MAKE MINE MUSIC

(1946)
Directed by Bob Cormack, Clyde Geronomi, Jack Knney, Hamilton Luske, Josh (Joshua) Meador
Featuring the musical and/or vocal talents of Nelson Eddie, Sterling Holloway, Dinah Shore, Benny Goodman, Jerry Colonna, The Andrews Sisters

MELODY TIME

(1948)
Directed by Clyde Geronomi, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske
Featuring the musical and/or vocal talents of Roy Rogers, Dennis Day, The Andrews Sisters, Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians, Freddie Martin, Ethel Smith, Frances Langford, Buddy Clark, Bob Nolan, The Dinning Sisters, The Sons of the Pioneers

Listen to that whale wail!      To keep his animators working and his product in the theaters during the 1940s, Walt Disney put together several package films featuring shorter animated segments linked together by theme or narrative.  1946's MAKE MINE MUSIC was a kind of lower-brow FANTASIA featuring not just classical music (Peter and the Wolf) but jazz (represented twice by Benny Goodman) and pop music (Dinah Shore, The Andrews Sisters, Andy Russell, etc.).  On the whole, it is the less serious segments that are most impressive and the consciously classy segments that bring about boredom.  Highlights include animated instruments chasing each other around a musical fantasy world to the tune of "After You've Gone" played by The Benny Goodman Quartet, a slapstick rendition of the poem "Casey at the Bat", heavily rewritten and sung/narrated by comic Jerry Colonna, and a sweet and funny adaptation of Prokiev's "Peter and the Wolf", a segment unnecessarily narrated by the ubiquitous-in-Disney-features Sterling Holloway. The highlight of the film is its climax, the original story of "The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met", a tour de force not only for the Disney animators, whose Willy the Opera-Singing Whale is one of their most memorable creations of a lean decade, but also for singer and actor Nelson Eddie, who provides all the singing and speaking voices for the segment.  In an ignorant and dumbfounding decision, the opening segment, a comic version of the Hatfield and McCoys hillbilly feud, was edited out of the film at some point because some cretin somewhere in the Disney organization thought it was too violent for our sensitive times. 3 - JB

    1948's MELODY TIME was more of the same, except without the consciously artistic and therefore dull classical sections of MAKE MINE MUSIC.  Instead we are treated to some great singers, musicians and bands providing the soundtrack for typical Disney fare: American, religiosity, surrealism, idealized versions of love, and plenty of kitsch all around.  Back in 1948, it might not have been what audiences wanted from Disney (turns out what they were waiting for was another SNOW WHITE, which they would get with 1950's CINDERELLA) but today, MELODY TIME is an entertaining reminder of a time when beautiful hand-drawn animation married to catchy melodies and popular songs were simply the norm.  Audiences were so spoiled with great animation by the 1940s, and not just from Disney, that even as they dutifully viewed Disney, Warner, Fleischer and MGM cartoons weekly at the theaters, they did not know what they were missing.  Today, we know what we are missing - people who could make cartoons as artistic, visual, stylish, imaginative and fun as MAKE MINE MUSIC and MELODY TIME on a regular basis.  4 - JB

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