Promotional poster for Bugs in Love 1932
Director: Burt Gillett
Image courtesy: Disney Enterprises, Inc
Walt Disney followed up his popular early Mickey Mouse cartoons with the Silly Symphonies — dynamically choreographed musical animations. Inaugurated with The Skeleton Dance
1929, the Silly Symphonies continued to be produced throughout the following decade reworking classical tales and nursery rhymes to soundtracks ranging from jazz and popular classics to
original compositions. The Australian Cinémathèque program of 35 Silly Symphonies is the largest ever to be presented internationally.
LECTURE: Silly Symphonies
Russell Merritt, co-author with JB Kaufman of Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series (Cineteca del Friuli, Italy, 2006), the first in-depth exploration of the Disney series.
Sat 29 March 2.00pm / Cinema B
All text for filmnotes below are from Merritt and Kaufman Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies.
Silly Symphonies: Sound and Dance All ages 70mins
Fri 28 March 5.30pm / Cinema A
The Skeleton Dance 1929
35MM, BLACK & WHITE, MONO, 6 MINS, USA, NO DIALOGUE / DIRECTOR: WALT DISNEY / ANIMATION: UB IWERKS, LES CLARK, WILFRED JACKSON / MUSIC: CARL STALLING
Four skeletons, conjured up from their graves by the twelve strokes of midnight, dance and cavort to music. One skeleton beats mallet-like bones on the ribs of another. Yet another skeleton plays a cat like a bass violin, then others shimmy and Charleston. Everyone dances and plays until driven back underground by the cock’s crow at sunrise.
The score includes an excerpt from Grieg’s “March of the Dwarves” (1893) for the skeleton on the ribcage xylophone.
Hells Bells 1929
35MM, BLACK & WHITE, MONO, 6 MINS, USA, NO DIALOGUE / DIRECTOR: UB IWERKS / ANIMATION: UB IWERKS, LES CLARK, JOHNNY CANNON, WILFRED JACKSON, JACK CUTTING / MUSIC: CARL STALLING
Inside a cave, a devil king presides over a court that includes a three-headed dog and a flying snake. An imp band and dance ensemble entertain the king with music from Gounod's "Funeral March of a Marionette." After the devil king drinks fire milked from the udder of a dragon, he eats one of his devil servants and pursues a second one over a cliff.
The score includes a snippet of Mendelssohn’s “Spring Song” (1843); Gounod’s “Funeral march of a Marionette” (1873); a few bars of Mendelssohn’s Fingal’s Cave; and part of Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” (1876).
Birds of a Feather 1931
35MM, BLACK & WHITE, MONO, 8 MINS, USA, NO DIALOGUE / DIRECTOR: BURT GILLETT / ANIMATION: LES CLARK, NORM FERGUSON, DICK LUNDY, DAVE HAND, JOHNNY CANNON, BEN SHARPSTEEN, TOM PALMER, JACK KING, FRENCHY DE TRÉMAUDAN, JACK CUTTING / MUSIC: BERT LEWIS
Birds cavort along a river bank: three swans, a black goose, and a peacock honk and preen to "The Barcarolle." Birds in a tree perform too, including three sister owls who harmonize nonsense words. A magpie steals into a nest and swipes a worm to feed its own young nestled in the trap door of a scarecrow's union suit. When a soaring chicken hawk swoops down to steal a mother hen’s black chick, a blackbird sounds the “Furioso” through a funnel and a fighter squadron of birds forms. With power dives the squadron fights off the chicken hawk and the chick returns unharmed to its mother.
The title derives from a Mother Goose Wise saying: "Birds of a feather flock together! And so will pigs and swine."
The score includes excerpts from “The Barcarolle” from Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman (1881) for the peacock’s strut; R.M. Stults’ “Birds and the Brook” (1902) for birds in the tree; Joseph M. Daly’s “The Chicken Reel” (1910) for the hen and chicks; John S. Zamecnik’s “Furioso” (1919) for the battle music; and Gustav Lange’s “Flower Song” (Blumenlied,” 1890) for the hen in tears.
The Ugly Duckling 1931
35MM, BLACK & WHITE, MONO, 7 MINS, USA, NO DIALOGUE / DIRECTOR: WILFRED JACKSON / ANIMATION: FRENCHY DE TRÉMAUDAN, LES CLARK, DICK LUNDY, FRANK TIPPER, RUDY ZAMORA, CLYDE GERONIMI, ALBERT HUNTER, JOHNNY CANNON, CHUCK COUCH, DAVE HAND / MUSIC: BERT LEWIS
A hen's brood includes a duckling who is big-billed and scruffy and bellows like an ox. Mother and siblings alike treat him like an unwanted child. When the duckling offers his brothers a worm, they eat it and then ignore him. Other barnyard animals also treat him like an outcast. When he looks at his reflection in a mill pond, he breaks down, cries, and becomes so upset at what he sees that he gives himself the razzberry. A frog spits in his eye. A cyclone strikes, lifting up buildings and playing pranks with the neighbourhood. It scoops up a chicken coop with the Ugly Duckling's siblings, and then drops it in a roiling mill stream. As the mother hen helplessly follows after it, the duckling races to the rescue. The coop sweeps toward a steep waterfall, while the duckling uses debris caught in the flood to save the chicks. Safely reunited, mother hen and chicks take the duckling into the family.
The score includes excerpts form William J. Scanlan’s “Peek-a-Boo” from Friend and Foe (musical show, 1881) for the mother giving birth; S.R. Henry’s “By Heck” from Push and Go (musical show, 1914) for the ducks hunting worms; and Rossini’s William Tell Overture (1829) and Otto Langey’s “Furioso #1: Thunderstorm” (1916) for the storm.
Flowers and Trees 1932
35MM, BLACK & WHITE, MONO, 8 MINS, USA, NO DIALOGUE / DIRECTOR: WILFRED JACKSON / ANIMATION: FRENCHY DE TRÉMAUDAN, LES CLARK, DICK LUNDY, FRANK TIPPER, RUDY ZAMORA, CLYDE GERONIMI, ALBERT HUNTER, JOHNNY CANNON, CHUCK COUCH, DAVE HAND / MUSIC: BERT LEWIS
The woods awaken in spring; a budding romance between boy and girl saplings is threatened by a withered tree stump who wants the girl for himself. Repulsed by the boy in a duel, the stump seeks revenge by setting the forest on fire. Flames pursue the flowers and trees, and ultimately destroy the stump himself. Birds douse the blaze by punching holes in nearby rain clouds, the forest recovers and the young lovers wed.
