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Monthly Archives: August 2012

August 21

August 21, 2004 – The Disney Channel Original Series Brandy & Mr. Whiskers Premieres

Image credit: wikipedia

“You’ve got to be kidding me, this is not a mall! Malls have stores and movie theaters and food courts! Not filthy animals bathing in their own drinking water!”

On August 21, 2004, the first four episodes of the Disney Channel Original Series Brandy & Mr. Whiskers premiered. The show was about a dog named Brandy Harrington (voiced by Kaley Cuoco) and a rabbit named Mr. Whiskers (voiced by Charlie Adler), and their adventures in the Amazon rainforest. Although their personalities are miles apart, the  two have to work together to survive in the rainforest, which is alien territory to them both. The show lasted only two seasons, and has not been released on DVD.

The first half of the pilot episode, “Mr. Whisker’s First Friend,” has Brandy and Mr. Whiskers meeting on an airplane flying over the Amazon rainforest.  When Brandy asks Mr. Whiskers to turn on the light so she can read a magazine, he accidentally pulls the emergency escape hatch in the cargo hold, and the two fall into the rainforest­. Brandy, angered by this turn of events, trades Mr. Whiskers for a map to help her escape, but in the end, she gets Mr. Whiskers back, and the two build a treehouse. The second half, “The Babysitter’s Flub,” finds Brandy and Mr. Whiskers babysitting Mama Crock’s eggs. The other episodes shown were “Cyranosaurus Rex/To The Moon, Whiskers,” “Lack of Brains vs. Brawns/The No Sleep Over,” and “The Fashion Fascist/Happy Birthdays.”

August 20

August 20, 1932 – The Mickey Mouse Short Film Trader Mickey is Released to Theaters

“Whoopee!”

On August 20, 1932, the Mickey Mouse short film Trader Mickey was released to theaters. It was the first short film directed by Dave Hand.

Mickey and Pluto are on a paddleboat, traveling down a river filled with hippos, with Mickey playing a merry tune on his banjo. They arrive at a riverbank, and Mickey pulls out a gun to go hunting. When Pluto goes to explore, he comes across a native, who scare the dog. As Pluto howls and runs back, he knocks into Mickey, who accidentally discharges the gun. Mickey and Pluto immediately find themselves surrounded and captured by the natives.

Mickey is brought in front of the chief and the chef, both of which think he’ll make a fantastic entree

Mickey and Pluto are taken directly to the king at his camp, and the chef hurries over, thinking that Mickey would make an excellent meal. He is placed in a pot of hot water, and Pluto is placed on a platter, made up like a suckling pig, complete with apple. The natives begin to go through Mickey’s supplies, not knowing how to use any of the instruments. When the chef attempts to use a saxophone as a spoon, Mickey grabs it from him and begins to play a merry tune. The chef begins to dance, and soon all the natives join in with the music.

Mickey, now out of the pot, entertains the chief with a harmonica. The chief takes it from him and begins to play it, accidentally swallowing it. As the music continues, the native continue to dance, with Mickey and Pluto free to join them. In the end the chief falls into the pot, but laughs and gives out a “Whoopee!”

August 19

August 19, 1933 – The Silly Symphony Lullaby Land is Released to Theaters

“Into Lullaby Land of Nowhere, sleepyheads always go there.”

 On August 19, 1933, the Silly Symphony Lullaby Land was released to theaters. The title song, composed by Frank Churchill, was eventually released as sheet music, as were many of the popular Silly Symphonies. Lullaby Land was directed by Wilfred Jackson

The short opens with a baby being rocked to sleep by his mother, who begins to sing a lullaby. As she sings, the baby drifts off to sleep and to a dreamland called “Lullaby Land,” accompanied by his stuffed dog that has come to life. The baby begins to explore, finding flowers made of baby powder bottles, bushes made of pacifiers, and trees made of baby rattles. The baby and the dog hear the sound of trumpets, and look to see a parade of baby items march by, including a string of marching diapers and dancing castor oil.

Although there are many signs warning the baby not to enter, his curiosity gets the best of him, and he goes to explore the Forbidden Garden

When the baby and dog follow the parade, the baby notices an area called the “Forbidden Garden,” marked with signs warning him to stay away. Intrigued, the baby wanders in with the dog close at his side. The garden is filled with dangerous objects for a baby, like corkscrews and fountain pens with ink. The dangerous items come to life and begin fighting each other. The baby grabs a hammer and destroys a tree made of pocket watches. The baby then accidentally lights a box of matches and the lit matches chase the baby around the garden.

