Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
The best part of this tape, for me, was seeing Roy Rogers with the real, original Trigger. Roy used to say that he never taught that horse any tricks; the horse taught him. All of the short features in this collection are animated, at least in part.
Watching the opening credits, I realized that my parents would recognize most of the names better than I do. Although I do remember hearing the Andrews sisters sing, Dennis Day is nothing more than a familiar name and I never heard of Frances Langford or Ethel Smith.
The first short feature is the weakest, in my opinion. Frances Langford sings Once Upon a Wintertime while we watch a cartoon. A young couple rides through a snow-covered landscape in a sleigh pulled by two horses. A pair of bluebirds follows them. They watch people skating on the frozen pond. The young couple skates on the pond. Bunnies watch them. It is cute, but the only excitement comes when the young lady goes out onto thin ice. The young man fails to rescue her, so the horses, birds and bunnies have to help.
Next, Freddy Martin and his orchestra play bumble boogie, while we watch a cartoon of a bumble bee trying to find a place to rest. Now, this is more like it! The music and the visuals are exciting. I remember watching this as a child. I loved it then, and I love it now. The music is mostly a racing, pounding piano, punctuated by horns.
The third treat in this collection is the story of John Chapman, better known as the legendary Johnny Appleseed. He is remembered for planting apple trees all over the United States, even before some of those states joined the Union. The story begins in 1806, when John was an apple farmer near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He watches the pioneers leaving in Conestoga wagons to settle out West, and he gets an itch to follow them. He goes out West with no knife and no gun, just his apple seeds. The music is kind of sappy, especially when Johnny (Dennis Day) is singing. The orchestra is not named in the opening credits. The story is cute, especially when he encounters a skunk.
The Andrews Sisters sing Little Toot, the story of a little tugboat. Little Toot was always getting into trouble, even when he tried to be good. He wants to play, but there is work to be done. The cartoon shows him making big ocean liners wait while he makes a figure eight in the still water of the harbor. Wont you ever grow up, Little Toot? It shows Little Toot trying to help his father, but messing up and running a big ocean liner aground. The Coast Guard drags him out of the harbor and leaves him out at sea, beyond the 12 mile limit. He has shamed himself and his father, a tugboat that is now relegated to hauling garbage. Little Toot gets the chance to redeem himself when a big storm threatens an ocean liner.
Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians present their arrangement of Trees, the poem by Joyce Kilmer. The instrumental music is dominated by harps and woodwinds. The chorus sings, I think that I shall never see / A poem as lovely as a tree and so forth, through the whole poem. I like the poem, but the music is sappy and insipid. The cartoons of trees are quite beautiful, however, taking the trees through all four seasons of the year. In winter the instrumental music is dominated by brass and cymbals. A man sings an operatic solo, bringing in the spring.
Donald Duck stars in Blame it on the Samba, to the organ music and vocals of Ethel Smith and the Dinning Sisters. Donald and his parrot friend are colored in plain blue and white, until the intoxicating rhythm of the samba brings color into them. The music invites wild dancing, and event he drums dance the samba. This whole sequence is colorful and energizing.
The last selection is Roy Rogers and Trigger with the Sons of the Pioneers, singing and telling the story of Pecos Bill, his horse Widowmaker, and his girlfriend Slewfoot Sue. Of course, Trigger does not sing, but I just love looking at that beautiful horse. Two young cowpokes ask Roy Rogers questions, and you can tell that this was filmed in an era when the stereotypes about boys and girls still held. The story explains why coyotes howl at the Moon. The cartoon is cute and tells a good tall tale that everyone can enjoy.
Run time: 78 minutes
Not Disneys best, these are average shorts that I used to see on TV as a kid. I do recommend it, but not very strongly. Disney has done better, much better.
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Viewing Format: VHS
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children up to Age 4