The score includes excerpts from Anton Rubinstein's "Kamenoi-Ostrow" (1850s) for the main title; Mendelssohn's Overture to Ruy Blas (1839) for the awakening forest; Alfred Margis' "Valse bleue" (1897) as the harp plays for flowers and birds; Chopin's "Funeral March" (1839) for the lily and stump; Schubert's "The Erl King" ("Erlkönig", 1815) for the tree fight; Rossini's William Tell Overture (1829) for the stump on fire; "The Campbells Are Coming" (trad.) as flames chase the centipede; Beethoven's Symphony no. 6 ("Pastorale", 1808) as the forest recovers; and Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" (1826) for the finale.
This is the first three-strip Technicolor cartoon, the first Silly Symphony to depict an actual death, the first to use an all-classical score, and Disney's first Academy Award winner.
Music Land 1935
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 9 MINS, USA, NO DIALOGUE / DIRECTOR: WILFRED JACKSON / ANIMATION: GRIM NATWICK, ARCHIE ROBIN, CLYDE GERONIMI, DICK LUNDY, FRENCHY DE TRÉMAUDAN, LES CLARK, LEONARD SEBRING, WOOLIE REITHERMAN, DICK HUEMER, LOUISE SCHMITT, CY YOUNG CREW (GEORGE ROWLEY, KEN O'CONNOR, AL EUGSTER, DAN MACMANUS, FRANK KELLING, JOHN MOREHOUSE, ROBERT JONES, UGO D'ORSI, EDWIN AARDAL, JOHN BOND, GEORGE DRAKE, FRANK THOMAS, JIM TYLER) / MUSIC: LEIGH HARLINE
Separated by the Sea of Discord, two hostile islands, the Land of Symphony and the Isle of Jazz, are ruled by a feuding King and Queen. Unbeknownst to their parents, however, the Prince of Jazz (a little saxophone) has fallen in love with the Princess of Symphony (a young violin). To see his sweetheart, the Prince steals across to the Land of Symphony, where he is captured and imprisoned inside a giant metronome. This occasions a musical war between the two kingdoms, the Jazz forces blasting their enemy with a powerful brass section, while the Symphony forces retaliate with a thunderous rendition of "Ride of the Valkyries" blown from cannon-like organ pipes. When the two monarchs see that their children are in danger, they call off the hostilities. A double wedding follows: parents and children marry and the two lands are united by a Bridge of Harmony.
The score includes excerpts from Beethoven's Eroica Symphony (1804) for the main title and "Minuet in G" for the introduction to the Land of Symphony; Fran<;ois Gossec's "Gavotte" (1789) for the Princess waving to the Prince; William Scanlan's "Peek-a-boo" from Friend and Foe (musical show, 1881) for the Prince and Princess playing by the tree; Guy Massey's "The Prisoner's Song" (1924) for the Prince in the dungeon; "Assembly Bugle Call" for the King's call to arms; Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" from Die Walkure (1856) for the Queen's barrage; and Wagner's "Wedding March" from Lohengrin (1848) for the finale. Harline contributed two original compositions: "The Saxes Have It" for the introductory scenes of the Isle of Jazz, and "Jazz Fireworks" for the battle scenes.
"The Prisoner's Song," also known as "If I Had the Wings of an Angel," had been popular since the 1920s. Here the tune was used as a musical joke; audiences were expected to recognize the title when they heard the melody.
The Old Mill 1937
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 9 MINS, USA, NO DIALOGUE / DIRECTOR: WILFRED JACKSON, GRAHAM HEID / ANIMATION: CY YOUNG, UGO D'ORSI, ART PALMER, JOSH MEADOR, CORNETT WOOD, RALPH SOMERVILLE, BOB MARTSCH, GEORGE ROWLEY / MUSIC: LEIGH HARLINE
Night falls on the old mill pond. Cows wend their way home from pasture; mice and birds inside the mill settle down for the night; an owl stirs; bats awaken, stretch and fly away. Frogs in the pond tune up for their night song, crickets soon join them, then winds moan through the reeds. A storm breaks and winds batter the mill, snapping the rope that holds the grinding wheel. The wheel spins out of control, threatening a birds' nest in the gears of the machinery. The storm builds, the sails tUrn faster, and creatures huddle in the rafters. The storm climaxes with a lightning bolt that strikes the mill and stops the machinery. Next morning the mill is battered, dripping, but still standing. The creatures return to their routines, and a peaceful morning settles on the mill.
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Cartoon Production in 1937.
The studio's new multiplane camera was introduced in The Old Mill, making it the most expensive Silly Symphony up to that date, but less expensive than any subsequent Disney/RKO short.
The Ugly Duckling 1939
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 9 MINS, USA, NO DIALOGUE / DIRECTOR: JACK CUTTING, HAM LUSKE / ANIMATION: ERIC LARSON, STAN QUACKENBUSH, RILEY THOMPSON, ARCHIE ROBIN, MILT KAHL, PAUL SATTERFIELD / MUSIC: ALBERT HAY MALOTTE
A mother duck's brood includes one duckling who is large, awkward and ungainly, not at all like his siblings. The Ugly Duckling tries eagerly to fit in with his family, but soon even the mother rejects him. Driven away, he tries to befriend a family of birds, then a wooden decoy. Finally convinced that there is no place for him, the Ugly Duckling begins to cry - until his honking sounds are answered by others, and he finds himself welcomed by his own kind: a family of swans.
Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen’s "The Ugly Duckling" (1845, translated into English, 1846).
Silly Symphonies: The Midnight Hour All ages 76mins
Sun 30 Mar 1.30pm / Cinema A
Babes in the Woods 1932
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 8 MINS, USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: BURT GILLETT / ANIMATION: JACK KING, FRENCHY DE TRÉMAUDEN, LES CLARK, DICK LUNDY, JOHNNY CANNON, EDDIE DONNELLY, HARDIE GRAMATKY, NORM FERGUSON, BEN SHARPSTEEN CREW (BILL MASON, HAM LUSKE, ED LOVE, BILL ROBERTS, JOE D’IGALO, ART BABBITT, LOUIE SCHMITT, FRED SPENCER), TOM PALMER / MUSIC: BERT LEWIS
Two children, dressed in Dutch costume and frightened by the sights and sounds of the forest, take refuge in a village populated by bearded, dancing dwarfs. The dwarfs treat the children as guests of honour, but a witch interrupts the festivities and persuades the children to fly away with her on her broom. She traps them inside her candy cottage, changing the boy into a black spider. The dwarfs ride to the rescue on gooseback, battling the witch and freeing the children. The girl finds an antidote to the witch's brew and uses it to disenthrall her brother and the other youngsters, who have been kept as insects and reptiles. The witch falls into a kettle of her own potion and petrifies.
