Before I get into "Melody Time." Lets start off with something fun related to Disney. "Disney's 50 Animated Films."
With the exception of "Home on the Range" I saw all of these movies at least once in my life. So with that being said "Melody Time" is low on my list. Apparently this movie wasn't that popular either because I mentioned it to some people at work about it and none of them have seen it or even heard of it.
What is it about? The best way to describe this movie is that it was a "package feature." A package feature is a movie composed of two or more segments strung together in one piece. In the 1940's they were not making full length features due to the war, So they made a bunch shorts they could make into these films. Besides "Melody Time" Their was "Make Mine Music," "Fun and Fancy Free," etc.
"Melody Time" is similar to "Fantasia" in which music is used to tell the plot. Unlike "Fantasia" The music used in this movie is not all classical and there are lyrics. Also there is some segments that have singing in it but non-musical narration as well. Also this movie is more similar to "Make Mine Music" which came out two years earlier and follows a very similar story structure. Most people like "Fantasia," but few people give little praise or even aware of "Make Mine Music" or "Melody Time." Perhaps these movies don't seem to be as well put together or the segments itself are weaker.
"Melody Time" is made up as seven segments so it's best to describe and evaluate each segment in this review.
"Once upon a Wintertime" Sung By: Frances Langford
A romantic little bit with a sleigh ride thru the snow and some ice-skating. It's romantic there are cute bunnies in it. Seeing how this is the first song you may have lost your little boy audience whom thinks romance is silly girl stuff. With that being said I'm grown up and I don't mind romance and love stories. However I don't like it that much, it's okay but the little boy in me sees this as girl stuff. "Once upon a Wintertime" isn't exactly bad I just don't really care for it so much myself.
"Bumble Boogie" performed By: Freddy Martin And His Orchestra with Jack Fina playing the piano
This is a jazzy version of "Flight of the Bumble Bee" in which a Bee is literally getting attack by musical notes. If you ask me this is how the movie should start. It is fun, fast, and colorful. This piece really grabs your attention and the music is so upbeat. This is my second favorite piece because it just is so awesome to look at and so much fun to listen to.
"The Legend of Johnny Appleseed" Narrated and Voiced By: Dennis Day
This is second longest short and in my opinion the best. This one uses narration and singing to tell the tale of John Chapman better known as Johnny Appleseed and how he planted the great frontier with apple trees. I had this as a separate short on VHS when I was younger. I liked it then and I like it now. It really is amazing how good this story is seeing how is about a man planting apple trees. I like it and I like the songs. The song where Johnny thanks the Lord for being so blessed is fun and pleasant to sing. Also it ends so perfectly with the image of the clouds blending in with the apple trees.
"Little Toot" Sung By: The Andrew Sisters
Out of all of these this is the one that is the most juvenile. It is about a little tug boat that misbehaves. If I saw this a young boy I might have liked it. As a adult I think it is too child-like for me to really enjoy.
"Trees" Sung By: Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians
This is Joyce Kilmer's poem "Trees" set to music. To me I find this to be the most boring out all the pieces. Yeah it looks great and the music is pleasant, but it is just trees. Now then I have nothing against trees. I like nature. In fact I prefer the great outdoors compared to the city. It's just that nature can be more interesting like in "Fantasia 2000"'s "Firebird." That was really something. "Melody Time's" "Trees" just seems a little boring to me so I don't really like it.
"Blame It on the Samba" With: Ethel Smith playing the organ and Sung By: The Dinning Sisters
This by by far is the most unusual out of the seven shorts in this video. It features Donald Duck, Jose "Joe" Carioca, (of "Saludos Amigos" and "The Three Caballeros") The Aracuan Bird (Also from "The Three Caballeros") and live action appearance of Ethel Smith. Jose and Donald are literally feeling blue that until the Aracuan Bird plays them Samba in are thrown into a "Samba World" within a giant drink. I like the visuals, but as far as Samba music goes it isn't its best. I like it, but I don't like a whole lot. Altogether I find this piece just okay.
"Pecos Bill" Told By: Roy Rogers and the Sons of Pioneers With: Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten in opening segment
This is the longest short. Also it has narration in as well a live action opening by Roy Rogers. Roy talks about a boy named Bill that was raised by coyotes and grew up to be known as the legendary Pecos Bill, with his horse Widowmaker. Widowmaker and Bill were the best of friends until Slue Foot Sue came between them. This story isn't so bad until it ends. I don't mind sad endings, but the way Bill loses Sue is too unusual for me to feel sad about it. I think this short like some others would have been better if I seen it as a child. Now as a grown up, it doesn't do much for me.
Overall "Melody Time" is okay. It could be better it could be worse. Some of the shorts I really like, others not so much. So I think this movie is more for kids than adults and that is fine, because that is who its made for. On the other hand Disney is known for entertain children and adults alike so this movie falls short on that. So to sum things up: this movie isn't so bad, but to me it definitely isn't Disney's best.