deeper meaning to ponder.  When Dali melted clocks there is clear things to ponder about time and life and the infinite.  So, that’s what I think about art…

9.  Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet-

This is another strange set.  Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet are hats (yes hats) with eyes and a mouth that I guess isn’t visible to humans despite them kissing and starting fights.  They are  separated from each other and Johnnie is devastated and the piece is about him finding Alice and in the end they are both worn by horses which is strange.

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The whole thing is strange.  I can feel for ducks, mice, parrots but hats… The Andrews Sisters sing the story which is kind of fun and nostalgic to hear.

10. The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met-

This is probably my favorite because it is strange but in a ‘I can’t believe that exists’ way.  It is about a whale that sings opera.  He is heard by fisherman and then eventually trapped and sings at the Met with at one point fire coming out of his mouth.

Just having a whale talk in the middle of his body standing up looks so strange.  I laugh whenever I see it.

Is that not one of the oddest images you've seen?
Is that not one of the oddest images you’ve seen?

Why have it in the middle of his body like that?  Whales have mouths at the top of their body.  It looks like a big shoe singing.

willie the whalewillie2And then he dies for no real reason but to teach kids a lesson about whale heaven “Willie’s singing was a miracle and people aren’t used to miracles.  And you faithful friend don’t be too sad because somewhere in whatever heaven is reserved for creatures of the deep Willie is still singing”

wilie the whale singinI find that such a baffling choice.  Why kill him?  Why not leave him singing his heart out to all the fans.  Why end your cartoon with a message about how humanity isn’t used to miracles and silences them but in heaven everything is made better….’.  I mean I guess they were in a time of war but wouldn’t it be better to teach kids about miracles and that humanity has it’s good sides?

The whole episode is just so bizarre I kind of love it.

Conclusion and Movie Review

So, that was a lot of work!  I hope you found it entertaining and go check out Make Mine Music.  It is one of the oddest sets of entertainment I’ve ever viewed.  I really don’t know what to say.  Some of the pieces are forgettable, some are good and most of them are strange or have strange moments.  So on that level I recommend it but if you are looking for normal, easy to absorb family entertainment this is definitely not the one to pick.

A grade is almost impossible but I guess a C- (just on strangeness but if I’m really talking quality it would be lower)

20 thoughts on “Movie 8: Make Mine Music

  1. I always wondered what the heck the Blue Bayou had to do with anything Disney. When I was a kid we lived in southern California for a couple years and had annual passes to Disneyland, so we became really well acquainted with the place. I always find it interesting to learn what inspired some of the older attractions.

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    1. It is interesting and to see what movies are totally ignored by the parks despite being very popular. Like Robin Hood is loved by fans but hated by Disney.

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    2. I hear they are updating Fantasyland for the 60th anniversary next year. Hope they don’t spoil it but Alice in Wonderland ride looked like a cool update.

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      1. Cool! Fantasyland is kind of weird. I dont think ive ever actually gone on the Alice in Wonderland ride. We always loved Mr. Toad’s wild ride. For some reason as teenagers we thought the fact that it takes you through hell was hilarious.

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    1. Cool. Hats was a little much for me to bond with but it’s cute. How about the singing whale? That was so strange looking. And seriously why kill him? That was the oddest lesson for a Disney film. ‘Kids people don’t like miracles and so they kill them…’ I was thoroughly entertained because it was so odd.

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      1. I really dont mind a character dieing just when kids are told people dont like miracles and kill them. That is very odd to me.

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  2. Oh, this is a special film.

    I know it’s just me talking but I find SOOO much that I love about this package. The ten segments of varying length featured here range from interesting to utterly transcendent. It would be near impossible to describe this film, but here are my thoughts on the segments in the order I like them, from least to most.

    10. Two Silhouettes- This is an interesting experiment. I think the rotoscopic ballet doesn’t necessarily work, but the music is nice, and there are some cool animation ideas. Overall, I think it a bit much.
    9. The Martins and the Coys- This hillbilly feud to music, nicely sung by the Kingsmen and cut from the U.S. edition of the DVD, is a brisk, straightforward, but fairly generic cartoon. I think it goes on too long (we’re looking at YOU, square-dance scene), and rather meanspirited. However, some good physical comedy makes for a watchable, if forgettable, sequence.
    8. Without You- This brief surrealist segment is, in my opinion, very nice indeed. The artwork is often stunning, and Andy Russell’s rendition of the title ballad is legitimately tear-jerking. I think it’s winning, only issue being that it’s too short to enjoy to the fullest.
    7. Casey at the Bat- This version of the classic American poem is often pleasant, with hilarious narration by Jerry Colonna, and some truly brilliant direction (there are some sight gags which can only be seen to be appreciated). The personality animation on Casey and the others is great, and there are woderful, satiric embellishments throughout. Typical forties sexism and the fact that it is, overall, pretty standard keep it from being top five material.
    6. Blue Bayou- This sequence would be placed higher, if it were originally what it was intended to be. It’s very soothing, and the animation is glorious, but it worked better when paired with ‘Claire de Lune’ as intended for ‘Fantasia.’ It is lovely, though.
    5. After You’ve Gone- Wonderful surreal animation. Like ‘Without You’, very brief, but best is made of time here. The sights, the sounds- THANK YOU, BENNY GOODMAN!!
    4. Peter and the wolf- An absolute delight. Sterling Holloway is just perfect as the narrator of the piece, the character design is charming, and that wolf looks EVIL! This is a first-rate tribute to a great piece of music.
    3. Johnny Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet- Hats falling in love. Great animation. The Andrews sisters. Glorious.
    2. All the Cats Join In- Utterly awesome. The pencil sketch animation is unique from anything else done at Disney. The Benny Goodman Music is the charm, and there is nothing about this segment that is unpleasant or overbearing. It is a joy to watch throughout.
    1. The Whale Who Wanted to Sing At the Met- If there is any 1 reason to watch ‘Make Mine Music’, this is it. Of course, there are many other segments that are worth your time. But this is TRANSCENDENT!! One of the great Disney cartoons, this bittersweet masterpiece of a finale is, truly, something else. Willie the Whale’s (ultimately tragic) stand in hopes of rising as an opera star are iced with marvelous visions of the cetacean performing various operatic arias. Nelson Eddy is incredible as ALL OF THE VOICES!!! And the finale is perhaps the saddest thing the Disney Studios ever produced. This is just AMAZING stuff.

    Overall, I adore this film. Even the weaker segments at least play host to inventive concepts. This film deserves far more attention than it gets!

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    1. Yay! I’m so glad this movie has an ardent fan. I’ve watched it several times since this review and like it more each time. It’s so different and weird. I love it too!

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