Adapted from "The Children in the Wood," a ballad first published 1595, with interpolations from the Grimm Brothers fairy tale "Hansel and Gretel," first published 1812.
Babes in the Woods is Disney's first serious adaptation of a fairy tale. The story, immensely popular during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in England and in the United States, became a frequent pantomime subject in the nineteenth century, and was adapted for many picture books.
The score includes Nelson F. Kneass' "Oh, Don't You Remember" (a.k.a. "Ben Bolt") (1848) with original lyrics, for the main title and opening scene; Parlow's "The Anvil Polka" (adapted from the "Anvil Chorus" in Verdi's Il Trovatore, 1853) for the dwarfs at work; and Joseph E. Winner's "Little Brown Jug" (1869) performed by the dwarfs on jugs.
In 1917 the Fox Film Corporation produced its film version The Babes in the Woods, adding the wicked witch and candy house from "Hansel and Gretel," with Robin Hood and his Merry Men rescuing the children to effect a happy ending.
Both music and lyric for the ballad sung at Witch Rock are adapted from the 1840s minstrel song "Ben Bolt," which in turn was taken from an old German melody. "Ben Bolt" was revived at the turn of the century as the song Svengali uses to mesmerize Trilby in George du Maurier's best-selling novel (1894). Continuous revivals of the play version of Trilby, with the heroine's aborted performance of "Ben Bolt" as the climax, helped keep the song popular in the twentieth century. For her wicked spell, Disney's witch adapts the Halliwell nursery rhyme "What Are Little Boys Made Of?" (1842).
Lullaby Land 1933
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 7 MINS, USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: WILFRED JACKSON / ANIMATION: HAM LUSKE, ART BABBITT, BEN SHARPSTEEN CREW (LEONARD SEBRING, LOUIE SCHMITT, GEORGE DRAKE, ED LOVE, BOB KUWAHARA, ROY WILLIAMS, MARVIN WOODWARD) DICK HUEMER / MUSIC: FRANK CHURCHILL, LEIGH HARLINE
A baby with his calico toy dog drops into a dream world with a quilted landscape sprouting inanimate household objects. In the Land of Nowhere, baby watches a parade of castor oil bottles, high chairs, and pacifiers. He enters a Forbidden Garden filled with plants and trees made of pruning shears, curling irons, scissors, squirting fountain pens, knives, razors, and other sharp objects. "Baby musm't touch," warn timepieces hanging on a tree. But he gets burned by matches and escapes from three Bogey Men by hiding behind a rattle tree. The Sandman steps out and sings him safely back to sleep.
Characters and settings freely adapted from Eugene Field poems collected in Love Songs of Childhood (1894).
Songs: "Lullaby Land of Nowhere" (Frank Churchill, lyrics Larry Morey); "In the Land of Mustn't Touch" (Leigh Harline, Morey); "Dance of the Bogey Men" (Harline, Morey).
The score includes excerpts from "Rock-a-bye Baby" (from Mother Goose Melodies for Children, 1765); William Scanlan's "Peek-a-boo" from Friend and Foe (musical show, 1881); and Brahms' Lullaby (1868).
The China Shop 1934
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 8 MINS, USA, NO DIALOGUE / DIRECTOR: WILFRED JACKSON / ANIMATION: ART BABBITT, BEN SHARPSTEEN CREW (CY YOUNG, ROY WILLIAMS, JACK KINNEY) LOUIE SCHMITT, LEONARD SEBRING, DICK LUNDY, FRENCHY DE TRÉMAUDEN, DICK HUEMER, ARCHIE ROBIN / MUSIC: LEIGH HARLINE
The kindly keeper of a china shop closes for the night. As soon as he leaves, the china figures come to life and begin to dance. An 18th-century couple waltz until interrupted by Billygoatlegs, a villainous satyr who covets the lady. He and the hero fight, hurling plates at each other until the satyr is himself smashed to bits. The shopkeeper, returning in the morning, he is only momentarily dismayed by the wreckage. He merely replaces the "Fine China" sign with a new one reading "Rare Antiques" - and doubles the prices.
Based on "The Shepherdess and the Chimney-Sweep" (1845) by Hans Christian Andersen.
The score includes “Ach du lieber Augustin” (1815) for the mug dance.
Broken Toys 1935
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 9 MINS, USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: BEN SHARPSTEEN / ANIMATION: JOHN MCMANUS, DICK HUEMER, ART BABBITT, GEORGE DRAKE, JIM ALGAR, GRIM NATWICK, BILL TYTLA, JOHNNY CANNON, LEONARD SEBRING, BOB WICKERSHAM, WOLLIE REITHERMAN, BERNY WOLF, CY YOUNG, MARVIN WOODWARD / MUSIC: ALBERT HAY MALOTTE
A discarded sailor doll, cast into a junk pile, finds that he is not alone. A gallery of broken and unwanted toys, some strongly resembling movie stars, have been tossed there before him. The sailor rallies them all with his song "We're Gonna Get Out of the Dumps," whereupon they begin fixing themselves up, repairing their own broken parts. A little blind girl laments that with a pair of eyes she would be as good as new, so the sailor performs the operation, sewing bright blue buttons onto her face. Their rejuvenation complete, the cast of dolls and other toys marches up out of the dump and off to an orphanage where they will be appreciated.
The plot resembles that of A Great Big Bunch of You (Warner Bros., 1933), a Merrie Melodie directed by Rudolf Ising.
Song: “We’re Gonna Get Out of the Dumps” (Malotte)
The score includes excerpts from “The Sailor’s Hornpipe” (1796), “Reveille,” “The Girl I Left Behind Me” (traditional, published 1808), and Franz Gruber’s “Silent Night, Holy Night” (1818).
Woodland Café 1937
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 8 MINS, USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: WILFRED JACKSON / ANIMATION: CY YOUNG, JOHNNY CANNON, IZZY KLEIN, BOB STOKES, DICK LUNDY, PAUL ALLEN, CHARLES BYRNE, JACK HANNAH, WARD KIMBALL / MUSIC: LEIGH HARLINE
Dance-crazy bugs pour into the Woodland Cafe, a moderne nightclub with a hot jazz band and flickering firefly atmosphere. Assorted patrons (among them a crotchety bee coupled with a hot red ant) arrive and give the waiters their orders. The lights dim for the floor show: a tough spider tosses a world-weary fly in an acrobatic Apache dance. The lights come up and couples move onto the dance floor as a Cab Calloway grasshopper in a zoot suit leads the band in a hot rendition of "Truckin'." The dancers swing as the band builds to a rousing climax.
