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Tag Archives: Silly Symphony

June 21

June 21, 1930 – The Silly Symphony Frolicking Fish is Released to Theaters


On June 21, 1930, the Silly Symphony Frolicking Fish was released to theaters. It was directed by Burt Gillett.

The short begins at the bottom of the sea, with several different kinds of fish roaming the sea floor. One fish uses an anchor as its personal playground, while another group of fish dance around a treasure chest, unaware that it is occupied by an octopus. It jumps out and attempts to capture the fish, but is unable to capture a single one. The octopus spies on a group of sea creatures dancing and playing makeshift instruments, when a group of fish decide to bounce around on bubbles. They pass by the octopus, who takes great joy in popping the bubbles one by one. He manages to capture one poor fish caught in a bubble, but the fish is able to escape, just barely. The fish saves itself by dropping an anchor on the octopus’ head, knocking the ink out of him.

April 17

April 17, 1957 – The Disneyland Anthology Series Episode “More About the Silly Symphonies” Airs on ABC


“Actually, the Silly Symphonies were started as an experiment. We used them to test and perfect the color and animation techniques we employed later in full-length feature pictures like Cinderella, Snow White, and Fantasia.”

On April 17, 1957, the episode “More About the Silly Symphonies” from the Disneyland anthology series aired on ABC. The episode is a continuation about the Silly Symphony line of short films, with the first episode, “The Story of the Silly Symphony” airing on October 19, 1955. The episode was directed by Clyde Geronimi.

The episode begins with Walt looking through some fanmail, telling the audience that he continually gets asked questions about the Silly Symphonies. He then reads a letter about the Silly Symphony Waterbabies, which was made in 1938; the short film itself was inspired by the 1863 story of the same name by Charles Kingsley. The scene then turns into an animated retelling of Kingsley telling the story he created to his son. The short itself begins to play. This is then followed by Walt reading a letter about the short film The Grasshopper and the Ants (1934), which traces its tale back to ancient times. The history of fables then begins in Ancient China, followed by Egypt, then finishing up with Aesop, before moving in to the 1934 short film. The third short Walt covers is Chanticleer the Rooster, who was heavily featured in the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer, as well as the Middle Ages classic Reynard the Fox. The Chanticleer stories inspired the 1938 short film Farmyard Symphony, which soon begins to play. After this, Walt introduces nursery rhymes, citing them as a big source of inspiration for the Silly Symphonies. He shows the audience a tiny book called Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book, which contains several well-known verses and rhymes, including Who Killed Cock Robin. Walt then goes into the supposed meaning of the verse, which was meant to have been written about the rise and fall of Sir Robert Walpole. In 1934, Disney created a Silly Symphony based on the verse, satirizing many well-known celebrities of the time. The final Silly Symphony presented is based on Eugene Field’s well known children’s verse Wynken, Blynken, and Nod (originally known as Dutch Lullaby).

March 10

March 10, 1938 – Disney Wins Two Academy Awards for The Old Mill and the Multiplane Camera

Special Academy Award_1938

On March 10, 1938, the 10th Academy Awards were held at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Disney’s groundbreaking short film The Old Mill, which was the first use of the multiplane camera and features realistic depictions of nature, won the Academy Award for Best Short Film, beating Paramount’s Color Classic Educated Fish and Columbia’s The Little Match Girl. The use of the multiplane on this short served as a testing ground for work on the feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Creators of the multiplane camera were further honored at this ceremony by winning a special Academy Scientific and Technical Award

January 16

January 16, 1932 – The Silly Symphony The Bird Store is Released to Theaters


On January 16, 1932, the Silly Symphony The Bird Store was released to theaters. It was directed by Wilfred Jackson. Caricatures of the Marx Brothers are also found in this short film

The short begins with the birds in the store all chirping at once, but slowly turning into a beautiful melody by two canaries. Other birds are seen singing in their own ways, including two sets of doves that find their mates flirting with others. A parrot chases a flea to a typewriter, and flicks it away, but scares itself in the process and runs into the phone. Outside the window of the shop, a hungry cat licks its lips, watching as a baby canary is taught how to sign by its parents. While celebrating, the baby falls out into a bag of seed, and does not see the cat enter the shop and attack. All the birds in the shop notice the attack, and in an attempt to save the baby, they all spring into action, using a blowtorch to trap the cat in a cage. They then send his cage flying so he lands in the city dog pound after reuniting the baby with its parents.

