Saturday, January 10, 2015

Project Disney- Melody Time

Project Disney: The plan is to tackle all of the Disney films, re-reading the classic stories and tales that inspired many of them and to look at how the changes the filmmakers made, the new elements they introduced and the essential elements they kept. We will, of course, be talking about the films as movies as well, saying why we enjoy them and what some of our favorite moments are, but our focus will be on looking at them as adaptations. For the films that are not drawn from any one work we’ll be looking at some of the possible literary influences that we see in the stories. I am participating in Project Disney inspired by Picture Me Reading!

This week's Project Disney is Melody Time...another lesser known Disney movie.  Released in 1948, this film is a collection of music sequences similar to the previous Disney films Make Mine Music, Fantasia and Fantasia 2000.   This was a difficult movie to find since it has not been rereleased since 1998 (and was never released from the theater till then!) so I got it through interlibrary loan. Melody Music is of course not remastered or in HD.  I could really tell... I think the anthology would be beautiful when redone.   The beginning of the film has a pretty little introduction musical.  So fun to listen to ... "Melody Time" is a catchy tune.   The film though is a little... boring.  I hate to say that but I can see why Disney hasn't bothered in releasing it again.

The first video in the collection is Once Upon a Wintertime.  This is based off an old Christmas song that really isn't popular anymore.  The segment shows a couple during their courting time through their memories. They go ice skating and there is almost an accident until there is a great rescue. This is beautiful!

Bumble Boogie is the next musical we get to enjoy.  This song was originally from an opera and titled “Flight of the Bumblebee” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.  In the opera the bee is actually a prince who is turned into an insect so he can fly and visit his father who doesn't know he is alive.  It is quite a beautiful song.... Disney's version puts a little bit of jazz into the track.  In the Disney interpretation there is a bumble bee who is trying to escape different objects like flowers shaped as piano keys and trumpets. It is a surreal psychedelic video that is colorful and was even considered to be included in Fantasia.

Next up we have The Legend of Johnny Appleseed.  This song shows the story of Johnny Chapman who was a real frontier man.  He would go through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois planting apples on the assumption that by doing this he was insuring a better afterlife (based on his religion). He was planting the trees for profit though, for example he would trade the apple seeds for supplies and what not.  He did die in his sleep as well.  The song for this segment "The Lord's Been Good to Me" is a real hymn that was song prior to the making of this short. Some parts of the story are not true and are apart of the folklore of Johnny Appleseed including the tin hat you see in the video. There is a lot of reference to religion in this short and I am sure Disney would not do this today to not offend anyone... though Johnny's religion was a big part of why he was doing what he was doing.

I checked out the book American Tall Tales by Mary Pope Osborne from the library to read this story.  Of course this is a story with the authors spin on it since that is what all Tall Tales are. I love that Disney presents this tale the way it does... what a fun way to learn about American literature. Disney is one of the places I was first introduced to characters like Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan,  and Johnny Appleseed.

Little Toot is based off of a book by Hardie Gramatky and since it's quite popular the book is easy to find since it is still in print. The book even went on to be a book series where Toot goes to San Fransisco and even meets the Loch Monster! I enjoyed the story and the watercolor illustrations in it which were also done by the author.  I was unable to find a video of this one .... so you will just have to go and find the DVD to watch it.  This one is a little scary... not just the animation but the song too.  It's the video I remember watching as a kid (probably because it's sad and scary).  That poor Little Toot!  He is just out to have some fun instead of working. In the book we find Toot experiencing a lot of different emotions which is probably why this is still a popular book today. It's about redemption, betrayal, depression, bullying, forgiveness, you name it! 

Trees is a musical based off the poem of the same name by Joyce Kilmore.  I'll be honest... this one also has a little bit of religions symbols.  At the very end the tree looks like the Cross on a hill.  Another thing Disney will probably not do again. This is the one film that I would think could be put into Fantasia rather then Bumble Boogie. I was able to find the poem online so here it is:

I THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,        
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain. 
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

This next colorful song is Blame it on the Samba which is an English version of “Apanhei-te, Cavaquinho,” by Ernesto Nazareth, a Brazilian composer.  In the video Donald an Jose are bored until Aracuan shows them the Samba.  Donald Duck, Jose Carioca, and the Aracuan bird reprise their roles from The Three Caballeros another feature Disney film. This is a fun song and had me wanting to dance around... there is even some live action footage mixed in.

Pecos Bill is next up.. I am sure you probably saw this one back in the day on the Disney channel, you know before is stopped showing Disney cartoons. Some of the footage was edited when released on home video in 1998.  In the original cartoon Pecos is smoking a cigarette so there are some odd hand movements from Pecos in the home video edition.   One thing I learned from this Project Disney is that Pecos Bill is not real folklore!  WHAT!  I know... he is actually a created story presented as if it was American folklore.  Confusing??  Pecos Bill falls under the category of fakelore. Fakelore is where a character is created and the author makes it seem like they were a folk hero of the American West.  The musical segment for this song includes some live action shots too.  I thought it was neat and the music is catchy. 

