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Tag Archives: Silly Symphony

December 4

December 4, 2001 – The First Wave of Walt Disney Treasures is Released

“I came up with this idea originally six years ago and pitched it to (Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios) Dick Cook and he was very amenable to having a meeting.” – Leonard Maltin (as told to UltimateDisney.com)

On December 4, 2001, the first wave of a new series of DVD releases entitled Walt Disney Treasures was released. These limited-edition two-disc sets included short films, Walt Disney anthology segments, and never before seen material across four different sets: Mickey Mouse in Living Color; Silly Symphonies; Disneyland, USA; and Davy Crockett. Only 150,000 copies of each DVD set were released. The idea for the sets came from film critic and historian Leonard Maltin, who also introduces each set, explaining a bit about the content and providing historical context for the pieces that may be controversial. Since its release, there have been nine waves of releases, the last one released in 2009.

December 16

December 16, 1929 – The Silly Symphony The Merry Dwarfs Premieres in Theaters

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On December 16, 1929, the Silly Symphony The Merry Dwarfs was released to theaters. It was directed by Walt Disney.

The short begins with the dwarfs dancing in their village to the opening of the “Anvil Chorus” from Il Trovatore. The dwarfs are then seen hard at work at their chores, including working at a shoemaker shop and a blacksmiths. Afterwards, they prepare for a party, where plenty of beer is served and consumed before they continue to dance and be merry. Two of the dwarves fall into a barrel of beer while dancing and end up dancing while heavily intoxicated.

March 26

March 26, 1907 – Composer and Disney Legend Leigh Harline is Born

Leigh Harline

“[Harline’s songs] seemed like symphonic writing by a good classical composer.” – Director Wilfred Jackson

On March 26, 1907, Leigh Harline was born to a large family in Salt Lake City. After majoring in music at the University of Utah, he moved to California in 1928 to work as a composer, conductor, arranger, instrumentalist, singer, and announcer for various radio stations. He joined the Disney Studios in 1932, and quickly set to work writing music for the Silly Symphony series. After acknowledging the innovative ways of using music to tell the story, Walt Disney gave Harline the plum role of scoring the studio’s first full-length animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, alongside fellow Disney Legend Frank Churchill. Harline and Churchill’s work on the film scored them an Oscar nomination for Best Music and Score. Afterwards, he was asked to work on Pinocchio, which scored him two Oscars: Best Music and Original Score, and Best Song for the classic “When You Wish Upon a Star.” He left in 1941 to work at several other studios as a freelance composer, and racked up eight additional Oscar nominations throughout his career. In the 1960s, Harline added television scoring to his repertoire, scoring for several popular series, such as Daniel Boone, featuring another Disney Legend, Fess Parker. On December 10, 1969, Harline passed away in Long Beach, California. For his work on early Disney shorts, and for creating one of the most iconic songs from the studio, he was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2001.

March 4

March 4, 1937 – The Silly Symphony The Country Cousin Wins Best Animated Short Film at the Academy Awards

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On March 4, 1937, the 9th Academy Awards were held at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Disney’s Silly Symphony The Country Cousin walked away as the winner for Best Animated Short Film, beating out the likes of Harman-Ising’s The Old Mill Pond and Fleischer Studios Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor. This was Disney’s fifth win in this category, having dominated since the category’s conception in 1932.

December 27

December 27, 1930 – The Silly Symphony Playful Pan is Released to Theaters

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On December 27, 1930, the Silly Symphony Playful Pan was released to theaters. The short was inspired by the tale of the Greek god Pan, a god of nature. It was directed by Burt Gillett.

Pan appears on a rock and starts playing his flute, causing the fish to dance around him. As he continues to play his pan flute, the flowers also begin to dance around at his command. He begins to play around an apple tree, calling all the worms to attention. They begin to dance around as he changes his tune. The trees and clouds begin to join in as well, with one of the clouds creating lightning so bad that it cuts a tree in half and starts a fire in the forest. The animals flee as the forest quickly burns, though many try to douse the flames and save their families. One of the raccoons alerts Pan, who rushes to the scene and puts the fire under his musical spell. He leads them into the river like a pied piper and they put themselves out. Pan cheers and disappears after saving the forest.

December 17

December 17, 1931 – The Silly Symphony The Ugly Duckling is Released to Theaters

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On December 17, 1931, the Silly Symphony The Ugly Duckling was released to theaters. The short was based on the short story by Hans Christian Andersen, and was one of the only Silly Symphonies remade in color; the color version was also the last Silly Symphony, and won an Academy Award for Best Cartoon of 1939. The 1931 short was directed by Wilfred Jackson.

