After 4 bumpy rides on the package film track I am delighted to tell you my friends that the last 2, which I watched today, are delightful.
Melody Time is the last of the package films with more than 2 stories and it might as well have been called Make Mine Music 2 but it is not as odd as it’s predecessor and the quality of animation and writing is significantly better. This does not feel like the scrap heap projects that MMM did.
Melody Time was released in 1948. Like MMM it is stories put to modern music like Fantasia had been classical music.
The war was over by that point and Disney was hard at work on their triumphant return to fairy tale stories in 1950 with Cinderella. In the meantime we get Melody Time and Ichabod and Mr Toad.
The project is introduced and narrated by Buddy Clark who sounds a lot like Bing Crosby. The entry is a little bit strange with masks
Once Upon a Wintertime-
Christmas song with images that look like a Currier and Ives printWe learn it is about young love. Then we see a couple in a sleigh and then on the ice. A rabbit is skating much like in Bambi. But unfortunately the ice becomes cracked and quickly the fair maiden is taken down stream towards a waterfall (don’t ask how a rushing river can be completely frozen over that close to a waterfall…)
A very strong segment about a bee confronting the music of the Flight of the Bumble Bee. You see a Dali influence in this one for sure.
Legend of Johnny Appleseed
If you aren’t Christian I don’t know if you’d enjoy this as much as some of the rest of us that are. The music is a nice spiritual song called The Lord is Good to Me.
In a world where Christianity is basically abhorred by the media and kept out of anything mainstream it is nice to hear a little shout out on a Disney film.
The artistry in Johnny Appleseed reminds me a lot of Grandma Moses folk art. With the clouds merging with the apple trees it is beautiful.
Johnny is inspired to spread happiness around the world in the form of apple trees where ever he goes.
I also thought it was funny whenever they talk about an apple feast they say ‘apple pickles’ first. I had never heard of pickling apples but I guess it’s a real thing. Who knew? http://www.chefsteps.com/activities/pickled-apple-slices
It does drag in a few sections but overall I enjoyed it. The kind of short you could play in Sunday School. Nothing wrong with that!
This is very similar to the Pedro story from Saludos Amigos. Basically the little tug boat is treated poorly. Then his size saves the day- another Rudolph story.
It’s sweet and clips along so I didn’t mind it.
The Arrangement of Trees
Our Dali friend is out again. The story of a tree told with a surrealist touch. Actually it’s not even a story. It’s just a piece about the majesty of a tree and an oddly shaped one at that.
Kind of a surrealist tree.
The only thing I didn’t like in this piece is that all of the sudden the tree is the cross which seemed to come out of nowhere.
That caught me off guard because nothing in the piece really spoke to religion and there it was.
Blame it on Samba
This feels like an extra from The Three Cabelleros. We get our troupe back including Jose, Donald and Panchito. We also get a latin singer similar to Aurora Miranda but I don’t think it is her.
They dance, they sing and it is all very tame but enjoyable. Nice to see Jose for the last time.
A very sweet story. Pecos has been raised by coyotes in the wild. Eventually he cleans up and falls in love.
Unfortunately for Bill his love wants to wear a bustle at their wedding and it becomes a bustle trampoline (you will have to trust me on that).
In the end we find out why coyotes are crying to the moon. There’s no happy ending which for Disney is a big step. I enjoyed it.
Pecos sings one song about the west and how the colors of the Native Americans made the rocks red, orange, gold and even purple. Some could find that a little bit racist but it isn’t so bad.
I really liked Melody Time. It is much better than Make Mine Music which was entertaining in a so bad it’s good way but Melody Time I genuinely like.
It is appropriate for all ages. Each set is around 8 minutes and it is narrated by Roy Rogers and his wranglers (we meet them in a live action scene). The music is uniformly good and the colors and artistry looks like real effort went into them not an afterthought. There is also a pretty good variety; although I think the Pecos Bill story goes on a little bit too long. Still, it’s sweet and well done so I enjoyed it.
Overall Grade B+