Title: Make Mine Music
Release Date: April 20, 1946
Director: Jack Kinney, Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Joshua Meador, and Robert Cormack
Production Company: Walt Disney Productions
Last year, I started a project to watch and review every Walt Disney and Pixar animated feature film. With the launch of Disney+, I’ve decided it’s a good time to resume the project. Instead of watching the remaining films in chronological order, I decided to watch poorly-reviewed films first and work my way to the all-time classics. Make Mine Music is universally a Disney animated film held in low regard. In fact, Make Mine Music is one of the few movies not available on Disney+ so I watched a version on Internet Archive that is from a 1985 Japanese laserdisc!
Make Mine Music is the third of six “package films” that Walt Disney Productions released in the 1940s when the war in Europe closed off markets and most Disney animators either were serving in the military or working on war time films for the US. government. These movies are basically a collection of shorter works around a theme that allowed Disney to release feature-length films cheaply and easily under these conditions. (Fantasia, which was released before the US entry into the war is not considered a package film despite being made up of discrete segments). With 10 different segments, Make Mine Music has more segments than any other package film and is basically a glorified collection of Silly Symphonies.
The theme of the movie is, of course, music. The animated visuals are accompanied by musical performances by The King’s Men, Benny Goodman and His Orchestra, Andy Russell, Dinah Shore, and The Andrews Sisters. It’s tempting to see some of these segments as predecessors to music videos. There are also some segments that adapt musical stories such as “Casey at the Bat” (more of a poetry recitation), “Peter and the Wolf,” and the longest segment, “The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met.”
There is no narration or anything that links together these segments, and a lot of them are below par by Disney standards, although parts could be spun off as mildly entertaining shorts. And I know that this has been done, because I’ve seen “Casey at the Bat” before. My favorite segment is “All the Cats Join In” which features stylized illustrations of teenagers enjoying swing music that is “drawn” as we watch (much like Harold and the Purple Crayon). It might possibly also depict interracial dating although it’s more likely that it’s just a girl with a deep suntan. I feel that “The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met” is a noble failure, because it’s a cute story but it would have worked better as a short, or maybe even if the characters were developed it could be a feature film on its own. But at it’s current length it just feels like a padded repetition of the same gags.
Make Mine Music isn’t particularly good, but it isn’t loathsome either. With ten segments there’s probably something for everyone, although it’s doubtful that anyone will be delighted by the entire film.