The song warns the baby that the boogeyman will get him because he didn’t obey. The baby eludes the matches by crossing a small pond on a bar of soap. Three black clouds appearing at the matches’ demise, and the three clouds turn into three boogeymen, who try to scare the baby. The baby runs for his life from the boogeymen chase him who suddenly disappear into the night. As the baby and dog cower behind a tree, the Sandman greets them and helps put the two to sleep with sweet dreams. The short ends with the baby’s mother covering her son with a blanket and finishing her lullaby.

August 18

August 18, 1931 – The Mickey Mouse Short Film Blue Rhythm is Released to Theaters

“I hate to see the evenin’ sun come down.”

 On August 18, 1931, the Mickey Mouse short film Blue Rhythm was released to theaters. The song used in the short is “Saint Louis Blues,” a jazz standard from 1914, written by W.C. Handy, and famously sung by Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong. The short was directed by Burt Gillett, and stars Walt Disney as the voice of Mickey Mouse, and Marcellite Garner as the voice of Minnie Mouse.

The curtain opens on a grand stage to reveal Mickey playing a piece on the piano. He soon switches genres of music from classical to jazz, and begins playing around with the piano keys. Minnie enters stage left and begins to walk in time to the music before singing “Saint Louis Blues” rather dramatically. Mickey finds gum under the piano and gets his fingers stuck to it, which causes him some difficulty playing Minnie’s song.

Mickey leaves the piano to join Minnie in scatting and dancing across the stage

Minnie moves on to perform some jazz scatting with Mickey leaving the piano to join her. The two then begin to tap dance across the stage, and leave as the background curtain rises to reveal Horace Horsecollar and other members of the orchestra continuing to play the piece. Mickey appears from a trapdoor and conducts the orchestra. Pluto, playing the trombone, keeps hitting Mickey in the back with the slide, which causes Mickey to break it in half in frustration.

The lights go out, and the orchestra stops in confusion before seeing the spotlight on Mickey, who puts on a crushed top hat and begins to play the clarinet. The orchestra once again continues to play, and the concert ends with the stage falling apart thanks to their spirited playing.

August 17

August 17, 2004 – The Direct-to-Video Film Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers is Released

“You see, before their dream can come true, our three heroes must learn the real meaning of the musketeer creed. All for one, and one for all!”

On August 17, 2004, the direct-to-video film Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers was released on VHS and DVD. It was produced by DisneyToon Studios and directed by Donovan Cook. The story is based on The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, and was adapted by David M. Evans and Evan Spiliotopoulos. Vocal talents include Wayne Allwine as Mickey Mouse, Tony Anselmo as Donald Duck, Bill Farmer as Goofy, Russi Taylor as Minnie Mouse, Tress MacNeille as Daisy Duck, Jim Cummings as Pete, and Rob Paulsen as the Troubadour (narrator). The songs of the film are interpretations of well-known classical pieces; the opera in the film is Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance.

The story begins with a crew preparing for Masterpiece Theater kind of program, and a turtle is seen sitting in a chair, reading a comic book of the story and singing loudly. He helps to bring the narrator of the show to the set, but when the narrator falls down a trap door, the turtle begins to tell the story from his comic book, of Mickey, Goofy, and Donald, and their goal to become musketeers. Their childhood is in the gutter, and one day as they are attacked, the musketeers save them. Inspired by their bravery, the trio swears they will become musketeers.

Mickey, Donald, and Goofy watch the musketeers as they go through their training drills, dreaming of the day they will join

Years later, the three still dream of the day they will be musketeers, but instead are janitors, constantly getting themselves into trouble, although they always have the best of intentions. Pete, the Captain of the Musketeers, is constantly annoyed with the trio and their accidents, and refuses to ever let them become musketeers. Meanwhile, at the palace, Princess Minnie is sitting and daydreaming about her one true love, while Daisy, her lady-in-waiting, sounds off as the voice of reason. Minnie strolls through the garden, daydreaming about the day she’ll meet him, when she narrowly misses getting hit by a safe. The Beagle Boys, the villains that attempted to crush the princess, report to their boss of their failure – with their boss just happening to be Pete. His plan is to kidnap the princess, then become king in her absence. Fortunately, they weren’t supposed to kill her anyway, but Pete replaces them with Clarabelle Cow.

