World War II continued to cut into Disney's budget so their eighth feature film in 1946 was another anthology film. Make Mine Music could also be seen as a jazz Fantasia, pairing imaginative and surreal animation with the music of Benny Goodman, Dinah Shore, The Andrews Sisters, Andy Russell, The Pied Pipers, and The Ken Darby Chorus. But also mixed in were classical numbers and shorts much more in line with Disney's comedy shorts. It certainly never reaches the ambitious heights of Fantasia or even the glorious hedonism of The Three Caballeros. But it's a nice collection of music videos.
It's also the first of Disney's animated feature films not to be included on Disney+. The reason isn't clear. It might be for the first segment, The Martins and the Coys, though this segment was edited out of an earlier DVD release so it's not clear why this couldn't have been done for Disney+. All of the segments in the film were later shone on television as standalone shorts and even in this format, even thoroughly tame shorts like Two Silhouettes, aren't available on Disney+.
Segments like Two Silhouettes, Blue Bayou, and Without You remind one of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger movies--in fact, Powell unsurprisingly was a great professed admirer of Disney. The gorgeous exercises in colour and design paired with music could've come right out of The Red Shoes or Tales of Hoffmann.
They do sit oddly beside other segments. Casey at the Bat, a parable about the folly of pride in the form of a conceited baseball player, is much like a Donald or Goofy cartoon, as is The Martins and the Coys.
Based loosely on the infamous 19th century Hatfields and McCoys feud, the short depicts two identical groups of bearded hillbillies (distinguishable by their shirt colours) massacring each other. This might indulge a bit in the stereotype of white American southerners as gun loving morons--interestingly, Song of the South was released the same year.
Once the dust settles, the last remaining Martin and last remaining Coy, a handsome young man and a beautiful young woman, fall in love. But fortunately, the short dodges a dull moral and shows the two resuming hostilities after marriage.
Most of the shorts have the simple colour palettes of 1950s Disney but The Martins and the Coys has some of the lush, painterly backgrounds of the likes of Bambi and Snow White.
All the Cats Join In, meanwhile, makes its unfinished look part of the story as animators' pencils desperately try to keep up with the horny bobbysoxers dancing to a lively Benny Goodman tune. The energy in this segment is terrific, though, and it's hard not to smile watching this kids rampaging.
The most disappointing segment is Peter and the Wolf. Based on Sergei Prokofiev's famous composition for children, its animated characters are amusing and filled with personality, particularly the bird, Sascha. But the tension in the story is dissipated at every turn. The wolf never feels like a genuine threat because every character's hilarious escape from his jaws is shown without hesitation.
The best two segments in the film, Johnny Fedora and Alice Blue Bonnet and The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met, succeed precisely where Peter and the Wolf fails.
With a serenade by The Andrews Sisters, we follow Johnny the anthropomorphised fedora as he seeks his mate, a feminine blue bonnet. Every problem that besets Johnny is credible and seemingly insurmountable. How can a hat impose enough control over his own existence to actually get where he wants to go? When he's blown by a gust of wind into the hands of a reckless drunkard and starts to become tattered, it's an effective source of anxiety. How can Johnny ever possibly recover himself, let alone Alice, now? That's real suspense and the story is very sweet.
And then there's the tragic whale voiced by Nelson Eddy--in all three uvulas. He's so big and weird and a little scary, particularly when he's playing Mephistopheles, which makes his simple hearted earnestness all the more effective. How can the impresario not see that the whale deserves the accolades? And yet his impression that there are in fact three opera singers trapped inside the whale does, on reflection, seem more credible. Alas for humanity unable to see the miracles before them.
Twitter Sonnet #1377
The lizard night collects the drops of heat.
Condensed in clouds the storm awaits a spark.
Its vapour coils round the mountain's seat.
In moments light defines the clean and stark.
The puzzle ponies lock from hoof to tail.
In seconds, rain concocts deluges neat.
We sat beside the cloud and filled the pail.
The absent drops yet tapped a steady beat.
The greens beyond your eyes beset your soul.
McDonalds' fries arrest the country mind.
A mushy burger melts and fills the bowl.
The story stars define the heaven's rind.
The cola query sent the Pepsi home.
The answers poured a "Coke" in bubble tome.