Melody Time (1948) Review — American Folktale Choir

Hee-haw!

  • Melody Time is basically the spiritual sequel to Make Mine Music in that it’s also just a bunch of short narratives or mood pieces accompanied by music that was popular at the time. Coupled with great Disney animation and creative imagery like a bee running away from musical notes trying to crush him in sync with the music, it’s definitely a sense-pleasing experience.
  • Like Make Mine Music, I can’t think of any short that I didn’t think was a waste, but I also don’t remember as many of the shorts in Melody Time as I did with its predecessor. The Blame it on the Samba one with Donald and Jose is pretty forgettable, and the one with the trouble-making boat was pretty cliche. I’m sure there’s one or two others that I don’t even remember enough to give a summary of as well, but the point is that Melody Time is just more Make Mine Music in the end, so if you like that film, you’ll probably like this.

Mr. Bee, you have an overdue library card and if you don’t pay it off soon, we will come to kill you

  • The two shorts most people seem to remember are the ones with Johnny Appleseed and Pecos Bill, with the former’s story being the highlight thanks to its heartwarming story and bright visual metaphors. It’s a pretty simple tale, given how it’s just Johnny inspiring hope in people by planting apple trees all across Mid-Western America as a symbol of hope during the pioneer days, but it hits you in the feels in all the right ways even if the actual storytelling can be kinda corny. Plus the song is really catchy.
  • Pecos Bill’s short is more in the vein of something from Warner Brothers in that it’s mostly just silly slapstick, along with Pecos’ horse being a bastard to the point that he sends the love interest to the moon and never gets punished for it. And that’s not a once-off joke either. She gets sent there, never to return, and Pecos just goes on with life like nobody’s business. Depending on how you interpret that scene, the horse is either a hero or someone you want to cook for dinner.
  • On a side note, it’s also kind of weird that Pecos Bill’s story is the one the movie ends on given how it’s the most cartoonish of the bunch, but what do I know about animation production in the 40s?
  • Aside from those two though, there’s not really much point in describing the shorts unless you want to analyze the visuals – in which case you’ll definitely have a blast. There’s a lot to say about the ice-skating scenes, the Trees segment, and that scene where Johnny’s apple trees actually grow big enough to form a stairway to heaven when he ends up dying of old age. Obviously I’m too under-qualified to really give my own analysis, plus the emotions represented by the imagery isn’t really something I consider worthy of analysis in of itself, but I hope there’s an animation nut reading this review who gets inspired to check the movie out for him/herself and write their own visual essay.

Cheesy but effective symbolism right here

  • Good music, good animation, and good usage of limited time, Melody Time is definitely an easy recommendation.

Minor Quips

  • Donald stars in more Disney Animated Canon films than Mickey, and that is a situation that doesn’t make the least bit of sense.
  • I don’t hate Little Toot. I just don’t think the same determination that causes problems should be used to solve them.

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