Make Mine Music is a 1946 animated musical anthology film by Walt Disney Productions. In traditional Disney style it features a blend of humour and poignancy.
Walt Disney Productions (now known as Walt Disney Animation Studios) is a pioneering animation studio. It first synchronised sound with animation in the Mickey Mouse cartoon Steamboat Willie in 1928, and first created animations to accompany music in the 'Silly Symphonies' cartoons (1929-1939). In 1940 Fantasia was released in cinemas - it features animations inspired by pieces of classical music, plus scenes combining animation and live action. Although it failed to make a profit when it first appeared in cinemas, Fantasia has become known as the third Disney Classic.
Make Mine Music, the eighth Disney Classic, again features animations inspired by pieces of music. Released in cinemas in 1946, it is essentially ten Silly Symphonies stuck together. Cheaper to make than Fantasia, it made a profit on first release, leading to another compilation film Melody Time1, the tenth Disney Classic, being released in 1948.
A variety of different types of music and styles of animation were used, creating an eclectic mix of scenes in the film. Some are funny while some are sad and others are more artistic.
'The Martins and the Coys', sung by The King's Men, is 'A Rustic Ballad'. The animation tells the tale of a Romeo-and-Juliet-like romance about a feud between two hillbilly families that spans generations.
'Blue Bayou', sung by the Ken Darby Chorus, is 'A Tone Poem'. The animation follows two Great White Egrets in the moonlight as they fly between trees and perch at the water's edge.
'All the Cats Join In' by Benny Goodman and his Orchestra is 'A Jazz Interlude'. In this animation, the characters are being drawn as they move around. Some of the humour reinforces stereotypes - a young woman objects to the size of her bottom, so the artist redraws her, then a young man who had previously ignored her fuller figure instantly falls in love.
'Casey at the Bat', performed by Jerry Colonna, is 'A Musical Recitation' (the song is spoken rather than sung). The words are taken from the 1888 poem of the same name by Ernest Thayer. A series of paintings lead into a humorous animation telling the tale of an overconfident baseball player2.
'Two Silhouettes', sung by Dinah Shore, is 'A Ballade Ballet'. The animation was created by tracing over each frame in a film of a dance performed by Tania Riabouchinska and David Lichine (this technique is known as 'rotoscoping'). The dancers' silhouettes dance across pastel-coloured floral backgrounds.
'Peter and the Wolf', composed by Sergei Prokofiev3 and narrated by Sterling Holloway, is 'A Fairy Tale'. Based on the original story from 1936, but with a happy ending, it tells the tale of a young boy who disobeys his grandfather by going outside to hunt a wolf. He is joined by his cat, Ivan, a duck (Sonia) and Sasha the bird.
'After You've Gone', by the Goodman Quartet, is a jazz tune featuring animated musical instruments dancing in time to the music.
'Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet', sung by the Andrews Sisters, is 'A Love Story'. The animation tells the tale of two anthropomorphic hats who fall in love - they are separated when Alice is purchased, but eventually they are reunited.
'The Whale who Wanted to Sing at the Met', performed by Nelson Eddy, is an 'Opera Pathétique'. The animation tells the tale of a whale with three uvulas that give him the ability to sing the tenor, baritone and bass parts of songs including 'Figaro's Aria' from The Barber of Seville. An impresario hears about the talented cetacean, but believes that the whale has swallowed three opera singers so decides to go and rescue them. Willie the Whale is seen on the cover of Time Magazine and plays operatic heroes such as Siegfried at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, but it is a dream - he has been harpooned by the impresario.
Troublingly, the narrator of the story says: 'Don't be too harsh' towards the impresario because he never expected a miracle. A more modern message would hope people would try to avoid destroying something simply because they don't understand it. However, Willie lives on, singing concerts inside the Pearly Gates.
Make Mine Music was released on DVD in 2013 with three short cartoon special features. The first is a Mickey Mouse short called Symphony Hour (1942) featuring Mickey and friends in an orchestra. Goofy has a mishap so the instruments are damaged, but the orchestra plays on regardless. Mickey struggles to hold everyone together, even resorting to threatening Donald Duck with a gun at one point, but 'the show must go on' and the audience enjoy the results. The second short is Band Concert (1935) - again Mickey is a conductor and his friends are the orchestra, playing Rossini's 'William Tell Overture' in a park. There are various distractions, including Donald playing a different tune and a storm springing up, but the band carries on. Lastly, there is Farmyard Symphony (1938), a Silly Symphony featuring the sounds made by farm animals when it is feeding time one morning.