December 19

December 19, 1936 – The Silly Symphony More Kittens is Released to Theaters


On December 19, 1936, the Silly Symphony More Kittens was released to theaters. It was a sequel to the Academy Award winning Silly Symphony Three Orphan Kittens. Both shorts were directed by Dave Hand. The popular song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” makes a cameo appearance in this short.

The three orphan kittens are thrown out of a house, and hide in a nearby bloodhound’s doghouse. The bloodhound notices that one of the kittens has fallen into its bowl of milk, and rescues it before drinking the contents. As the kittens brush up against the bloodhound’s face affectionately, their tails tickle its nose and it sneezes, sending two of the kittens flying into the yard. The kittens look around, confused, as they realize they’ve landed on something moving, and look down to find themselves riding on the back of a turtle. The turtle itself is surprised and falls down the stairs, with the turtle and kittens tumbling about. The third kitten has been resting on the bloodhound’s back, when it chases a fly on the bloodhound’s nose. The bloodhound is bugged by the fly and tries to swat it, finally getting it with its ears. The kitten stalks the fly after it lands, and ends up falling on the turtle. The kitten and the turtle fight before the turtle turns tail and walks away.

The bird mocks the kitten for not only missing the turtle, but being unable to attack him as well

The bird mocks the kitten for not only missing the turtle, but being unable to catch him as well

A bird mocks the kitten for losing to the turtle, and it turns its attention on the bird, pouncing and trying to attack it. The bird and the kitten end up within the bloodhound’s mouth, fighting, although the kitten gets pushed out, and the bird whistles triumphantly. The bird finally leaves the bloodhound’s mouth, and all three kittens chase after it, with two ending up in the laundry basket, and one on the clothesline. In the end, the kittens gets swept away when they knock over the washing bucket, and end up at the front door of the house, alerting the maid. Furious, she chases after the kittens, and they three ends up at the bloodhound’s once again, where it hides the kittens from the angry maid. The short ends with the bloodhound adopting the kittens, and they give it grateful kisses.

December 9

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


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.

November 19

November 19, 1932 – The Silly Symphony Babes in the Woods is Released to Theaters


“Once upon a time a story was told about fairies and goblins and witches who are bold…”

On November 19, 1932, the Silly Symphony Babes in the Woods was released to theaters. It was based on the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel. The short was directed by Burt Gillett.

The short begins with two children wander into the woods on a summer’s day, and are terrified by the strange sights they see. As they hurry along, they hear a strange noise, and look through the trees to find where the elves live. The children are welcomes with open arms, and the elves begin to play a merry song and dance around the children. Just as the celebration begins, the shadow of the Witch circles overhead, and the elves try to hide the children in their home. However, the witch offers the children a ride on her broom, and they accept without knowing the danger. They head to her candy house and start eating as much as they can, but once she gets them inside, she traps them in with the other children she had turned into lizards and bats. The two get caught in a spider web, and she turns the boy into a spider before she chains him up. She prepares to change the girl into rat when an arrow knocks the bottle of potion out of her hand. As the witch goes to see who fired the arrow, she traps the girl in a compartment under the floor. The elves trick the witch into leaving the house, and the boy saves the girl from the compartment, knocking over a bottle and turning back into a boy in the process. While the witch is occupied, the children go around turning all the other creatures back into children, and they all flee the house, pulling out her cauldron with them. The witch is pulled from her broom and lands in her cauldron, which was filled with a potion to turn things to stone. In the end, this story explains the origins of the mysterious Old Witch Rock in the woods.