The Princess calls Pete for a meeting, demanding that he provide musketeer bodyguards. Pete stalls for time, but tells Minnie that she will have bodyguards very soon. He surprises Mickey and his friends with the opportunity they’ve been dying for: to be musketeers. Pete believes that their incompetency will help his plan in becoming king. The trio arrives at the palace, and immediately gets into trouble when Goofy attacks a suit of armor, thinking it’s a bad guy. The door opens to reveal the three trying to put the armor back together again, and the moment Minnie and Mickey see each other, it’s love at first sight. The mood is broken when Daisy enters the room with a snack and, upon seeing the knife she carries, the trio attacks her, thinking she’s a bad guy. Although Minnie is furious at the infraction, she forgives them after hearing Mickey’s apology.

After Mickey rescues the princess, they take a romantic journey back to the palace, with romance blooming between the two

When the trio escorts Minnie and Daisy on a trip through the country, they are ambushed by the Beagle Boys. Mickey fights bravely, but the Princess and Daisy are captured. Goofy cries, thinking they’ve failed, but Mickey rallies their spirits and they track down the girls at a decrepit tower, and launch a brave, if purely accidental, rescue. Romance begins to bloom between Mickey and Minnie as they travel back to the palace, culminating in Minnie giving Mickey a kiss. When Pete sees that his kidnap plan has failed, he switches gears: he needs to get rid of Mickey, Donald, and Goofy, picking them off one by one. Goofy is tricked by Clarabelle and taken to drown in the Seine. Donald is scared off by the Beagle Boys, but hides in a suit of armor. When he sees Mickey, he tries to convince his friend that they need to run away. He tries to explain that Pete is the bad guy, but Mickey can’t understand Donald. Finally, he understands, but Mickey refuses to leave his post. Donald, unfortunately, decides to run, too afraid to stay.

While Mickey remains at the palace, Pete captures him and chains him in the basement of a decrepit castle that will fill with water when the tide comes in. Pete then heads to the opera, where he will trick the people of France into believing that Minnie has abdicated and declared him king. Clarabelle, on the other hand, is trying to drown Goofy, when Goofy falls for Clarabelle at first sight. She tries to resist his charms, but she can’t. Quickly, she tells him of how he needs to save Mickey. The bridge they’re standing on breaks, and as luck would have it, Donald is in a rowboat right underneath them.

The trio fights with Pete for the trunk, which contains Minnie and Daisy

The tide has begun to rise in the dungeon, and the Goofy and Donald race to save Mickey. Donald, still afraid, still tries to run away, but Goofy and the Troubadour are able to convince the duck to get over his fears and save their friend. They reach Mickey just in time, and they all race off to save the princess. When Minnie and Daisy arrive at the opera, they are quickly kidnapped by Pete and his henchmen, who lock the girls away in a trunk. One of the Beagle Boys, dressed as Minnie, declares Pete to be the new king. The show begins, and the trio arrives just in time, beginning an epic swordfight onstage during the opera. The swordfight ends with Pete battling Mickey one-on-one. While it looks like Mickey has been beaten, Goofy and Donald reappear and help Mickey defeat Pete and his evil scheme.

It’s a happy ending for all, and Mickey and Minnie have fallen in love, as well as Goofy and Clarabelle. Donald, meanwhile, gives an embarrassed smile to Daisy, who surprises him by taking him in her arms and kissing him. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are made official musketeers, as thanks for saving France. The movie ends with a heroic song and dance with all the musketeers.

August 16

August 16, 1955 – The Fantasyland Attraction Dumbo Flying Elephants Opens in Disneyland

Image credit: official Disneyland website

“Feel a lighthearted thrill as Dumbo lifts off the ground, leaving the cares of the world behind.”

On August 16, 1955, the popular Fantasyland attraction Dumbo Flying Elephants opened at Disneyland. The ride was based on the 1941 classic animated feature Dumbo, namely the iconic scene where Dumbo learns to fly. Guests ride in Dumbo-shaped gondolas which they control with levers to move them up and down. The ride is accompanied by the music of an authentic Gavioli organ, built in 1915, playing the familiar songs of popular Disney films.

The ride was remodeled in 1990 with parts that were supposed to be shipped to EuroDisney, but were kept in Disneyland as they were not needed as early as expected. A new attraction was built in Disneyland Paris in 1992. The ride has also been built in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, opening October 1, 1971, and Tokyo Disneyland, opening April 15, 1983.

August 15

August 15, 1946 – The 8th Animated Feature, Make Mine Music, is Released to Theaters

“Make mine music and my heart will sing.”

