We’ve finally made it to the double digits: the 10th film in the Disney Canon, Melody Time! Continuing on through the package film era, Melody Time represents something akin to what we’ve seen in Make Mine Music. Released in 1948, Melody Time is a package film composed of multiple animated shorts set to popular music from the time period. Let’s take a look at each short individually:
First, we have Once Upon a Wintertime.
It’s a small musical segment sung by the American singer, Frances Langford, in which we see two couples in love during the wintertime. One of the couples is human whilst the other is of the rabbit species. In both cases, the males do their best to woo the females and appease them when things go wrong. The segment takes a turn for the worst, though, when the females’ lives are endangered!
Secondly, we have Bumble Boogie.
This is a short, trippy segment about a bee being attacked by musical piano keys! It’s set to the music of Flight of the Bumblebee in a new swing-jazz rendition by Freddy Martin and his orchestra. This is probably the most visually appealing segment in the film as it gets quite psychedelic a la Pink Elephants on Parade. You have flowers that are musical horns, flowers made of piano petals, a piano keyboard that transforms into a piano-snake, a piano keyboard that transforms into a cage, a piano keyboard whose keys separate from themselves, etc. If you’re up for something trippy, this is sure to satisfy your palate!
Thirdly, we have The Legend of Johnny Appleseed.
This is one of the two longer segments of the film and arguably, the one that stands out the most in people’s minds. It retells the legend of the American folk hero, Johnny Appleseed, who was said to have walked the country planting apple trees. It’s one of the few Disney shorts to have some mention of religion in it, complete with a guardian angel character and a song entitled, The Lord’s Been Good to Me. All the characters in the film are said to have been voiced by the actor, Dennis Day.
Fourthly, we have Little Toot.
In this musical narrative sung by the Andrews Sisters (in their last film role), we are introduced to the character of Little Toot, a young tugboat who’s a bit mischievous. Although he always means well, his actions get him into all sorts of trouble, from being reprimanded to getting hundreds of civilians injured/killed to even getting himself banished! Yeah, it’s pretty bleak, but you’ll have to see it for yourself to know how it ends!
Fifthly, we have Trees.
Based on the popular poem of the same name, we see an interestingly animated visual poem sung by Fred Warren and the Pennsylvanians. It’s definitely one of the more artistic of the segments with the style of the drawings reflecting the lyrics of the poem.
Sixthly, we have Blame It on the Samba.
In it, we see José Carioca, Donald Duck, and the Aracuan Bird from The Three Caballeros. The premise of the segment is that José Carioca and Donald Duck are depressed and just overall blue. But the Aracuan Bird cheers them up with a little samba music, showcasing the power of the samba! There is also a brief live-action segment with organist, Ethel Smith, which further impresses upon the audience the The Three Caballeros-ness of this segment.
And Finally, we have Pecos Bill, the longest segment of the bunch.
It starts off with a live-action sequence wherein Roy Rogers, Bob Nolan, and the Sons of the Pioneers explain to two young kids, played by Disney stars Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten, the story of the Texan folk hero, Pecos Bill. It then cuts to the animated part of the segment showcasing Pecos Bill’s life and his impact on Texas including digging the Rio Grande, painting the Painted Desert, and falling in love with a wild redhead named Slue-Foot Sue. This segment is especially interesting as in recent years, scenes portraying Pecos Bill smoking have been removed.
Summing up, as a package film, it’s a decent viewing that reminds one a lot of Make Mine Music. While I do think Make Mine Music is a better film with more enjoyable segments, this film does have enough to hold its own.
Mark is a self-professed animation fanatic and Disnerd having cultivated a predilection towards animated films during his childhood. His favorite animation studio is Disney and his favorite animated film of all time is Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Other animated films that he loves include The Lion King, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Robin Hood, The Jungle Book, The Adventures of Tintin, The Peanuts Movie, Monsters, Inc., and Inside Out, amongst many others.