Melody Time is an anthology of mostly musical short films. Some have regular plots and others are pretty free-form in nature, but all of them are enjoyable by kids of all ages.
The film begins with Once Upon a Wintertime, a fanciful winter tale of courting and daring rescue. Two rabbits follow a young couple in a horse-drawn sleigh to a frozen lake, and then imitate the actions of the humans as the man teaches his girl how to ice skate. The animation style is very cute and stylistic, and this is one of my favorites.
Bumble Boogie follows up the first with a surrealistic experience for a bumble bee as it avoids musical notes and instruments trying to interfere with it going about its business. It uses some interesting animation techniques, though it isn’t one I enjoy as much as the others.
I remember seeing The Legend of Johnny Appleseed in elementary school a few times. Featuring a cantankerous guardian angel who guides Johnny in the way of planting apples throughout the Midwest, it has whistleable tunes and likeable characters. It also teaches you to think outside the box by showing that you can reach for your dreams and obtain them if you really put forth the effort.
The animation style has similarities to that used in Once Upon a Wintertime and Trees, which isn’t surprising since many of the same people worked on them. It also had the feel of some of the background animation work on Sleeping Beauty. This was definitely one of my favorites of the bunch.
All of us have rushed into things without thinking before, right? Well, in Little Toot, we meet a young tugboat who only wants to be like his dad. Little Toot often gets carried away and goofs off, causing him to be punished for causing big problems. He eventually saves the day, however, and learns how to put in hard work despite apparently-insurmountable odds. The story was really cute and will especially be enjoyed by younger viewers.
Trees was a love affair with the beauty of trees, setting the poetry of Joyce Kilmer to music. There was no plot or story outside of the changing of the seasons and the beauty of nature. It was really relaxing and beautifully animated, and there really isn’t anything else to say about it.
We revisit Donald Duck, his Brazilian friend José Carioca, and the psychotic (but in a friendly way) Aracuan bird as they enjoy smooth moves in Blame It on the Samba. This is the only one of the shorts to feature live action (similar to that found in The Three Caballeros and Saludos Amigos). While I enjoyed the music (I always love a samba), this was my least favorite of the shorts.
Anyone from Texas can tell you the story of Pecos Bill, and this animated short does an excellent job visualizing all the outlandish traits and actions of this iconic Texas legend. From his humble beginnings being raised by coyotes to his courtship of the equally-fantastical Slue-Foot Sue, I thoroughly enjoyed this telling of the tale.
Melody Time is a great classic collection of Disney works, and is an excellent addition to any library. The variety of animation styles and the variety of stories is sure to keep everyone interested. I enjoy it every time I watch it.
Release Date: May 27, 1948 (USA)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (some depictions of smoking)
Sexuality: 1 (mild innuendo in Pecos Bill segment)
Violence: 1 (slapstick violence, some scary imagery)