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20 Weeks of Disney Animation: ‘Make Mine Music’

Make Mine Music was Walt Disney’s third package feature following his Latin America films, Saludos Amigos and The Three Cabarellos. During the wartime years, the studio saw a large amount of change in a relatively short time. From the animators strike to World War II, business was definitely not as usual. The company spent most of their time on wartime propaganda and Disney took a break from creating the traditional feature films he had become known for. When not making propaganda cartoons, he shifted his focus to short segments that would be pieced together as these package films. Make Mine Music is a film somewhat akin to Fantasia, largely because of its use of animation and music. However, both the films’ tone and the style of the music could not be more different. If Fantasia was Walt’s “concert feature”, this is his “cinema feature”. In contrast to Fantasia, Make Mine Music is presented as a definite movie, with each of its ten segments receiving posters of their own, which take the place of the Deems Taylor interstitials. The movie mostly alternates between upbeat, often jazzy numbers to quieter tunes.

Read: 20 Weeks of Disney Animation: ‘Saludos Amigos’ and ‘The Three Cabarellos’

There are ten total segments of Make Mine Music, which range widely in length. They are as follows: The Martins and the Coys, Blue Bayou, All the Cats Join In, Without You, Casey at the Bat, Two Silhouettes, Peter and the Wolf, After You’ve Gone, Johnny Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet and lastly, Willie the Operatic Whale. Some segments are more memorable than others, and for this reason, I am not going to discuss all ten of them. However, I will discuss the highlights and briefly touch on what I consider to be the best. The story driven segments are the ones that will definite capture general interest, but the film as a whole is definitely worth checking out.

The first segment of the film is The Martins and the Coys, which is a fun take on the true story of the feuding families. The US release completely omits this segment due to the mild gun violence but those that live in the UK can see it in its full glory on the most recent DVD release. The segment is silly and perfectly harmless, a great way to open this movie.

The second segment, Blue Bayou, features animation that was originally going to be in Fantasia, except with different music. In that version, it was animated to Claire de Lune, but the music was changed to better fit the context of Make Mine Music. Tonally, it could not be more different than the segment that came before which gives viewers a taste of the wide range that Make Mine Music offers.

All the Cats Join In is the first of two segments featuring Benny Goodman. It is delightful fun and the first one of the film to utilize jazz music. Featuring a live pencil drawing lines to the jazzy tune, the story is a simple one, focusing on several kids at an old fashioned malt shop.

Skipping over the forgettable fourth segment Without You, we return to another story-driven one, Casey at the Bat. Based on a baseball poem, it mostly consists of a reading of this poem animated to a baseball game, with some background music as well. The titular character of Casey seems to be the only character utilized by Disney in future projects, both appearing in a sequel cartoon as well as a restaurant named in his honor.

Peter and the Wolf, the films seventh segment, features a telling of the story narrated by legendary Disney voice artist Sterling Holloway. It opens with Holloway explaining the characters and how they are musically represented, something I love. This is a standout segment, both musically and as a story.

The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met is the final segment, and my favorite. After all, who doesn’t want to see a whale sing opera! The premise may sound silly, but the execution is both funny and heartbreaking. I highly suggesting seeking out at least this one segment, if not the whole film.

Unfortunately, Make Mine Music is a movie forgotten by many people, including, in many ways, the company itself. After all, it is the only film in the “canon” not available on Disney+, which strikes me as a glaring omission. The only official way to view the film is by buying the censored DVD that came out during the early days of DVD technology, way back in 2000.

Sequel: Casey Bats Again is a sequel to the fifth segment of the film, released eight years later in 1954.

Live-action remake: There is no live-action remake in the works for Make Mine Music (though the opera singing whale has great potential, in my opinion!)

Make Mine Music in the theme parks: Casey’s Corner, a baseball-themed restaurant in Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Paris, is inspired by Casey at the Bat and sells primarily hot dogs to guests.

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