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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Disneyear: Make Mine Music (1946)

Remember how I said in Fantasia that Walt wanted to make more Fantasia movies every year? Well you'll also remember that financially speaking, this was an ambitious idea at best. So that said, it seems a little ironic that Make Mine Music is pretty much the same movie as Fantasia? The difference being that this movie incorporates more popular music at the time with some classical music. If I'm right, some of these bits were leftovers from Fantasia. Is it as good? Let's find out.

Again, I'm looking at each segment of the film then reviewing the movie as a whole.

If you have an uncut copy of the movie, then the first segment of the film would be The Martins and the McCoys as sung by  The Kingsman. The famous feud between the two hillbilly families ends when the last of each's kin fall in love. This is easily the funniest part of the movie, so this is a good start to the film. The reason why you don't see it in current copies is because of comic gun play. Kind of silly to me since Elmer Fudd is still out there blasting Daffy Duck's beak off...
Just saying...

The next segment is the Ken Darby Singers sing Blue Bayou. I've already talked about this segment in the blog, which you can view here. Kind of funny, I talked about this one right before I started the Year of Disney. Well, since most of my opinion of this is on that post, I'll skip this part.

Ok, moving on with Benny Goodman's All the Cats Join In. Wait, didn't I discuss this one too? Well, that was one of my first posts and my opinion's changed over time. While I still enjoy Goodman's music, this one feels like a mini time capsule for 1946. While it seems outdated in some parts, it still has charm.

What's next? Without You by Andy Russel. Like Fantasia's Toccata and Fugue in Fantasia, this one doesn't have much of a story, just some great imagery mixed with the music. It's done well and I love the atmosphere, but for some odd reason it doesn't strike a chord with me like Toccata and Fugue does.

Remember Casey at the Bat? Of course you do! If you don't, then you have no childhood. Just saying. Anywho, narrated by Jerry Colonna (who's going to be in another movie I'll review later this year) the great baseball player of 1902 plays for the win but his ego gets the best of him in the end. With great narration by Colonna, funny gags, well-timed, good animation on par with the great Goofy cartoons, this segment is one of my personal favorites. (I later found out that it's directed by Jack Kinney. No wonder I like it so much!)

The pace slows down a bit now with Two Silhouettes sung by Dinah Shore. Here, we see two dancers obviously rotoscoped to dance in front of animated backgrounds. Don't get me wrong, the choreography is great, but I think I respect it more than I enjoy it.

Up next is another leftover from Fantasia, Peter and the Wolf. Narrated by Sterling Holloway, the story is told in a slightly different manner than before, like the animals now have names, it takes place in the winter, and the duck comes out alive in the end. The music's still good, the animation is good, and I kind of enjoy Holloway's narration as usual. By the way, the Holloway counter is now up to four. There's also a little bit of Russian culture in the film. Even the language is shown from time to time. That's pretty cool. Despite the fact that there are superior adaptations out there, like Suzie Templeton's 2006 adaptation, I still regard this as another favorite segment of mine in the film.

Benny Goodman comes back in After You've Gone. It shows Benny's famed instrument of choice, a clarinet as well as a few others dancing in tune to the music. It's got great animation and music, but it's nothing special. I still enjoy it, though.

Johnny Fedora and Alice Blue Bonnet is a love story between two department store hats sung by the Andrews Sisters. We see poor Johnny get separated from his love, used by different people, and his endless quest to find Alice. In the end, they reunite as hats for horses and live happily together for the rest of their days. I think this is the cutest segment of the film. I like as much as I do another Disney short called Susie the Little Blue Coupe. Check it out. They're almost one in the same.

Disney saved the best for last in the bittersweet finale of The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met. With an opera talent scout hears of a singing whale, he believes that the whale swallowed an opera singer. So he and a crew set out to "rescue" the singer. Turns out the whale, named Willy, really can sing. So he sets off to find the scout and perform for him with the hopes that he'll sing at the Met. This is easily the best segment in the whole movie. My favorite thing about it is that all of the singing voices in the cartoon are done by Nelson Eddy. All of them. That is epically amazing! I know not a lot of folks have seen this one, so I'll post only half of it and if you like it, you can keep watching it on Youtube. Without giving too much away, that sad face mask in the beginning sums up the ending.

And that's Make Mine Music. I found out a lot of folks bash it, but to be honest, I liked this film a lot. I think it's kind of underrated. While clearly not on par with Fantasia in that it's not quite as respectable as Fantasia,  Make Mine Music still mostly entertaining. These segments later got cut into separate releases like Three Caballeros on the Disney Channel. The difference being that all of these shorts work well together and separate, unlike Caballeros, where it's fun at first but it wears off during the last third. My only qualm is that I didn't really enjoy two of the segments as much as I did the others. Oh well, that's me. I recommend checking this film out if you want to see all these shorts together and seeing them for yourself.

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