The score includes Erday L. Bowman’s “Twelfth Street Rag” (1914); “L’amour d’Apache” (the Apache Dance from Offenbach’s ballet Le Papillon, 1861); and Ted Koehler and Rube bloom’s “Truckin’” (1935).
The Night Before Christmas 1933
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 9 MINS, USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: WILFRED JACKSON / ANIMATION: BEN SHARPSTEEN CREW (UGO D’ORSI, ED SMITH, LEONARD SEBRING, JOE D’IGALO, TOM MCKIMSON, ARCHIE ROBIN, ROY WILLIAMS) LOUIE SCHMITT, HAM LUSKE, BOB WICKERSHAM, ED LOVE, DICK HUEMER, LES CLARK, GEORGE DRAKE, HARDIE GRAMATKY, UGO D’IGALO / MUSIC: LEIGH HARLINE
It is Christmas Eve, and in one particular house, eight small children sleep in a large bed dreaming of Santa Claus. Soon he arrives, lands his sleigh on the roof and slides down the chimney. From his bag he produces a Christmas tree, and a toy trumpet on which he blows a fanfare. At this signal the toys begin to march out of the bag, trimming the tree and then arranging themselves beneath it. Meanwhile Santa fills the stockings that hang in a row along the mantel. When all the work is finished, the toy band breaks into a chorus of "Jingle Bells," Santa joining in on a toy piano. This awakens the children, who race down the stairs, so Santa quickly leaves the same way he came. The children are overjoyed to see their gifts, but pause to watch Santa and his reindeer flyaway through the nighttime sky.
Adapted from Henry Livingston's poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas," a.k.a. "The Night Before Christmas" (1807-1808).
Song: "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" (Harline, lyrics adapted from Henry Livingston's poem, 1807-1808, previously attributed to Clement Moore).
The score includes excerpts from Franz Gruber's "Silent Night" (1818) and James Pierpont's "Jingle Bells" (1857).
Santa’s Workshop 1932
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 7 MINS, USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: WILFRED JACKSON / ANIMATION: BEN SHARPSTEEN CREW (MARVIN WOODWARD, JOE D’IGALO, HAM LUSKE, DICK WILLIAMS, CHUCK COUCH, ED LOVE, JACK CUTTING, GEORGE DRAKE, ART BABBITT, HARRY REEVES, LOUIE SCHMITT, PAUL FENNELL, FRED MOORE, JACK KINNEY, NICK GEORGE, LES CLARK, NORM FERGUSON, TOM PALMER, JACK KING, CLYDE GERONIMI, EDDIE DONNELLY / MUSIC: FRANK CHURCHILL
Santa and his gnomes sing and prepare for their journey on Christmas Eve. While Santa reads his mail, helpers polish up the sleigh and groom the reindeer. Others operate quaint machinery in Santa’s toy factory, whistling while they work, assembling and painting the toys on an assembly line. Santa works on mamma dolls, and a cluster of other toys march themselves into Santa’s bag. Packed and ready to go, Santa flies off on his sleigh.
The score includes excerpts from Siegfried Translateur’s “Hochzeitszug in Liliput” (“Wedding March in Midget-Land,” early twentieth century) for the gnomes making toys; and Schubert’s “March Militaire” from Moments musicaux (1827) for the toy march.
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 9 MINS, USA, NO DIALOGUE / DIRECTOR: RUDOLF ISING / ANIMATION: LESS BLAIR, TOM MCKINNON, CARL URBANO, JAMES PABIAN, PETE BURNESS, MIKE LAH, MANUEL MORENO, MELVIN SCHWARTZMAN, ROLLIN HAMILTON, FRANCIS SMITH / MUSIC: SCOTT BRADLEY
Bubbles and foam on the surface of ocean waves form into "merbabies," tiny mermaids who splash and play in the surf. They hear a fanfare and dive underwater to watch a circus parade featuring fish and other marine creatures. The parade leads into an underwater grotto where the main circus acts appear: clowns, a performing snail, trained animals and a balancing act. The circus gives way to a ballet performance, the merbabies dancing in formations with bubbles and with each other. But a sneezing whale breaks up the presentation, and the merbabies return to the water's surface, where they dissolve back into foam under a moonlit sky.
Alone among the Silly Symphonies, Merbabies was actually produced outside the Disney studio.
The score includes excerpts from Arthur de Lulli’s “Chopsticks” (1877) for the splash water fight; and from Cécile Chaminade’s “Scarf Dance” (1896) played on horns by a snail.
Midnight in a Toy Shop 1930
35MM, BLACK & WHITE, MONO, 7 MINS, USA, NO DIALOGUE / DIRECTOR: WILFRED JACKSON / ANIMATION: WILFRED JACKSON, DAVE HAND, JOHNNY CANNON, LES CLARK, TOM PALMER, DICK LUNDY, BEN SHARPSTEEN CREW, JACK KING, NORM FERGUSON / MUSIC: BERT LEWIS
A spider caught in a snowstorm sneaks into a toy shop, dancing and stumbling into various toys that frighten him. A wind-up car runs rings around him, a toy dog barks, and a jack-in-the-box pops up and lunges. Caught in the dark, the spider lights a candle, dances the "Pizzicato Polka" on a piano, and brings two mamma dolls to life. They dance the same melody with a black Topsy doll. A golliwog marionette on a phonograph does the "Cocoanut Dance" with jacks-in-the-box and the entire toy shop goes dance crazy. The spider, having a high time, cavorts and tips over his candle, setting off firecrackers that chase him out of the store.
The score includes excerpts from Edward MacDowell’s “Scotch Poem” (“Fern an schottischer Felsenküste”), one of the Sechs Gedichte nach H.Heine (1887) under the main title; Léo Delibes’ “Pizzicato Polka” (probably from Sylvia, 1876) for the spider on the piano; Andrew Herrmann’s “Cocoanut Dance” (1899) for the marionette dance; and Adabert Keler-Bela’s “Lustspiel-Ouvertüre” (1860s) for the fireworks.
Silly Symphonies: Renegades and Fine Romance All ages 71mins
Sun 6 Apr 1.30pm / Cinema A
Cock o’ the Walk 1935
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 8 MINS, USA, NO DIALOGUE / DIRECTOR: BEN SHARPSTEEN / ANIMATION: JIM TYER, LEONARD SEBRING, BILL TYTLA, ERIC LARSON, JOHN MCMANUS, CLYDE GERONIMI, WOOLIE REITHERMAN, HARDIE GRAMATKY / MUSIC: FRANK CHURCHILL, ALBERT HAY MALOTTE
The "cock o' the walk," a champion prize-fighting rooster, returns to a hero's welcome in the barnyard. A parade in his honour draws dozens of adoring hens, among them a young pullet who abandons her bumpkin admirer at first glimpse of the new hero. She and the champ dance the Carioca, triggering an elaborate production number with all the other barnyard fowl joining in. Finally the enraged boyfriend challenges the champ in the ring. He is at the point of losing both the fight and his disinterested girlfriend, when the champ's bag is knocked open and discloses his family portrait: himself, his wife and a large brood of youngsters! In a rage, the girl returns to her former boyfriend, and gives him a kiss that inspires him to return to the ring and thrash the two-timer.
