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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske
Cast:
Roy Rogers, Trigger, Dennis Day, The Andrews Sisters, Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians, Sons of the Pioneers, The Dinning Sisters
Writing Credits:
Winston Hibler, Erdman Penner, Harry Reeves, Homer Brightman, Ken Anderson, Ted Sears, Joe Rinaldi, William Cottrell, Art Scott, Jesse Marsh, Bob Moore, John Walbridge, Hardie Gramatky (story, "Little Toot")

Tagline:
For Your All-Time Good Time!

Synopsis:
In the grand tradition of Disney's greatest musical classics such as Fantasia, Melody Time features seven classic stories, each enhanced with high-spirited music and unforgettable characters!

Donald Duck - an all-time Disney favorite - puts on a display of jazzy antics as the star of "Blame It On The Samba." Music becomes a real adventure for a busy bumble bee in "Bumble Boogie." From the mischievous young tugboat in "Little Toot," to the heros of legend and myth in "Johnny Appleseed" and "Pecos Bill," this feast for the eyes and ears entertains with wit and charm.

A timeless addition to your video collection, Melody Time is a delightful Disney classic with something for everyone in your family.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Monaural
Spanish Monaural
French Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 75 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 6/6/2000

Bonus:
• Two Animated Shorts
• Previews


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EQUIPMENT
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RELATED REVIEWS


Melody Time: Disney Gold Classics Collection (1948)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (Juky 22, 2008)

Time for some more "meat and potatoes" animation from Disney! Walt used that phrase to describe the path the studio needed to take in the mid-Forties. After a few lovely and lavish but expensive and financially unsuccessful films in the early part of that decade, Disney decided he couldn't afford to continue to bleed money with these beautiful failures. As such, the studio went with more basic projects for the second half of the decade to get themselves back onto more stable ground.

Financially, it worked. Beginning with the live-action/animated hybrid Saludos Amigos in 1943, relatively cheap and easy projects became the rule. From Saludos through 1949's The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, each and every Disney animated picture was a compilation of different segments, whether two fairly long stories (such as in Ichabod and 1947's Fun and Fancy Free) or a slew of short pieces.

Which brings us to the movie at hand: 1948's Melody Time. This picture comes across as an attempt to remake 1940's Fantasia with a less high-brow attitude. Instead of that film's classical music, all of the tunes in Melody fell firmly within the realm of the period's popular fare.

Ironically, though Disney's "meat and potatoes" pictures did bring the studio back into the black - which let them embark on another series of true animated classics in the Fifties - it's the films from the first part of the Forties that have stood the test of time. Movies like Pinocchio, Bambi and Fantasia may not have done well financially during their initial releases, but they've made back their costs and plenty more upon subsequent reissues. In addition, they've also earned the status of beloved classics.

The same can't be said for the cheaper fare like Melody. Since its initial appearance, this title has gone largely unnoticed. Oh, Disney geeks like myself know about it, and I'm sure it moved a few videotapes because of the Disney name, but it doesn't enjoy much of an audience these days.

I won't say that's appropriate, but I also won't tout this movie as an unfortunately ignored classic, for it's not. Melody provides intermittent pleasures but doesn't make for a consistently enjoyable experience.

Granted, it's difficult for any anthology of shorts to keep a viewer stimulated from start to finish, but this one seems less consistent than most. Highlights are few. Probably the best cartoons are the charming and witty "Little Toot" and the spunky tall tale "Pecos Bill". After that, it's a mixed bag. "Bumble Boogie" follows the somewhat impressionistic style of most of Fantasia's pieces and creates a lively and witty segment.

Once we get past those clips, however, I found myself mildly bored. Some of the remaining shorts in Melody are interesting than but they're not special. "Once Upon a Wintertime" is a modestly charming dual story of lovers – both human and rabbit - whose affairs echo each other; it's not much more than cute but it's watchable. "Blame It on the Samba" seems oddly out of place here; it looks like a leftover from 1945's Three Caballeros, as it also uses that film's combination of animation and live-action. Actually, I thought "Samba" worked better than most of the clips in Caballeros just because it seems unusual here – the style got old fast in the earlier film - but it still isn't terribly entertaining, even if it does feature good old Donald Duck. (The only other live-action footage found in either film comes before "Pecos Bill", as we see Roy Rogers and others; they talk and also perform "Blue Shadows On the Trail".)

