Saturday, January 23, 2010

#10: Melody Time (1948)

'Melody Time' is done in the style of 'Make Mine Music,' featuring the Disney animators working to the stylings of famous musicians of the time, as well as some radio performers too. There's a bit more variety than last time, with a mix of light melodies, folk tales, samba rhythms, and jazz madness.

At this point I feel like I'm struggling to figure out what to write about these package films, which is understandable since it is very reminiscent of the previous ones, and it's all basic standard Disney fare. This and 'Make Mine Music' don't have the artistic mastery and ambition of 'Fantasia,' they're low-rent follow-ups, though for understandable reasons. I just find a lot of these shorts to be forgettable padding. The opening 'Once Upon a Wintertime' of two young lovers cavorting on the ice is sweet, but nothing new or interesting. I did enjoy the 'Bumble Boogie,' but it seemed a tad short. Another short 'Little Toot,' of a rambunctious little tug boat who learns responsibility, is also rather tepid, despite the sight of his antics causing a giant ocean liner to smash through a whole city. What a little bastard.

Hmm... this is sounding a bit more negative than I intended. These films are enjoyable, just not quite as compelling as the masterpieces that cane before it. However, a few of the segments were fun: the tale of Johnny Appleseed, the God-fearing apple-tree-plantin' pioneer, is told in classic Disney form, and is a pretty nice piece. Donald and Jose Carioca return in 'Blame it on the Samba,' as they dance it up with another live-action beauty playing the organ, in a trippy (though not as trippy as their last escapade) sequence taking place inside a wine glass (...yeah).

The finale is by far the winner, though not quite at opera whale levels. Live-action Roy Rogers tells the animated story of Pecos Bill, the rootin'est tootin'est cowboy ever to roam the wild west. There's a lot of great and loose animation on Pecos and his horse, as they proceed to show up each and every critter they can find. By the time Pecos is lassoing a tornado, and using a LIGHTNING BOLT to LIGHT HIS CIGARETTE, you start to wonder where your mind's gone. It's a crazy piece, alright.

Verdict? Not sure if it's as strong as 'Make Mine Music;' both are pretty much at the same level. These package films are kind of hit-or-miss, and at this point the ratio of those is about at dead center. We're almost out of the woods though, as there's only one package film left to go...

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