Adapted from Jean de la Fontaine’s "The Two Cocks" (1678).
The score includes Vincent Youmans’ “The Carioca” from Flying Down to Rio (RKO, 1933). All music preceding the “Carioca” sequence was written by Frank Churchill; all the music following that sequence was by Albert Hay Malotte. This was his first Silly Symphony.
The Country Cousin 1936
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 9 MINS, USA, NO DIALOGUE / DIRECTOR: DAVE HAND, WILFRED JACKSON / ANIMATION: MILT SCHAFFER, JOHNNY CANNON, MARVIN WOODWARD, LES CLARK, ART BABBITT, JACK HANNAH, PAUL ALLEN, CY YOUNG / MUSIC: LEIGH HARLINE
Country mouse Abner visits his cousin Monty in the big city. Eager to sample the glamorous life, he tries to imitate his cousin's manners. But while Monty is suave and sophisticated, Abner is uncouth, sloppy and, worst of all, unable to keep quiet. The two mice sample the food and drink on the dinner table, but Abner falls head first into a champagne glass. Roaring drunk, he boldly challenges the family cat to a fight. One look at the cat's teeth instantly sobers him, and he flees to the street where his life is further threatened by pedestrians and by motor traffic. Terrified, Abner beats a hasty retreat back to the country.
Adapted from Aesop's fable "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse.”
Other cartoon producers were directly influenced by The Country Cousin. According to Bob Clampett (1970), Abner Mouse inspired his design of the Warner Bros. character Sniffles. Frank Tashlin went further, claiming that "the mouse that everybody's used" (he cited Jerry in MGM's "Tom and Jerry" series) was based on Abner.
Who Killed Cock Robin 1935
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 9 MINS, USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: DAVE HAND / ANIMATION: HAM LUSKE, BOB WICKERSHAM, ERIC LARSON, HARDIE GRAMATKY, CLYDE GERONIMI, NORM FERGUSON, BILL ROBERTS, DICK LUNDY / VOICES: MARTHA WENTWORTH, BILLY BLETCHER, LEO CLERY, PURV PULLEN / MUSIC: FRANK CHURCHILL
Crooner Cock Robin serenades Jenny Wren, an avian Mae West, until an unknown assailant's arrow knocks him off his perch. A murder investigation begins, and the police round up their suspects: the Black Bird, tough Legs Sparrow, and the Cuckoo. All three are placed on trial, but the results are inconclusive, especially when Jenny distracts the jury by strutting into the courtroom and singing "Somebody Rubbed Out My Robin." Just as the judge is about to hang all three suspects, Dan Cupid interrupts the proceedings to confess. Robin isn't dead at all, but has merely been struck by one of Cupid's arrows.
From "The Death and Burial of Cock Robin," a British nursery rhyme first published in Tommy Thumbs Pretty Song Book (London, 1744).
Songs: "Who Killed Cock Robin?," "Will You Love Me Tonight?," "Somebody Rubbed Out My Robin" (Music: Frank Churchill, Lyrics: Larry Morey).
The score includes a brief section of "A-Hunting We Will Go" (traditional, possibly Procida Bucalossi, ca. 1782) with new lyrics by Larry Morey.
A clip from the film, printed in black and white, was later used in Alfred Hitchcock's Sabotage (Gaumont-British, 1936).
The Fox Hunt 1931
35MM, BLACK & WHITE, MONO, 6 MINS, USA, NO DIALOGUE / DIRECTOR: WILFRED JACKSON / ANIMATION: DAVE HAND, BEN SHARPSTEEN CREW (MARVIN WOODWARD, DICK WILLIAMS, CHARLES HUTCHINSON, CECIL SURREY, JACK CUTTING, JOE D’IGALO, HARRY REEVES, FRANK TIPPER, HARDIE GRAMATKY, CHUCK COUCH) ALBERT HURTER, LES CLARK, JOHNNY CANNON, DICK LUNDY, RUDY ZAMORA, FRENCHY DE TRÉMAUDEN, JACK KING / VOICES: RICHARD EDWARDS / MUSIC: FRANK CHURCHILL
Early morning. Birds chirp through the forest; a steeple bell chimes; a rooster crows; two horns announce hunters riding their horses. A silhouetted line of horsemen cross the horizon, making their way to a blacksmith’s shop where their horses are shod, and the riders are served tea and take their time for some close four-part harmony. The bugler’s call brings them all to business and the comic pursuit of the fox begins. The fox hides in a fallen log, and when a hunter reaches in to grab him, he pulls out a skunk. As the riders beat a hasty retreat, the fox pops out to shake the skunk’s hand.
The score is almost entirely an adaptation of George R. Voelker’s “Hunt in the Black Forest” (1894), which was great hit of the 1890s, designed for band concerts.
It was the first Silly Symphony based around a single published musical composition.
Ferdinand the Bull 1938
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 8 MINS, USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: DICK RICKARD / ANIMATION: BERNARD GARBUTT, MILT KAHL, HAM LUSKE, BOB STOKES, JOHN BRADBURY, STAN QUACKENBUSH, JACK CAMPBELL, WARD KIMBALL, DON LUSK / VOICES: DON WILSON, WILT KAHL / MUSIC: ALBERT HAY MARLOTTE
Ferdinand, a baby bull in Spain, is different from the other calves; while they run and butt their heads together, he prefers to sit quietly in the shade of a cork tree, smelling the flowers. Time passes, peace-loving Ferdinand grows up, and men from the city come to recruit bulls for the bullfight. When Ferdinand sits on a bumblebee and goes on a rampage, the men choose him as the fiercest bull and take him away. In the bullring, however, Ferdinand's true nature is revealed when he refuses to fight infuriating the matador. Eventually Ferdinand is returned to his pasture and goes back to "smelling the flowers."
Adapted from Munro Leaf’s The Story of Ferdinand (New York: Viking, 1936, illustrated by Robert Lawson).
