Friday, January 29, 2010

DAF #48 - Melody Time (1948)

Title: Melody Time
Year: 1948
Rated: G
Run Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes 

Plot: A group of eight animated segments set to original modern (for 1948) music.
Based on: Original stories; The Legend of Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman); The poem "Little Toot" by Hardie Gramtaky; The poem "Trees" by Alfred Joyce Kilmer; The American legend of Pecos Bill.
Settings: Winter Wonderland; Mindfuck Bumblebee Land; American Frontier; Eastern Seaboard; The Forest; Three Caballeros Land; Texas.

Tagline: For Your All-Time Good Time!

First Viewing: Spring, 2006 on Netflix.

As we work our way up the ass end of my DAF ranking, we will encounter all 6 package films in a fairly quick succession. Third from the bottom is 1948's Melody Time, a sort of Fantasia-esque feature but with modern (40's) music. This format had already been initiated with 1946's Make Mine Music, (Don't worry, it's coming soon!) but this particular film was a tad less my opinion. Let's take a look at the 8 segments all introduced by a singing mask...

"Once Upon a Wintertime" sung by Frances Langford – Romance. I should like it then, right? No. I don't give a shit about Joe and Jenny (yes, those are their official names according to my Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters book). They ride in a one horse (I mean, two horse) open sleigh and go ice skating and a pair of romantically linked rabbits mimic them. Jenny and She-Rabbit get pissed at their respective partners and then huffily rush onto a piece of thin ice. It's up to the menfolk to save them, and save them they do.

"Bumble Boogie" – A lone bumblebee flies erratically through a strange colorful world of flowers, musical instruments, and musical symbols and notes.

"The Legend of Johnny Appleseed" told and sung by Dennis Day – John Chapman, a young apple grower wants to go west but fears he is too weak for the pioneer life. "Johnny's Angel" appears and sends him off with confidence to plant apple trees around the Ohio River region for 40 years, until he is called up to heaven.

"Little Toot" sung by The Andrews Sisters –  A mischievous young tugboat shame his father and then returns to save the day.

"Trees" sung by Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians – An animated ode to the poem "Trees" by Alfred Joyce Kilmer.

"Blame It On the Samba" performed by Ethel Smith and the Dinning Sisters – To all of you out there who have seen Saludos Amigos or The Three Caballeros, you will be delighted to see Jose Carioca and Donald Duck chase after Latin American ass once again. Sigh. An obvious leftover from one those movies. Were they really that likable a pair?

"Pecos Bill" told by Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers – For some unknown reason, Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten (from So Dear to My Heart and Song of the South) are chilling in the middle of Texas with Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers. Young Bobby asks why coyotes howl at the moon. Roy and his buddies then tell the tall tale of the rise and fall of American legend, Pecos Bill, his noble steed Widowmaker, and his lady fair, Sluefoot Sue.

Pecos Bill is my favorite by default. Mainly, this is because I love how much Widowmaker hates his friend being stolen away by that hussy Sluefoot Sue. ("He never wants to play since his bitch moved in.")  It's his fault that she ended up on the moon. And the very sinister side of me is happy that Widowmaker succeeds. I suppose its sort of tragic that Pecos spends the rest of his life howling at the moon, but then again, I don't really give a shit about anyone in this movie.

Melody Time has a bit of controversy surrounding it. The movie was first released on video in 1998 (and then got another release in 2000 for the why-the-fuck-not Gold Collection). The bigwigs at Disney feared Pecos Bill's near constant cigarette would make the kiddies want to take a trip to Marlboro country just like their favorite package film hero. So the fag was digitally removed along with a verse in the song "Pecos Bill" that apparently deals with tobacco.

Is it a big loss? Eh...I don't know. It seems like SOOOOO much work especially when nothing is done to remove Jose Carioca's ever present cigar in Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, and even our very own Melody Time. Is parrot tobacco use acceptable or something?

Like with The Three Caballeros, I do not hate this film. In fact, the only one I legitimately HATE is Lilo & Stitch. I pretty much feel impartial to Melody Time. None of the segments really shout out to me and even my favorite little moments don't really make an impression. This is a pretty bland, forgettable movie but if you want to truly consider yourself a Disney-phile, at least one viewing is necessary.

“Melody Time" - Buddy Clark
"Once Upon a Wintertime" - Frances Langford
"Bumble Boogie" - Freddy Martin and His Orchestra featuring Jack Fina
"Oh the Lord is Good to Me" - Dennis Day
"A Lot of Work to Do" - Dennis Day
"Square Dance" - Dennis Day
"Little Toot" - The Andrews Sisters
"Trees" - Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians
"Blame it on the Samba" - Ethel Smith and the Dinning Sisters
"Blue Shadows on the Trail" - Roy Rogers and the Sons of Pioneers
"Pecos Bill" - Roy Rogers and the Sons of Pioneers

Favorite Song - "Pecos Bill" - Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers
Favorite Moment - "Pecos Bill"

Favorite Character - Widowmaker

Next Film - Oliver & Company (1988)

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