One of them Disney guys.
Pinocchio (1940) -- Co-directed with Walt Disney, Norman Ferguson, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Bill Roberts, and Ben Sharpsteen. Even better than Snow White: better songs ("When You Wish Upon a Star" to name only one), better characters, better story, everything.
Dumbo (1941) -- Co-directed with Samuel Armstrong, Norman Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson, Bill Roberts, and Ben Sharpsteen. After Fantasia, this seems like a return to some of the cute and funny stuff that made Disney so popular to begin with in his short subjects. But it's certainly great, and it's got some interesting narrative choices: like the fact that Dumbo doesn't even fly (what some might remember as most of the movie) until the movie is almost over. Sweet, cute, and touching.
Saludos Amigos (1943) -- Co-directed with Norman Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, and Bill Roberts. And then came the war... As part of the "Good Neighbor Policy" with Latin America, Disney produced this travelogue which begins the "package films" Disney would put out for the next several years (a collection of shorts rather than a traditional feature-length). This is more of a documentary than a movie, sort of a making of itself, the shorts within, and potential shorts without, and it's actually only 45 minutes long. The shorts are cute if slight (after Bambi, cartoons about anthropomorphic airplanes don't cut it) and only hint at what they'll eventually produce with the following "real" movie and companion, The Three Caballeros. Treat it as a warm up to that one.
The Three Caballeros (1945) -- Co-directed with Walt Disney, Norman Ferguson, Clyde Geronimi, Bill Roberts, and Harold Young. Coming through with the goods of what was promised in Saludos Amigos, this one is much better. After a mediocre short or two, the "story" takes off with Donald Duck going on a sort of tail-chasing drug trip through Latin America. It's a musical and visual movie, not a narrative one, so fortunately the visuals and music are good.
Make Mine Music (1946) -- Co-directed with Robert Cormack, Clyde Geronimi, Joe Grant, Hamilton Luske, and Joshua Meador. Fantasia with pop music, and little of the magic. It's hard for me to judge this as being "over-commercial" these days, since -- you know -- people like Dinah Shore and Benny Goodman seem like classical music to my late twentieth/early twenty-first century self. Most of the music holds up as good enough, anyway: some better than others. Since this is a package film, I'll go through each of the segments. (I ask myself why I don't -- and why others don't -- consider Fantasia a package film, and the answer is because it's not. It's a cohesive thing, even if it's divided into separate pieces.) First of all, I haven't seen the original opener "A Rustic Ballad," because the geniuses at modern Disney decided it wasn't suitable for kids, so they didn't release it on the DVD (something about gunplay, stereotypes, and "phallic imagery"). So, if I haven't said it somewhere else already, "F*ck you, Disney company, for revising your own history. You should be fucking ashamed of yourselves." "A Tone Poem"/"Blue Bayou" is fine, but forgettable. "A Jazz Interlude"/"All the Cats Join In" is a standout, and the jitterbug sequence no doubt influenced David Lynch's Mulholland Drive (it's almost a direct copy). "A Musical Recitation"/"Casey at the Bat" is good as far as Disney shorts go. "Ballet Ballad"/"Two Silhouettes" is interesting enough as being a different style of animation (rotoscoping dancers as shadows). "A Fairy Tale With Music"/"Peter and the Wolf" is definitely one of the standouts, with Prokofiev's wonderful music and great characters (though, like almost all the releases of "Peter and the Wolf," it would stand up better if the music told the story--not that I don't adore Sterling "Winnie the Pooh" Holloway's voice). "After You've Gone" is another decent Fantasia-type abstract revisiting. "A Love Story"/"Johnny Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet" is a typical cutesy Disney short (which I only have mild patience for) with a song that's pretty annoying. And finally, the rightful closer, "Opera Pathetique"/"The Whale Who Wanted To Sing at the Met," which is pretty hilarious in its bigness and absurdity, and which features a brilliant delivery of all the voices by Nelson Eddy. To conclude, each of these is fine as a short, but together they only add up to a pretty decent collection. Actually, though, I wish that Disney (or somebody) would do something like this today. For one thing, it would perfectly fit our short attention spans.
Fun and Fancy Free (1947) -- Co-directed with Hamilton Luske, William Morgan, and Bill Roberts. Again, a package deal, the "Bongo" section unbearably boring and cutesy. The second section, "Mickey and the Beanstalk," is fantastic however, with the three big stars Mickey, Donald, and Goofy teaming up in a feature with some of the best music ever written for Disney. The stories are connected by Jiminy Cricket and Edgar Bergen and his ventriloquist dummies.
Melody Time (1948) -- Co-directed with Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske. An improved version of Make Mine Music, Melody Time is another music-based shorts collection, but this time a real story narrative is more important to the pieces (which, though narrative is not necessarily better than abstraction in these Fantasia-type segments, helps to make the movie work better). "Once Upon a Wintertime" is a typical cutesy-poo love story, but decent. "Bumble Boogie" is a perfect example of how the failure of Fantasia made Disney want to "pop up" the idea, still decent. "The Legend of Johnny Appleseed" is a pretty good little short with some decent music. "Little Toot" isn't bad either. "Trees" is a nice oddball addition. "Blame It On the Samba" (looking like a leftover from The Three Caballeros) perhaps missteps by showing live action, since Disney's live action always looks dated, while the animation looks timeless, but the segment is nice enough, and Donald Duck is always welcome. "Blue Shadows on the Trail" features everyone's favorite cowboy and some 50s kids (again, in live action, though mixed with some animation) which essentially serves as a setup for "Pecos Bill and Sue," which is a pretty hilarious and inspired telling of the Pecos Bill story--like Make Mine Music, saving the best segment for last. After it's all said and done, Melody Time proves to be a nice time indeed.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) -- Co-directed with James Algar and Clyde Geronimi. Similar to Fun and Fancy Free by having two stories, only both the stories are excellent in this one. The movies are fun retellings of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and The Wind in the Willows.
Copyright (c) Jul 2003 - Nov 2006 by Rusty Likes Movies