Viking published Leaf's book in the fall of 1936, and within a year it had become a bestseller, controversial because of its pacifist theme. Disney bought the film rights in October 1937, just after the book's 11th printing, and released the film in November 1938 to coincide with National Book Week, when Leaf's book received special honours. Shortly afterward Ferdinand nudged Gone with the Wind from the top of the best-seller lists.
In addition to the Ferdinand score, Albert Hay Malotte wrote the song "Ferdinand the Bull," with lyrics by Larry Morey, which was not heard in the film but was used to promote it. It became a minor hit and was heard on radio and records, a good six months before the film's release.
Ferdinand the Bull began production as a Silly Symphony, but by the time of release it was reclassified as a "Special."
Moth and the Flame 1938
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 8 MINS, USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: DAVE HAND, BURT GILLETT, DICK HUEMER / ANIMATION: WIN HOSKINS, ARCHIE ROBIN, IZZY KLEIN, MILT SCHAFFER, ED LOVE, DON WILLIAMS
To the moths outside the window, the goods inside a theatrical costume shop appear a sumptuous banquet. The moths, among them a romantically inclined boy and girl, find their way inside and begin their feast. The girl is miffed when she sees that the boy is more interested in food than in her. But she soon attracts a more ardent admirer: the flame of a nearby candle, which assumes a vaguely human form and escapes its candle to pursue her. The boy tries to rescue the girl, but the flame is relentless and seemingly indestructible, soon threatening not only the girl but everything in the shop. The army of moths is alerted and comes to the rescue, carrying water in funnels, bagpipes and bellows. The flame is extinguished and the boy and girl reunited.
The Spider and the Fly 1931
35MM, BLACK & WHITE, MONO, 7 MINS, USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: WILFRED JACKSON / ANIMATION: BEN SHARPSTEEN CREW (HARRY REEVES, BILL MASON, GEORGE GRANDPRE, JACK CUTTING, DICK WILLIAMS, CHARLES HUTCHINSON, TAT, FRANK TIPPER, CHARLES BYRNE, CHUCK COUCH, MARVIN WOODWARD, JOE D'IGALO, HARDIE GRAMATKY), LES CLARK, RUDY ZAMORA, DICK LUNDY, JOHNNY CANNON, ALBERT HURTER / MUSIC: FRANK CHURCHILL OR BERT LEWIS
Amidst a chorus of flies cavorting inside a farmhouse kitchen, two sweethearts buzz and dance across the back yard. A spider lurking in a junk barrel sees them and, strumming a cobweb harp, lures the spinning girl fly into his web. The boy escapes to rally his troops with a harmonica call. Armies of flies arm themselves for attack. Lancers on horseflies attack with needles, bombers drop flour bags packed with pepper, gunners shoot pins from macaroni cannons, and artillery teams fire bottle caps from beer bottles. Weapons grow more elaborate as the attack develops. Houseflies squirt oil from cans nestled in shoes that move as if they were tanks, squadrons of dragonflies assault the spider with a Flit gun, gooey flypaper, and flaming matches. Rescued from a web set on fire, the girl is reunited with her boyfriend on the ring of a window shade string-pull.
This is the first remake of Birds of a Feather (1931), followed by Bugs in Love (1932). The motif of the folk army attacking a Goliath is also repeated two other subsequent Silly Symphonies. Harman-Ising's You're Too Careless with Your Kisses (Warner Bros., 1933) also recycles the formula of the girl fly menaced by the spider and saved by squadrons of rescuers, with a harmonica used as a stable for horseflies.
The score includes excerpts from Theo Bendix's "Busy Bee" (1899) and Franz Schubert's "The Erl-King" ("Erlkonig", 1815); and a bar from Franz von Suppe's Light Cavalry Overture (1866).
Bugs in Love 1932
35MM, BLACK & WHITE, MONO, 7 MINS, USA, NO DIALOGUE / DIRECTOR: BURT GILLETT / ANIMATION: DAVID HAND CREW (JOE D'IGALO, CHARLES HUTCHINSON, ED LOVE, BILL ROBERTS, FRED MOORE, FRANK TAPPER, HARDIE GRAMATKY), LES CLARK, FRENCHY DE TRÉMAUDAN, JACK KING, TOM PALMER, NORM FERGUSON CREW (CHARLES HUTCHINSON, EDDIE DONNELLY) / MUSIC: BERT LEWIS
In a town dump called Bug Town the bugs enjoy a holiday, having transformed discarded bric-a-brac to park rides. Couples ride a worn-out bicycle tire rigged up as a Ferris wheel, they slide around a warped turntable used as a merry-go-round, swing on corset straps, and ice skate on a hand mirror.
A ladybug prepares for a date with her beetle boyfriend. Together, they declare their love for each other, but catch the eye of a wandering crow. The crow traps the boy in a bottle, chases the ladybug around her living room, and then runs off with her in his beak. A wandering bug riding a centipede sounds the alarm (literally: he sets off an alarm clock) and the bugs rally. Wielding needles, forks, fish hooks and paring knives, the ground troops charge. A roller skate carries needle carriers; artillery teams squirt ink from a fountain pen and splatter toothpaste from a tube. The crow is imprisoned in a shoe while the sweethearts are reunited.
The score includes excerpts from M.J. Bellak's "Carnival of Venice" (1854) and Waldteufel's "The Skater's Waltz" (1882) for park music; Otto Nicolai's Overture from Merry Wives of Windsor (1884) for the bugs' love song; "The House Is Haunted" as the crow's vamp; Tchaikovsky's "Chant sans paroles" (1868) for the crow pursuing the lovers; and Friedrich von Flotow's Stradella (1844) for the lovers' final reconciliation.
Grasshopper and the Ants 1933
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 8 MINS, USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: WILFRED JACKSON / ANIMATION: DICK HUEMER, BEN SHARPSTEEN CREW (TOM MCKIMSON, CY YOUNG, ED SMITH), FRENCHY DE TRÉMAUDAN, LEONARD SEBRING, DICK LUNDY, BILL ROBERTS, ART BABBITT, HAM LUSKE, LES CLARK / MUSIC: LEIGH HARLINE
While the industrious ants work through the summer, gathering food for the coming winter, a vagabond Grasshopper dances, plays his fiddle and sings "The World Owes Me a Living." He easily persuades a young ant to join in, but when he extends his invitation to the Queen herself, she sternly refuses and the young ant quickly returns to his labours. When winter comes the ants are warm and well fed inside their hollow tree, while outside the Grasshopper freezes and starves - until the ants take pity on him and bring him inside. The Queen sternly announces that only those who work may stay, but allows the chastened Grasshopper to remain and provide music for the colony.
Song: “The World Owes Me a Lining” (Harline, lyrics Larry Morey).