October 31

October 31, 1936 – The Silly Symphony The Country Cousin is Released to Theaters


“Come to the city and live in splendor with me.”

October 31, 1936, the Silly Symphony The Country Cousin was released to theaters. It would go on to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 9th Academy Awards. The short was directed by Wilfred Jackson.

The short begins with Abner Countrymouse receiving an invitation from his cousin Monty Citymouse, asking him to live in the city. Abner, taking Monty up on his offer, walks the railroad tracks and arrives at Monty’s place, with Monty quickly – but quietly – showing him around. Right away, Abner nearly gets caught in a mousetrap, but Monty saves him before showing him a spread of the finest foods laid out. Abner enthusiastically eats away, but Monty has to continue shushing the poor country bumpkin. After eating a spoonful of hot mustard, Abner rushes around and drinks some champagne to cool down his mouth, getting painfully drunk in the process and hiccupping. He tries to pull himself together, much to the annoyance of Monty, but ends up losing his umbrella in some toast points and knocking the entire stack down. Abner then ends up in a drunken fight with his reflection in a gelatin mold; although he decides to walk away from the fight, he slips on some butter on a plate and spins wildly around, breaking pieces of china as he spins out of control and taking his cousin with him. The two luckily do not garner the attention of the house cat, who is sleeping soundly, until Abner, with his drunken bravado, decides to kick the cat. Monty flees the scene, while Abner runs outside and ends up on the dangerous streets. After dodging feet and cars, Abner decides city life isn’t worth it for him, and he runs back to his country home.

October 30

October 30, 1930 – The Silly Symphony Winter is Released to Theaters


On October 30, 1930, the Silly Symphony Winter was released to theaters. It was the last of a series of shorts dedicated to the seasons. It was directed by Burt Gillett.

It’s a blustery winter’s night, and a wolf howls into the wind. Three bears are sleeping under a giant rock formation, and the trees dance while the snow falls around them. A quartet of birds sing as they are perched on a reindeer’s antlers, and fly away as the reindeer gets up to go ice skating. Several other woodland creatures appear to dance in the snow, and one cub starts playing pranks on a sleeping bear. Unfortunately, the bear wakes up, but then starts to dance himself. A moose joins in the fun, braying loudly before joining a group of animals that are waiting for the Weather Prophet, Mr. Groundhog, to emerge from his house. He finally steps outside, covering his eyes, and looks around, unable to see his shadow. The animals dance at this news, when the sun suddenly shines, and the groundhog is spooked by his shadow. The shadow disappears once the sun is hidden by the clouds again, and another large storm brews, sending all the animals back to their homes as fast as can be.

October 24

October 24, 1929 – The Silly Symphony Springtime is Released to Theaters


On October 24, 1929, the Silly Symphony Springtime was released to theaters. It was the first in a series of Silly Symphonies about the seasons, followed by Summer (January 16, 1930), Autumn (February 15, 1930), and Winter (October 30, 1930). Springtime was directed by Walt Disney.

The flowers, trees, and bugs are all dancing around, enjoying the fair spring weather. A crow comes along and eats a dancing caterpillar, dancing away itself back to its nest, where his sweetheart is waiting. Her babies hatch and start dancing around the nest. Suddenly, a large storm develops, and one tree is seen taking a bath in the rain when he is struck by lightning. The storm quickly passes, and two grasshoppers are seen playing leapfrog when they are eaten by a frog. The frog jumps from lily pad to lily pad, with another frog playing a tune on the backs of turtles. A spider jumps down from his web and dances on a nearby log before using his web as a harp. Three frogs begin dancing on a log, croaking with the music, when a nearby crane spies them and stalks its way over. It attempts to eat the frogs, when they jump inside each other like nesting dolls and flee, but the crane eats them all and jumps away happily, although he falls into a large puddle, splashing water onto the screen.