Robin Allan gives his reassessment of a rarely shown Disney feature length cartoon that is out on video.
It is forty years since the release in 1946 of Disney’s animated feature Make Mine Music. Most of it is forgotten, or confused with material from Melody Time (1948). But it deserves reassessment; as David Rider said of a rare screening of the entire film at the Tribute to Walt Disney Retrospective in 1970 at the National Film Theatre, “Of the ten sequences, seven are perfectly satisfactory… and in some cases they are quite excellent.” A few of the sections crop up out of context on Disney TV shows or as special items for theatrical release, but on the whole, since the film was not particularly successful at the time, the studio has left it on the shelf to gather dust. Even a wretched new so-called biography The Real Walt Disney, by Leonard Mosley (Grafton. 1986) pays scant attention to this period and comments on only two of the nine animated features released between 1943 and 1950.
The nine films were: Saludos Amigos (1943), Victory Through Air Power (1943), The Three Caballeros (1945), Make Mine Music (1946), Song of the South (1946), Fun and Fancy Free (1947), Melody Time (1948), So Dear to My Heart (1949) and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad (1949). All the films except the last contained some live action, either integrated with or separate from the animation, and two of them had very short cartoon sections indeed.
It is time to blow the dust off much original and experimental work, more particularly because over exposure to the Disney classics through periodic theatrical release, has recently been augmented (in the United States) by the unprecedented release in 1985 of four animated features on video. These were Alice in Wonderland, Dumbo, Pinocchio and Robin Hood. Admirable as this increasing accessibility of well-known titles may be, it pushes the forgotten films further into obscurity.