 On August 15, 1946, Disney’s eighth animated feature, Make Mine Music, was released to theaters. This was the first postwar package film released by Disney, as financial problems prevented the studio from creating a full animated feature. The talents in the film include Nelson Eddy, Dinah Shore, Benny Goodman, the Andrews Sisters, Jerry Colonna, Andy Russell, Sterling Holloway, Riabouchinska and Lichine, Pied Pipers, the King’s Men, and the Ken Darby Chorus. The music director was Charles Wolcott, with songs written by Ray Gilbert, Eliot Daniel, Allie Wrubel, and Bobby Worth. The production supervisor was Joe Grant, with sequence directors Jack Kinney, Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Robert Cormack, and Joshua Meador. Many segments have been shown as separate entities on television and as short films before theatrical releases; the film has never been released on home video in its entirety.

The first segment is The Martins and the Coys, featuring the popular radio vocal group The King’s Men. The segment, a play on the story of the Hatfields and the McCoys where two members of the rival families meet and fall in love, was cut from the video release due to the gunplay aspect of the segment. It has yet to be released on home video.

The crane in the bayou from the segment Blue Bayou

The next segment is entitled Blue Bayou, sung by the Ken Darby Chorus. It is a slow, artistic piece about a moonlit night in the bayou, and a majestic crane that explores before it flies off into the night with another crane. The artwork was originally meant for Fantasia, to be used with Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.”

Blue Bayou is followed by a jazz interlude called All the Cats Join In, performed by Benny Goodman and his orchestra. A sketchbook opens on a drafting table, and a pencil springs to life and draws a jukebox and a cat, then erases the cat, and draws a teenaged boy. The boy calls his friends to meet him down at the jukebox at the malt shop. Everyone races down to dance at the malt shop, while the pencil continues to draw the story out for the audience.

A ballad in blue follows, with Andy Russell singing Without You. The rain falls outside a window in a dark room, which lightens enough for the audience to see a love letter on a nearby desk. The focus then goes back to the window to show a rather gloomy willow tree at the side of a river. Different scenes appear on the screen to match the lyrics of the scene, including church windows and a starry night. The segment ends back at the window, showing the room once again in darkness, reflecting a lone star in the sky.

Jerry Colonna entertains the audience with the next segment, a reading of the poem Casey at the Bat. Every member of the town of Mudville is heading to the ballpark to see Casey, “the pride of them all.” The game doesn’t look so good for Mudville, as they’re losing 4 to 2. Two players manage to hit the ball when Casey comes up to bat. Casey’s a show-off, always flirting with the ladies, and cockily steps up to the plate. The tension is high in the stadium as Casey ignores two pitches and gets two strikes. Everyone watches carefully as Casey gets ready to hit the ball, but the short ends with the famous line, “…but there is no joy in Mudville – Mighty Casey has struck out,” and Casey comically crying in the rainy baseball stadium.

Dinah Shore sings for a “Ballade Ballet” entitled Two Silhouettes, performed by dancers Tania Riabouchinska and David Lichine. The dancers are seen only in silhouette in an animated world. The theme of the ballet is of a boy meeting and losing his love, only to find her again before the end.

A majority of the cast of Peter and the Wolf, with the town in Russia celebrating the triumphant end

One of the more well-known segments in this film is the Sterling Holloway-narrated version of Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. The story, with the characters “speaking” through corresponding musical instruments and themes, is about a young boy named Peter (string quartet), who meets with his friends Sascha the bird (flute), Sonia the duck (oboe), and Ivan the cat (clarinet) to hunt the wolf (French horns) that has been haunting the woods, against the wishes of Peter’s grandfather (bassoon). In this animated retelling of the 1936 composition, the ending has been changed to make it more child-friendly, although Peter and his friends still capture the wolf.

The next segment is entitled After You’re Gone, performed by the Benny Goodman Quartet. Animated musical instruments are seen goofing around in true animation style. This is more of an artistic musical fantasy, rather than an animated tale, as seen with the other segments. It serves as a musical interlude between one story segment and the next.

The Andrews Sisters perform the next segment, the love story of Johnny Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet. The two are hats that sit in the window of a department store, with it being love at first sight. One day, Alice is bought for $23.94, and the lovers are separated. Johnny is soon bought by another patron, and his mood improves, as he is able to look for Alice as he travels around the city of New York. The short ends with Johnny and Alice reuniting as hats for the ice-man’s horses.

