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December 9

December 9, 1938 – The Silly Symphony Merbabies is Released to Theaters

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On December 9, 1938, the Silly Symphony Merbabies was released to theaters. It is the only Silly Symphony to be outsourced for its production; although released as a Disney film, it was actually animated by former colleagues of Walt’s who had branched off to form their own studio, Harman-Ising Studios. After Harman-Ising ran into some problems with MGM cutting their contract, Walt, realizing that the workload for his own studio was too much for his animators to handle, asked Harman-Ising to help develop this Silly Symphony, which is considered a sequel to Water Babies, released in 1935. The short was directed by Rudolf Ising, with supervision by Ben Sharpsteen, Dave Hand, Otto Englander, and Walt Disney.

It’s a beautiful day at the ocean, and the merbabies emerge from the bubbles in the foam to play in the waves. They play about the rocks and seaweed, splashing around before diving underwater for the parade under the sea. They cheer and dance about as the parade passes through, with several octopi and other creatures travel by. Starfish and clownfish dance around, and an organ drives by playing a merry tune, leading into a circus tent. Several acts take place, including snails balancing pearls like trained seals, with one baby snail upset that they aren’t given an opportunity to perform. Near the end, several merbabies head out to do a synchronized swimming routine amongst the bubbles. Unfortunately, the celebrations ends when the baby snail accidentally causes a giant whale to sneeze, sending everyone flying back to the surface, where the bubbles pop, and the merbabies become one with the ocean again.

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