The score includes an excerpt from "Coronation March" from Meyerbeer's opera Le Prophete (1849) for the Queen's procession.
This film introduced the song "The World Owes Me a Living," which was later used instrumentally to underscore another grasshopper's appearance in Mickey's Garden (1935) and still later became an unofficial musical theme for Goofy.
Silly Symphonies: The Three Little Pigs All Ages 38mins
Sun 13 Apr 1.30pm / Cinema A
Three Little Pigs 1933
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 9 MINS, USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: BURT GILLETT / ANIMATION: FRED MOORE, DICK LUNDY, NORM FERGUSON, ART BABBITT, JACK KING / VOICES: MARY MODER, DOROTHY COMPTON, PINTO COLVIG, BILLY BLETCHER / MUSIC: FRANK CHURCHILL
Two playful pigs lazily build their houses of straw and sticks, then spend their time dancing and singing, against the advice of the industrious third pig who builds his house of bricks. When the Big Bad Wolf comes looking for a meal, he easily blows down the straw and stick houses, but the two playful pigs escape and take refuge in their brother's brick house. Unable to blow down the bricks, the wolf tries to fool the pigs with disguises, but these fail too. Finally the wolf tries to enter the house by the chimney, lands in a pot of boiling water and vanishes yelping into the distance. The three pigs are safe.
The song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” was published by Irving Berlin, Inc.; the composer credit read “by Frank E. Churchill/Additional lyric by Ann Ronell.” The Ronell lyrics were used in the sheet music and in a number of popular recordings, but were not heard in the film itself.
“Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” became the studio’s first hit song, the first hit song to come from any cartoon.
This was an unusually popular film, easily the most successful of the Silly Symphonies.
The Big Bad Wolf 1934
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 9 MINS, USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: BURT GILLETT / ANIMATION: LES CLARK, DICK LUNDY, HAM LUSKY, NORM FERGUSON, CLYDE GERONIMI, BILL ROBERTS, FRED MOORE / VOICES: MARY MODER, DOROTHY COMPTON, PINTO COLVIG, BILLY BLETCHER / MUSIC: FRANK CHURCHILL
Little Red Riding Hood meets the Three Little Pigs while carrying a basket of goodies to her grandmother's house. Against the Practical Pig's advice, the two playful pigs recommend the shortcut through the woods, and volunteer to accompany her. But when the Big Bad Wolf appears the pigs run, abandoning Riding Hood to her fate. The Wolf pursues her to Grandma's house, and soon has both Riding Hood and Grandma trapped inside a wardrobe. The Practical Pig dispatches the Wolf by shoveling hot coals and unpopped popcorn into his pants.
Adapted from Charles Perrault's version of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1697), combined with characters from Three Little Pigs (1933).
Song: “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf.” (Churchill). A new song “The Big Bad Wolf is Back Again” was written by Churchill and Larry Morey, which was used to publicise the film, was not heard in the film itself.
This was the first sequel to Three Little Pigs. Two other Pig sequels followed: Three Little Wolves (1936) and The Practical Pig (1939).
Three Little Wolves 1936
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 9 MINS, USA, ENGLISH. DIRECTOR: DAVE HAND / ANIMATION: NORM FERGUSON, FRED MOORE, ERIC LARSON, BILL ROBERTS, / VOICES: ALICE ARDELL, BILLY BLETCHER, PINTO COLVIG, LEONE LEDOUX / MUSIC: FRANK CHURCHILL
While the Big Bad Wolf instructs his three unruly youngsters in the fine points of dining on pigs, the Practical Pig labours at finishing his latest contraption, a Wolf Pacifier. The other two pigs dance and play practical jokes but soon find themselves trapped in the Wolf's cave, lured there by the Wolf disguised as Little Bo Peep. They are about to become ingredients in a stew, but the Practical Pig rescues them, and the Wolf is himself trapped in the Pacifier, an elaborate mechanism that subjects its victim to a series of tortures and humiliations. Finally the Pacifier tars and feathers the Wolf and stuffs him into a cannon, which blasts him over the horizon.
Adapted from Aesop’s Fable, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”
Songs: “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” (Churchill) “Ist das nicht ein Schnitzel Baum?” (traditional German polka with new specialty lyrics, retitled “Schweine Stew”).
The Practical Pig 1939
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 9 MINS, USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: DICK RICKARD / ANIMATION: NORM FERGUSON, FRED MOORE, ERIC LARSON, BILL ROBERTS, / VOICES: ALICE ARDELL, BILLY BLETCHER, PINTO COLVIG, LEONE LEDOUX / MUSIC: FRANK CHURCHILL
While the Practical Pig works at his latest invention, a lie detector, his brothers disregard his advice and go swimming in the pond. There they are taken in by the Wolf in his latest disguise: a mermaid, complete with portable island, who strums a lyre and sings "Frankie and Johnny." The Wolf captures them and takes them home to the abandoned Old Mill, where the little wolves prepare to eat them as pork pies. Meanwhile the Wolf disguises himself as a messenger boy, hoping to trap the Practical Pig. But the Practical Pig sees through the ruse and the Wolf lands in the lie detector: a device that punishes each of his untruths by spanking him and/or scrubbing his mouth with soap. The two wayward pigs escape the Wolf's lair, but soon all three pigs fall victim to the lie detector.
This was the third sequel to Three Little Pigs. The Practical Pig was copyrighted and advertised as a Silly Symphony, but the opening titles identified it as "A Walt Disney 'Three Little Pigs'," suggesting that it was a "special" or part of a new series.
The score includes Churchill’s “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” and “Frankie and Johnny (traditional, 1870-75).
Silly Symphonies: Hollywood Nursery Rhymes All ages 37mins
Sun 13 Apr 1.30pm / Cinema A
The Pied Piper 1933
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 8 MINS, USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: WILFRED JACKSON / ANIMATION: BEN SHARPSTEEN CREW (JOE D'IGALO, ARCHIE ROBIN, MARVIN WOODWARD, UGO D'ORSI, HARDIE GRAMATKY, CY YOUNG, DICK WILLIAMS, PAUL ALLEN, ED LOVE), CLYDE GERONIMI, ART BABBITT, HAM LUSKY, FRENCHY DE TRÉMAUDAN, DICK HUEMER / MUSIC: LEIGH HARLINE
The town of Hamelin is overrun with rats, who boldly swarm through the streets, looting shops and stealing food. The mayor offers a bag of gold to anyone who will rid the town of them. An itinerant piper accepts his offer and, with a lilting melody, charms the rats into following him into the countryside, then conjures up a giant cheese into which they disappear. But when the piper returns for his gold, the townspeople refuse to pay. He retaliates by playing the same melody, this time charming away the town's children and leading them to a "Toyland" hidden inside a mountain.