The last segment of the film, known as “Opera Pathetique,” is The Whale Who Wanted to Sing At The Met, feaures Nelson Eddy, who performs as all the characters. The segment tells the tragic story of Willie the Whale, who dreams of signing at the Metropolitan Opera. The story of his singing makes front-page news. Impresario Tetti-Tatti declares that Willie must have swallowed an opera singer, and announces that he will go and save the singer. In the end, after an elaborate dream segment of Tetti-Tatti discovering Willie and making him a star, Tetti-Tatti harpoons Willie, killing him. However, Eddy reassures the audience that Willie is now performing in Heaven to a sold-out crowd.

August 14

August 14, 1995 – Michael Ovitz is Named President of the Walt Disney Company

“Mr. Ovitz described the meeting [with Michael Eisner] as ‘an interesting way to start my career at the Walt Disney Company.’”-David Teather, in The Guardian on October 27, 2004

On August 14, 1995, Michael Ovitz was named the new president of the Walt Disney Company by Disney chairman Michael Eisner. After co-founding the Creative Arts Agency in 1975, Ovitz resigned his position there in 1995 to accept the Disney position. However, he grew frustrated with the role as the second-in-command to Eisner, along with the scrutiny from the media, and announced his resignation on December 27, 1996, which became effective on January 31, 1997. His severance package included $38 million in cash and about $131 million in stock. He was succeeded by Robert Iger.

August 13

August 13, 1932 – The Mickey Mouse Short Film Mickey’s Nightmare is Released to Theaters

“God bless Minnie, God bless Pluto, God bless everybody. Amen.”

On August 13, 1932, the Mickey Mouse short film Mickey’s Nightmare was released to theaters. The short was directed by Burt Gillett, and stars Pinto Colvig as Pluto and Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse.

Mickey gets ready for bed, giving a kiss to the photo of Minnie on his nightstand before extinguishing his candle. While he snores away, Pluto sneaks onto his bed and begins licking Mickey’s face, which Mickey interprets as Minnie kissing him in his dreams. The dream begins with Mickey presenting Minnie with a rather large diamond engagement ring while wedding bells chime in the background. The happy couple are seen at their wedding, which is soon followed by married bliss at a house in the country with a “heart” motif.

Mickey enters his room in horror to see that he and Minnie have been presented 21 children by the stork

While Mickey is watering the lawn, the shadow of large bird passes overhead, and Mickey looks up in alarm. The bird is actually the stork, bringing a present for the happy couple. Mickey, proud to now be a father, shakes hands with Pluto. Suddenly, more storks appear with more bundles of joy, dropping them down the chimney of the house. Mickey, alarmed, runs inside to see Minnie and 21 children all tucked into one bed. The children greet him and begin to run around wildly. Mickey and Pluto try to escape, but are trapped.

The children begin to wreak havoc around the house, throwing kitchen knives and dressing Pluto in a corset and heels. Mickey tries to stop them, but to no avail: there are just too many children. At one point, the children grab buckets of paint and begin to paint the house, with one using the cat and another using the parrot as paintbrushes. Pluto finds himself painted with stripes; when he tries to hide in the washing machine, one of the children starts it up.

In his nightmare, Mickey is trapped by his children, with one of them painting his face with a mop

Mickey soon finds himself tied up and held hostage by the children as one paints his face with a mop. He awakes to find himself tied in his sheets, with Pluto happily licking his face. He rejoices in the fact that it was all just a nightmare, and gives out a shout of delight.

August 12

August 12, 2003 – The Cheetah Girls Soundtrack is Released on Walt Disney Records

“Our spots are different, different colors, we make each other stronger, that ain’t ever gonna change. We’re Cheetah Girls, Cheetah Sisters.”

On August 12, 2003, the soundtrack to the hit Disney Channel Original Movie The Cheetah Girls was released on Walt Disney Records. The songs are sung by the original actors, Raven-Symone, Adrienne Bailon, Sabrina Bryan, and Kiely Williams. Bailon and Williams were former members of the girl group 3LW. The album was certified Double Platinum, selling more than 2 million copies; the album peaked at #33 on the Billboard 200 chart. A repackaged version was released with several bonus tracks, including remixes and karaoke songs.

Three singles were released from the album: “Cinderella” (originally performed by i5), “Girl Power,” and “Cheetah Sisters.” The original track listing includes eight tracks, with four performed by The Cheetah Girls: “C’mon” by Sonic Chaos, “Girlfriend” by Char, “Breakthrough” by Hope7, and “End of the Line” by Christi Mac. The album has become one of the most successful soundtracks for Disney Channel Original Movies, surpassed only by High School Musical in 2006.