Pecos Bill was invented by Edward J O'reilly and eventually collected in a book (though I couldn't find that exact book).  I read the Pecos Bill story in American Tall Tales by Mary Pope Osborne which was a fun story to read. I was unable to find this video on youtube but I did happen to find an unedited version on the internet if you are interested in watching it. You can just play it and watch it.  In this one the Indians are still in it and Pecos Bill is still smoking his cigarettes. 

Have you seen this film???

Be sure to check out my other Project Disney:
 Snow White
Peter Pan
Treasure Planet
Sleeping Beauty
The Great Mouse Detective 
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Princess and the Frog
Beauty and the Beast
Lady and the Tramp
Alice in Wonderland
The Rescuers
The Rescuers Down Under
Oliver and Company
The Little Mermaid
101 Dalmatians
Fantasia 2000
The Jungle Book
The Emperor's New Groove
The Sword in the Stone
The Aristocats
The Lion King
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
Winnie the Pooh (2011)
Robin Hood
The Black Cauldron 
Mary Poppins
Lilo and Stitch 
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
Make Mine Music
Fox and the Hound


  1. Wow that is a lot of Disney you have watched or read. :) I don't think I have watched all the

  2. This is such a fun project! I LOVE Disney movies and have a ton, but I've never seen this one. I couldn't quite make it through Fantasia (maybe because I missed out on it as a kid), so I'm not sure if I'd like this one either, but I'd like to check it out sometime. Thanks for sharing :)

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

  3. I am pretty sure I have seen the tall tales segments but all of the rest of this is unknown to me. It's amazing how close you are now to having completed all of the movies!

  4. I like that you're doing these older ones too. My kid has been into watching those on Youtube lately. I think I've seen about 100 hours worth of Chip and Dale. lol

  5. I have not seen this one in it's entirety, but I think I have seen some perhaps on TV. And it's funny to think that probably most of my knowledge of American tall tales comes from Disney!

  6. I really love Disney! So to be able to watch the films and compare them to the books has been so much fun. I really don't have very many more movies to go. Kinda sad to me. Glad you are enjoying it!

  7. This one is very similar to Fantasia. It is older though then Fantasia and not as popular. I am sure the kids of today don't even know what this is. I only saw it because the Disney channel would play it. It hasn't even been released on bluray. I love music segments so I really enjoyed re-watching this film.

  8. The tall tales segments were played a lot on the Disney channel back in the day. So I bet you did see them if your parents "paid" for the Disney channel. I still can't believe that used to be a pay channel!

  9. It is amazing what you can find on youtube. This movie is one that you can almost watch in it's entirety on there. Sometimes though I will through it and every now and then Disney has pulled the film but usually they leave these old music videos alone.

  10. I didn't even think about my knowledge of American Tall Tales coming from Disney till this review. I was like even singing the songs in my head since somewhere there in my memory they were still lurking. So fun!

  11. I kind of feel let down that Pecos Bill was not a real person.

  12. I haven't seen or watched this one but it sounds entertaining. I saw both versions of Fantasia are on Netflix now so I was thinking I'd check those out since I only vaguely remember the original. I'll have to keep an eye out for this one.

  13. I had no idea there were such things as fakelore till this Project Disney! I mean who know. Well a lot of people probably know that but whatever. Still shocked.

  14. I actual have this on vhs tape. LOL I hope they redo it.

  15. Ho wonderful!! I am surprised it's not be re-released on DVD in such a long time. But if it's not a best seller then that might be one of the reasons why.

  16. I don't know if I've seen the movie - but I remember all those shorts. I must have seen them like on the Disney channel or if they aired in pieces on tv at certain times of the year. The Christmas one I remember the most. I also remember a Paul Bunyon short.

    So crazy to think about these old stories and know they're still around, sort of :)

  17. I remember the Paul Bunyon one too and I am not sure which Disney movie that one is featured in. I have one more music one from the Disney Cannon to cover coming up so it might be from that one. I really don't hear people talk much about American Tall Tales. I don't even remember covering it in college and I did take an American literature course.

  18. I really like these old Disney musical films! Fantasia is so neat, and whilst some of them can be a bit odd, it’s an interesting insight to the music of the time, stories and animation. And incredible how differently things would be done today!

    I’ve actually seen Once Upon a Wintertime, and the animation is so nice! I don’t love the story it tells all that much, but the animation! Nice colours and shapes and everything. I can’t remember exactly what film collection it’s on… a Disney christmas DVD, Winter Wonderland, I think.

  19. I have one more Project Disney that is a collection of videos that I keep putting off. I may get to it tonight. I've decided that these are my least favorite of the Disney movies. They get tedious and it's no wonder they aren't popular anymore. I like watching them a little at a time ... but it seems like I saved the musical films all for the end of Project Disney!