A hen is sound asleep in her nest, when her chicks start to hatch. The last egg, however, is of a duck, and the hen is alarmed to find a duckling in her nest. She escorts her chicks far away from the duckling, and the poor ducking is upset at being abandoned. When the chicks steal his food and dismiss him, he is upset. The constant abandonment causes him to cry, but he tries to find a new mother within the farm. He cries by the side of a pond, until he spies a tornado sweeping through the farm. He tries to warn the hen and her chicks, and does so just in time, though they kick him out of their hiding place. The chicks are swept up into the air and land into the rushing river, much to the hen’s dismay. The duckling, exhibiting an ability to swim, goes after the chicks and manages to save them just in the nick of time. The chicks and the hen embrace him as one of their own, and he quacks happily.

December 9

December 9, 1933 – The Silly Symphony The Night Before Christmas is Released to Theaters

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“Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”

On December 9, 1933, the Silly Symphony The Night Before Christmas was released to theaters. It was a sequel to the 1932 Silly Symphony Santa’s Workshop, and was also known as Santa’s Toys. The short was directed by Wilfred Jackson.

In a small house, decorated for Christmas, several children are tucked into bed, waiting for Santa’s arrival. Santa soon arrives and makes his way effortlessly down the chimney, and sets up a tree for the toys. The toys then march out of his bag and make their way to their places under the tree. A group of toy soldiers uses cannons to decorate the tree with ornaments, while a toy plane wraps a garland of tinsel around the tree. Santa laughs merrily as he fills the stockings, and the toys celebrate the completion of a decorated tree. The children wake up and peek at Santa and the toys, and accidentally give themselves away when one boy sneezes. Santa quickly heads up the chimney, and the kids start playing with all their new toys. After hearing sleigh bells, the children look outside to see Santa flying off into the night.

October 19

October 19, 1955 – The Disney Anthology Episode “The Story of the Silly Symphony” Airs

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“Next week, Walt Disney brings you ‘The Story of the Silly Symphony.’”

On October 19, 1955, the episode of Disneyland entitled “The Story of the Silly Symphony” aired on ABC. The episode covered some of the more popular entries in the Silly Symphony line, including The Practical Pig, Three Orphan Kittens, Little Hiawatha, and The Old Mill, as well as the special short film Ferdinand the Bull. The episode was directed by Clyde Geronimi and written by Bill Peet. It is one of a select few episodes to cover the Silly Symphony line.

September 28

September 28, 1931 – The Silly Symphony The Clock Store Premieres in Theaters

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On September 28, 1931, the Silly Symphony The Clock Store premiered in theaters. It is also known by its copyright title In a Clock Store. One of the pocket-watches has familiar initials on its cover: W.E.D. The short was directed by Wilfred Jackson.

It’s late at night when an old man walks around the town, lighting the lamplights. He whistles a tune as he passes by a nearby clock store. Inside, the clocks are all ticking away, showing various times on their faces. A row of cuckoo clocks go off one after another, as do some alarm clocks, creating a simple melody. Different kinds of clocks and watches dance their own way to their peculiar rhythm, including a beautiful castle clock that features two figures around it hitting chimes, and two dancers on an elegant antique piece. Two alarm clocks end up in a fist fight thanks to the antics of a wall clock, with all the other clocks cheering the fight on. One clock knocks itself out, which the other clock is badly beaten.

September 7

September 7, 1929 – The Silly Symphony El Terrible Toreador is Released to Theaters

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On September 7, 1929, the Silly Symphony El Terrible Toreador was released to theaters. It was directed by Walt Disney, and features music from the opera Carmen by Georges Bizet.

The short opens with people eating in a cantina, with a waitress balancing a beer on her head as she wanders the floor. One soldier falls in love at first sight upon seeing her, and she dances about after he gives her a generous tip. El Terrible Toreador enters the cantina, and the soldier grabs for the waitress, though she works on fighting off his advances. The Toreador, angered at this lack of respect for the waitress, picks a fight with the soldier. The scene then moves to the bullfighting arena, where everyone cheers for the Toreador and the bull as they start to duke it out. The fight has many silly moments between the pair, including a game of patty-cake and a skipping dance. The waitress has a bouquet of flowers for the Toreador, but the soldier pours pepper over the flowers before she throws them. The bull smells the bouquet and sneezes his teeth out, which the Toreador uses to attack the bull. The bull is angered and, after his teeth return, charges at the Toreador. The Toreador wins the fight by pulling the bull inside out.