Ranking the Disney Canon – 37: Make Mine Music

“Willie is still singing, in a hundred voices, each more golden than before, and he’ll go on singing in a voice so cheery forever.” –Narrator of “The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met”

And here we go onto our 2nd Package Film! There’s not much to say in terms of introduction other than this was the first package film released after the two Government Mandated South American films, and that it is in the same style, the “Fantasia Cousin” style, as the other package film we’ve looked at, Melody Time. I should mention that this is one of the few Disney films to have a major portion edited out of it. The opening segment, “The Martins and the Coys,” was edited out of the film for many video releases due to the heavy gun usage in the short. We, of course, will be looking at the original 1946 version.

As opposed to the 7 segments from Melody Time, Make Mine Music has 10 segments.These segments are “The Martins and the Coys,” a comic country tale of two feuding families, “Blue Bayou,” a musical look at the swamps of New Orleans, “All the Cats Join In,” a look at teenagers and their love for contemporary music, “Without You,” a sad segment about lost love, “Casey at the Bat,” a musical retelling of the classic Baseball poem, “Two Silhouettes,” a ballet segment featuring two live dancers, “Peter and the Wolf,” a version of the classic Russian composition, “After You’ve Gone,” which features the musical adventures of four instruments, “Johnny Fedora and Alice Blue Bonnet,” the story of two hats who fall in love only to be taken away from each other, and “The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met,” the tragic tale of an opera singing whale.

STRENGTHS

To get this out of the way, since it was the major complaint of the Melody Time, I want to say that this package film has some very good pacing. There’s a great mix of the good, faster segments with the slower segments, and there’s never two bad segments in a row, which is a very good thing. Starting out with “The Martins and the Coys” was a great choice, as it has some good comedy and is a great fast paced way to start the film.

In terms of the content, Make Mine Music is full of classic and memorable segments. The three best are easily “All the Cats Join In,” “Casey at the Bat,” and “The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met”. These segments are entertaining all the way through, are engaging, entertaining, and fun. “Johnny Fedora and Alice Blue Bonnet,” and “When You’ve Gone” are also fun segments.

Another thing worth noting is the fact that this film does feature a lot of interesting animation, even if the segments they go along with aren’t exactly interesting. The two that come to mind immediately are “All the Cats Join In,” and “Two Silhouettes.” The animation on both of these sections are neat, and unique enough to enhance the first and save the second.

Finally, we have to take note that this is the second Sterling Holloway appearance on the countdown! In Make Mine Music, Holloway narrates the “Peter and the Wolf” segment in his signature voice and style. STERLING HOLLOWAY COUNT: 2

WEAKNESSES

A common thread that runs through Make Mine Music is that the segments tend to have very strong beginnings that lead to much weaker endings. This is most apparent in “The Martins and the Coys” where the first half comedy is killer, as opposed to the second half, which drags on with a square dance segment, and then just ends very quickly after that. It turns a very promising segment into one that is just OK.

I said this was a common thread throughout the film, and indeed, this sort of downgrade happens to many of the film’s segments, including “Peter and the Wolf,” “Johnny Fedora and Alice Blue Bonnet,” and “After You’ve Gone.” None of these segments are bad, but their weaker second halves to weaken the segments and the film. In fact, I think the only two segments that are completely free of this weakening are “Casey at the Bat” and “The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met.” Even “All the Cats Join In” flatlines by the end.

Even though the pacing is good, I still don’t feel that the slower segments are particularly strong. The common thread between these sections is that nothing really happens during them. In comparison to the much more story and character driven segments that surround them, “Blue Bayou,” “Without You,” and” Two Silhouettes” all feel boring. The best you can say is that they can be interesting to look at, which personally for me, doesn’t cut it. These segments are pretty unmemorable and unsubstantial, and are easily skippable.

Also, out of all the package films, this has the worst connections between the sections, because there are no connections between each sections. All that is presented is a title card with the singer. No narration, no introduction, nothing. It is the only package film to lack any sort of true connection, and it really hurts the film, making it feel less like a cohesive film and more like a very simple collection of shorts. It is important to make the films seem seamless, and Make Mine Music doesn’t pull this off.

Finally, it’s got the weakest title song of all the package films. It certainly isn’t the best song of the film. It’s not even close. It’s not memorable, and is almost forgotten by the time the first short starts.

BEST MOMENT AND SONG

Personally, I feel the strongest segment overall is “Casey at the Bat.” It’s entertaining all the way through, which is a success for this sort of film.

The best song? Well, it has to be the opera selections from “The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met.” While this may be our longest best moment yet, it has some very classical and recognizable music.

CLOSING COMMENTS

While Make Mine Music is better than Melody Time, and is certainly more watchable and enjoyable, it ranks lower than other four package films because at times these films feel unfocused. They have many great moments, and in the case of Make Mine Music, good pacing, but even compared to its cousin Fantasia, it isn’t as fantastic. The package films from here on out are very strong, but Make Mine Music just doesn’t make the cut.

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One thought on “Ranking the Disney Canon – 37: Make Mine Music

  1. I may not have seen all the segments from “Make Mine Music”, but based on some of the segments I have seen (Such as Casey at the Bat, Peter and the Wolf, All the Cats Join In, and The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met) they are each watchable and enjoyable in their own way. Whether it’s for some of their catchy tunes or the characters used to help bring the story along, or at least a plot in some form, it definitely sets itself at a decent pace. But on a negative note, much like most package films, there’s hardly much that ties these segments together and most of the time these films don’t have much focus to really grasp the attention of their audience. To even compare this movie with the likes of Fantasia is a bit of an understatement and as decent as “Make Mine Music” may be it’s anything but a strong film. But if one is ever up for a feature with music to keep them occupied, this film definitely sets the bar on quality tunes.

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