Fans of Roy Rogers and The Andrews Sisters Will Be Delighted
|"Melody Time" (1948).|
Unlike other eras of the studio's history, this "Package Era" veered from theme to theme, zigging and zagging in an attempt to build back the audiences that had been lost both at home and abroad because of the conflict.
|It's sad that Slue-Foot Sue, a great character, has been forgotten.|
There are also some risqué scenes as in some other Package Era films that show the animators were having a little fun and appealing to an older audience. Overall, it was a success with audiences, but basically, a time-filler as the studio regrouped for its return in the 1950s to classic fairytales.
|"Once Upon a Wintertime" is gorgeous but insubstantial|
- Once Upon a Wintertime: Frances Langford sings about two lovers, Jenny and Joe, who have an adventure in a winter wonderland while skating.
- Bumble Boogie: Freddy Martin and his Orchestra do their take on the Rimsky-Korsakov classic composition "Flight of the Bumblebee," naturally accompanied by an animation of a bumblebee bumbling along.
- The Legend of Johnny Appleseed: Irish Tenor Dennis Day sings the classic story of the pioneer who roams the land and plants apple trees, with the character voiced by Bobby Driscoll.
- Little Toot: The Andrews Sisters sing about a little tugboat who has difficulty taking after his father in a charming child's tale written by Hardie Gramatky.
- Trees: Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians sing the Joyce Kilmer poem "Trees," with the expected animation of nature in the changing seasons.
- Blame it on the Samba: The Dinning Sisters sing while Donald Duck and José Carioca reunite with the Aracuan Bird from "Saludos Amigos," learning to dance the samba.
- Pecos Bill: Bob Nolan narrates the story of Pecos Bill, an Old West gunfighter who was raised by coyotes and finds - and loses - love. His girlfriend Slue-Foot Sue attempts to ride Bill's horse Widow-Maker but gets bounced off and winds up trapped on the Moon. Roy Rogers and his Sons of the Pioneers provide the music.
|"Toot" remains great for children.|
In "Melody Time," the Bumble Boogie segment had been considered for "Fantasia" but ultimately cut. "Melody Time" is thus a sort of low-rent version of "Fantasia" which doesn't reach its heights of enduring resonance, but was more of an immediate crowd-pleaser than the higher-brow (but initially money-losing) "Fantasia."
|Johnny Appleseed finds an apple. There aren't a lot of surprises in "Melody Time."|
The tales themselves veer wildly from legendary tales that everyone knows and seem trite ("Johnny Appleseed") to trifles that are fun but would only have resonated with contemporary audiences ("Samba," "Wintertime") to ethereal confections that are so abstract that the focus drifts completely away from the animation to rather pedestrian musical numbers ("Bumble Boogie," "Trees"). It is as if Walt Disney had a bunch of projects that he didn't know what else to do with and stitched them together and threw against the wall, hoping that, even if you didn't like all of them, you'd find something in there to make you buy a ticket.
|Donald Duck reminds us of better Disney films.|
It's the Disney version of fast food, which was great while it was hot and fresh, and not so much now that it has sat around for a while. There's also the issue of consistency, with stories obviously aimed squarely at children ("Toot") alongside some that have obvious adult sexual references (in "Pecos Bill," his guns spontaneously pop out of their holsters and shoot as he kisses his lover). "Pecos Bill" was viewed as a children's favorite at the time (probably because of the presence of children's show star Rogers), though, so many people may have missed, ignored or secretly enjoyed the painfully obvious adult metaphors and graphics.
|Slue-Foot Sue may have an unfortunate name, but she's a true Disney babe.|
Times were changing, and "Melody Time" is best looked at as a time capsule at a turning point in American culture when the big bands and swing music were just about to recede while television was on the verge of changing the entire dynamic of the entertainment industry.
|I'm sure the animators had a lot of fun drawing those dripping pistols of Pecos Bill.|
Below is the trailer for "Melody Time."