D50: Melody Time

The thing that makes both Disney music anthologies apart from the others released by the studio is that there seems to be a purpose for them and that it is truly something that the animators wanted to do. They had more in common with Fantasia and didn’t come across as something that was made to keep things going while WWII went on in Europe. I loved Make Mine Music, despite some flaws, like the Peter and the Wolf segment. I was expecting more of of the same with Melody Time, but actually, it is much better, and in fact, it is in the top 3 of the first 10 Disney features.

The segments in Melody Time truly focus on telling a story through music or giving the music a unique interpretation. The firs short, “Once Upon a Wintertime” evokes that feeling you get when you go out on a day and the ground is covered with undisturbed snow through a song about lover going out to enjoy the winter weather. It has a creative design and it is extremely enjoyable. It is a relly great start that set the bar high for the rest.

The second is a creative arrangement and bizarre visual interpretation of “Flight of the Bumblebee”. Here, instruments that came to life chase around a bumblebee. This segment is one of my favorites. It combines one of the most memorable pieces of music ever with some psychedelic visuals to create an extremely enjoyable and rewarding short.

The third tells the story of how legendary pioneer Johnny Appleseed came to be a pioneer. It is a nice story that teaches us that we can be anything we want to be as long as we set out to do it. It is set to some nice country-ish music and some of the songs have some rather awesome lyrics. The designs here are amazing. It would have been a perfect short had they ended it with him dying and going to heaven, but they had to throw in some joke about him wanting to keep planting trees on earth. Still, that didn’t ruin it. It’s still excellent

The next one is the worst one of the bunch. It is called “Little Toot” and it is about a young tugboat that just won’t mature. It’s a nice short with a nice tune, but once you see the rest of the movie you realize that it is extremely out of place.

“Blame it on the Samba” brings back Donald Duck and the coolest cigar-smoking parrot ever, Jose Carioca, but here they are feeling blue. But a bit of Samba makes everything better. This short may just have the best music of them all. And once again, we are treated to some psychedelic visuals that makes it all look like the best head trip you could ever have.

The last short is a rustic ballad that tells the story of Pecos Bill and his adventures from being raised by coyotes and how he lived wit his trusty horse, Widowmaker, to when the love bug bites him and falls for Slue Foot Sue. This a great short in just about every department. It has great animation, a great song with a great story, and it is extremely enjoyable. The end is a bit of a downer, but that’s okay. It’s not the best short, but like I said, it is pretty great.

Melody Time is truly the better of the first 10 since Bambi. It’s animation, music, and purpose makes it stand above the rest of the anthologies released before it and puts it among the best Disney had offered at that time.

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