Adapted from Robert Browning's narrative poem "The Pied Piper of Hamelin: A Child's Story" (1842), taken from a German folk tale.
Songs: “In the Town of Hamelin,” and “Rats! Rats! Rats!” (Harline).
The score adapts a few notes of “Toyland” from Victor Herbert’s Babes in Toyland (1903).
Playful Pan 1930
35MM, BLACK & WHITE, MONO, 7 MINS, USA, NO DIALOGUE / DIRECTOR: BURT GILLETT / ANIMATION: TOM PALMER, LES CLARK, JACK KING, WILFRED JACKSON, JOHNNY CANNON, DAVE HAND, BEN SHARPSTEEN, FRENCHY DE TRÉMAUDAN, DICK LUNDY, JACK CUTTING, NORM FERGUSON / MUSIC: BERT LEWIS
Pan pipes for leaping fish, dancing daisies, and bellflowers; then he calls worms out of assorted apples, directing one worm in a shimmy, another in a jazz bounce. Lightning strikes, unleashing mischievous flames who saw down a tree and dance on it. Animals try to put out the fire, but the imp-like flames chase the animals through the woods. A raccoon alerts Pan, who leaps to the rescue. He sounds his pipe; flames sway to his rhythm. Like a Pied Piper, he leads flames to his stream where, lemming-like, they fall to extinction. One little flame needs special coaxing.
The score includes excerpts from Otto Langey’s “Furioso #1: Thunderstorm” (1916); George Tracy’s “La Petite Coryphée” (1890s); and G. Lubomirsky’s “Dance Oritentale” (1912).
Mother Goose Melodies 1931
35MM, BLACK & WHITE, MONO, 8 MINS, USA, ENGLISH. DIRECTOR: BURT GILLETT / ANIMATION: BEN SHARPSTEEN, DAVE HAND, NORM FERGUSON, JACK KING, RUDY ZAMORA, JOHNNY CANNON, LES CLARK, DICK LUNDY, TOM PALMER / VOICE: ALLAN WILSON, WALT DISNEY, MARION DARLINGTON / MUSIC: BERT LEWIS, FRANK CHURCHILL
Old King Cole's heralds and pages lead the king in a grand musical procession to his outdoor throne. With a royal rattle in hand, the king calls for his pipe, his fiddlers three (three blind mice) and his book of Mother Goose rhymes. The old woman and her goose dance out from the book, then introduce their storybook characters. As Mother Goose turns the pages, the book illustrations spring to life: Miss Muffett and her spider, Jack and Jill, Simple Simon, Humpty Dumpty, Jack Horner, a little black sheep, and Bo Peep whose sheep are recovered by Little Boy Blue. The three friends from "Hi Diddle DiddIe" form a jazz combo, the Cow using his bass as a pogo-stick to jump over the moon. The Dog and Cat topple the book over, and all the characters spill out, dancing and leaping. Even the merry King joins in.
Original songs “Old King Cole,” “Little Jack Horner,” “Little Boy Blue,” and “I’m Little Bo Peep”. The score includes excerpts from Josef Franz Wagner’s “Under the Double Eagle” (1893) for the royal march; Cora Salisbury’s “Ghost Dance” (1911) for Mother Goose’s jig; "Three Blind Mice," "Jack and Jill," "Sing a Song of Sixpence," "Mary Had a Little Lamb," "Baa-baa Black Sheep" (all traditional), and Hal Keidel's "Hi Diddle Diddle" (1926) for the dance finale.
This is the first Silly Symphony with sung lyrics.
Toby Tortoise Returns 1936
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 8 MINS, USA, ENGLISH. DIRECTOR: WILFRED JACKSON / ANIMATION: MILT KAHL, WARD KIMBALL, IZZY KLEIN, DICK LUNDY, MARVIN WOODWARD, BOB STOKES, DICK HUEMER, JACK HANNAH, FRANK OREB, GEORGE ROWLEY, JOHN DUNN / VOICES: NED NORTON, EDDIE HOLDEN, MARTHA WENTWORTH, ALICE ARDELL, LEONE LEDOUX, MARCELLINE GARNER / MUSIC: LEIGH HARLINE
Max Hare and Toby Tortoise face each other again, this time in a boxing match which has attracted a crowd of characters from other Silly Symphonies (notably Jenny Wren, who offers Toby her subtle but effective encouragement). The cocky Max zips in circles around his slow, cumbersome opponent, and seems the obvious winner. But Max's arrogance undoes him again. He stuffs fireworks into Toby's shell, and the Tortoise becomes a living missile, pummeling the Hare unconscious and blasting him out of the arena.
The score includes excerpts from Frank Churchill's "Slow But Sure" (1934); F.A. Partichela's "Mexican Hat Dance" ("El Jarabe Tapatío," 1919); Sol Bloom's "Hootchy Kootchy Dance" (1893); "Frankie and Johnny" (trad., 1870-75); and the children's taunting song "You Never Touched Me" (trad.); plus Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" (1897). Churchill's "Slow But Sure" was Toby Tortoise's theme music, repeated from The Tortoise and the Hare (1934).
Mother Goose Goes Hollywood 1938
35MM, TECHNICOLOR, MONO, 8 MINS, USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR: WILFRED JACKSON / ANIMATION: IZZY KLEIN, BOB STOKES, WARD KIMBALL, DICK LUNDY, GRIM NATWICK, JACK CAMPBELL, DON PATTERSON / VOICES: THE BLACKBIRDS, DAVE WEBER, CLARENCE NASH, THELMA BOARDMAN, ANN LEE, SARA BERGER, AL BERNIE / MUSIC: ED PLUMB
Movie stars appear as traditional nursery rhyme characters in a series of blackout sketches: Katharine Hepburn plays Little Bo Peep; Hugh Herbert appears as King Cole (with a dour Ned Sparks as his jester); Charles Laughton, Spencer Tracy and Freddie Bartholomew are "three men in a tub"; Laurel and Hardy impersonate Simple Simon and the pieman; Wallace Beery is Little Boy Blue. Cab Calloway and his band pop out of a pie, playing a swinging "song of sixpence" which soon has the rest of the cast dancing wildly - all except Bo Peep, who is still looking for her sheep.
The most expensive of all the Silly Symphonies.
The score includes excerpts from the traditional “Three Blind Mice” (main title); “London Bridge is Falling Down” (1879); “Row, Row, Row your Boat” (three men in a tub); T. Marvin Hatley’s Laurel and Hardy theme, “Coo Coo”; and an extended jazz version of the traditional “This is the Way We Wash Our Clothes.”