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Disney Silly Symphonies

2001  Walt Disney Treasures: Silly Symphonies.  The Historical Musical Animated Classics.  2 dvd set.  Introduced by Leonard Maltin.  Unknown source. 

To my surprise, the first disc in this two-disc set contains the three fables I am aware of Disney producing: TH, TMCM, and GA.  TH in 1935 has the whole expanded story, including the parade for Max Hare, the stop at the girls' school, and the finish by an extended neck.  Snails accompany Toby the Tortoise along the way and keep up with him.  Laughter is the response to Toby several times over.  "The Country Cousin," Disney's TMCM in 1936, moves straight to the fancy town mouse's home.  This version is strong on the country mouse getting tipsy.  This is a particularly good print of GA, done in 1934.  I have used sometimes inferior prints in presenting this fable in class.

Disc 2 provides a set of fascinating features using and commenting on the cartoons.  I especially appreciated "Leonard's Picks."  Others focus on nature and music.  A theme throughout Maltin's contributions is the way in which Disney presentations developed.  Some early offerings, like "Skeleton Dance" (1928) are still spellbinding.  Maltin encourages watching the make and remake of "The Ugly Duckling" in 1931 and 1939.  What a difference, both in technical development and even in story sense!

2003  Walt Disney: Silly Symphonies (?).  Chinese and English.  SimaCulture.  Epic Music Video.  $7.50 from Alexlau1998 through Ebay, March, '04.

Though this DVD was sold as "Tortoise and Hare Disney's DVD," it contains over 76 minutes of a variety of "Silly Symphonies," including titles like "3 Little Wolves"; "Peculiar Penguins"; "Water Babies"; and "Father Noah's Ark."  The first Silly Symphony here is in fact Disney's 1934 "The Tortoise and the Hare," featuring Max Hare and Toby Tortoise in the "Big Race."  The second video was the big surprise to me: "Toby Tortoise Returns" from 1936.  The two characters are back, this time in a boxing match.  Max performs all of his tricks in the ring, many of them Disney's delightful fantasies, for example of Max's boxing gloves continuing to pound Toby while Max is doing other things.  Max's last ploys turn on him, including filling Toby's shell with water and especially filling his shell with fireworks.  The fireworks launch Toby in pursuit of Max, eventually driving Max into the ambulance he had ready for Toby.  A Mae West character and the girls from the school are part of the boxing match audience.  There is a typical slip-up in English on the back cover of the carton, speaking of "baller" where "ballet" is clearly called for.

2006  Walt Disney Treasures: More Silly Symphonies .  The Historical Musical Animated Classics.  2 dvd set.  Introduced by Leonard Maltin.  Unknown source.

As the promotion says, "This second volume of the revolutionary series boasts some of Disney's rarest cartoons, including over a dozen never before released on DVD or video."  Among the first disc's highlights is the never-before-released "Hell's Bells."  The advertising seems to claim that "Mother Goose Goes Hollywood" in its original unedited form is also here, but I could not find it on either disc.  Maltin and others highlight the stereotypes that we would find offensive today but were standard stuff in the 30's.  I enjoyed "Hell's Bells" and "Broken Toys." 

On Disc 2 of this second set, there are ten more cartoons.  The abundant commentary highlights the development that occurred over the history of these cartoons.  From the beginning, Disney's genius included the ability to break up bodies and machines and then reconstitute them.  "Cock of the Walk" here repeats a fable theme: the loser becomes the winner, here when a star-struck chicken finds a picture of the "winner's" children.  As I researched both pairs of Disney dvds, I discovered how expensive they are, roughly $130 and $200.  I did not know what I had!