One thing I don't like is when studios edit films. Some alterations are very insignificant, such as the hidden nudie pictures in The Rescuers; those were inserted as a gag and never meant to be part of the film, so their excision doesn’t bother me. However, Disney goes too far when they cut small bits of movies in the interest of cleaning up material that may not be "politically correct".

This pattern affected parts of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Saludos Amigos; the former lost some racy footage, while the powers-that-be chopped out some shots of Goofy smoking in the latter. The same anti-Joe Camel motive affects Melody Time, as frames of Pecos Bill puffing on a butt disappear. In the case of Saludos I was able to compare my unedited laserdisc to the altered DVD to exactly report the differences. Since Melody never appeared as a US LD, I don't own another copy of it in any format and I can't state the exact changes. From what I understand, he changes in the "Pecos Bill" shots are pretty minor, but they occur. (Bizarrely, a picture on the back of the DVD’s case shows Pecos Bill with cigarette dangling from his lip!)

These changes seem pointless and irritating. They also may backfire for the studio, as they seem to cut into sales; many Disney aficionados no longer will purchase the animated DVDs until reviews appear because they want to make sure they won't get yet another butchered product. The edits in Melody don't ruin it - they remain quite minor - but they don't add to its charm.


The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C-/ Bonus D+

Melody Time appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer seemed acceptable but not memorable.

Sharpness was one inconsistent weakest aspect of Melody. While parts of the film seemed crisp and clear, at times some scenes lapsed into mild fuzziness. The softness wasn’t extreme, but I did find it to be distracting on too many occasions. I detected no signs of moiré effects or jagged edges, and the print itself appeared surprisingly clean. I noticed a few small specks but not much, as the transfer showed almost no flaws.

Colors appeared decent. While they came across as reasonably vivid at times, other occasions showed moderately dull and flat tones. The film’s palette shifted a lot so some segments held up better than others, but in general I thought the hues were a little lackluster. Blacks also seemed a bit bland, though shadows appeared acceptably clear. Enough positive material appeared for this to be a “C+” presentation, but it didn’t endear itself to me.

The movie's monaural soundtrack also wasn’t anything special. Most of the problems came from speech; almost any time that we heard dialogue, it sounded rather rough and edgy. I could always understand what was said, but the speech appeared more distorted and less natural than it should have. Melody offered less dialogue than most films, so this flaw wasn't as severe as it could have been - most of the speech came from the narrator's comments between shorts and during the live-action parts of "Pecos Bill" - but I still found it problematic.

Surprisingly, the singing during the movie's almost-continuous songs didn't seem similarly flawed. The music remained fairly clear and smooth; it lacked much dynamic range, but songs sounded acceptably broad and vivid for such old material. Effects also lacked distortion and they generally came across as decently realistic and clean; we even heard a little bit of bass at times, such as during "Little Toot". On a few occasions, I noticed a mild layer of hiss, but this was fairly rare. For an old film, this soundtrack wasn't terrible, but the problems with speech forced me to knock it down to a "C-".

Melody Time doesn't present many supplements, but we find a few, most in the form of other cartoons. The DVD includes three additional shorts. We get 1954's Casey Bats Again, a fun seven-minute and 25-second "sequel" to the "Casey at the Bat" segment of Make Mine Music. (Why it appears here instead of on that DVD is anyone's guess.) In addition, we discover a great Donald Duck short called Donald Applecore (1952 - six minutes, 45 seconds) that also features Chip An' Dale, plus we see the charming Lambert the Sheepish Lion (1952, eight minutes and 10 seconds). It's a strong collection of shorts; actually, these three are probably better than anything in Melody itself.

Melody Time opens with a few promos. We find ads for the Disney Gold Classic Collection, The Little Mermaid II and The Tigger Movie. These also appear in the disc’s Previews area.

Melody Time has a few good cartoons but overall seems pretty ordinary and lacks much zing. It also doesn’t do much for me as a DVD. It presents ordinary picture and audio plus only minor extras. Collectors may be interested in Melody Time - although they'll be angered by minor alterations - but others should probably skip it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.625 Stars Number of Votes: 8
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21:
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main