Watch Online

Night

A Silly Symphony

Release Date : April 28, 1930

Running Time : 6:52

Synopsis

The appearance of a full moon over the old mill pond inspires much comic "bad singing" amongst the flora and fauna living there.

Credits

Director
Walt Disney
Animation
Les Clark
Jack King
Johnny Cannon
Tom Palmer
Norm Ferguson
Wilfred Jackson
Dave Hand
Backgrounds
Carlos Manriquez
Emil Flohri
Music
Bert Lewis

DVD

United States
Disney Treasures : More Silly Symphonies

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 55: Oooh! Scary!
The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 29: Goin' Outside with the Silly Symphonies
Mickey's Mouse Tracks: Episode 25
The Mickey Mouse Club : December 30, 1955

Technical Specification

Color Type: Black & White
Animation Type: Standard animation
Sound Mix: Mono : Cinephone
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Negative Format: 35mm
Print Format: 35mm
Cinematographic Process: Spherical
Original Language: English

Released by Columbia Pictures, Inc.

Comments

  • Copyright Date : May 6, 1930; New York Opening : June 12, 1930

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : Cannibal Capers, the first Silly Symphony cartoon after the departure of Ub Iwerks, was a very different cartoon, featuring some nifty camera moves, less reliance on animals and silly dances, and some disturbing subject matter. Apparently that didn’t work, because the latest Silly Symphony, Night, is a return to previous form.

I’d almost classify Night as an unofficial part of the “Four Seasons” quartet of Silly Symphonies, because it falls very much in that same vein. This time, rather than a season, the short examines what happens as the moon rises over a pond. Of course, it’s all set to music, but there’s a slight difference in this short.

The short’s tone is set right off the bat by a full moon rising over the pond, that then turns into a buck toothed singer. The moon’s singing is comically bad, and that sets the stage for a plethora of off key singing to follow. We get bad songs from owls, mosquitoes and frogs, all involved in activities of love or pursuit of happiness.

The action flows from scene to scene very well, much in the same way that it did in Springtime or Autumn. We go from the moon to the owl flying over the scenery, to the lightning bugs flying by, to mosquitoes underneath and finally to the frogs the mosquitoes try to sting. It’s very fluid and gives the short a nice sense of being a continuous short instead of a collection of gags.

I’d be remiss if I did not note the artistic merit of the opening scene, showing the long shot of the moon rising over the pond. It’s a beautiful piece of work, and the reeds and waves on the pond move and sway in time with the music. That just makes it all the more entertaining when the camera zooms in to the moon and it turns around to reveal its silly face.

Another interesting bit was the lightning bugs, who at first perform a dance in the sky, alternately lighting up to do a nice light show. But next, we see two bugs performing a vaudeville soft shoe. I can only imagine that these two bugs are pulled right out of Walt’s head, reflecting back on his days as a kid performing vaudeville with Walt Pfeiffer. Just an interesting peek into Walt’s psyche, I think.

We also see in this short the return of the frog from Springtime. It was noted then that this frog was similar to Flip the Frog, who would later become Ub Iwerks’ cartoon star. The frog is back here, and one has to assume it was based on the same model sheets that Ub developed for the previous short. I wonder if we’ll see him again, after Flip the Frog has debuted?

Night is entertaining, but it does feel somewhat like a retread. The gags are good, but not as funny as in other shorts. It feels very much part of the “Four Seasons” group, as I mentioned above. I think Walt and his crew did a great job of animation on Night, but could have used a little more humor to make this one truly great.


From Mac : I felt the same way as you that this one is very much akin to the seasons shorts we've seen so far. In fact, it's so close in feel that it's surprising to know that Iwerks and Stalling are no longer at the studio.

Original prints of this cartoon were printed on blue stock giving this short a blue-tinted appearance. I think that this would have really helped with the nighttime atmosphere of this cartoon especially in the scenes that aren't that dark. Of course Iwerks' was easily able to top this blue-tint effect with his first Flip cartoon Fiddlesticks a few months later which was made in two-strip technicolor.

In fact this short has a really similar scene to Fiddlesticks. Not only is there the Flip-like frog, but he does a walking-dance across the lily pads, croaking in time to the music. The frog even taps his feet atop a turtle in both scenes. Also the Frog in Night has a girlfriend just like Flip in another early Iwerks cartoon Puddle Pranks.

It's worth comparing the opening sequence of "Fiddlesticks" to the first frog scene in Night. I think there are too many close similarities for it all to be just be a coincidence. Maybe this scene had been discussed at the Disney studio before Iwerks and Stalling left?


From Rod Bennett : I believe it's Walt himself, starring as the Moon, who butchers Strauss' "Beautiful Blue Danube" Waltz. (Can anyone else confirm?)
From Katie Salt : I am a big fan of the Disney shorts. I have several of the laserdiscs like "Mickey Mouse: The Black and White Years." My favorite shorts, however, are the Silly Symphonies. I am also a huge fan of classical music so watching this short was quite fun and I was sure to get it on tape.
From Jerry Edwards : Musical nighttime frolics of owls, fireflies, frogs, and other inhabitants of an old mill pond. The basic idea was later expanded into the classic cartoon The Old Mill (1937). One odd part of the cartoon is the singing moon, which only has one tooth. The voice sounds a bit like Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse voice of the time. The silliness of this moon animation scene just doesn't fit well with the rest of the cartoon. But still one of my favorite Silly Symphony cartoons.
From Ryan : I find this to be quite an enjoyable cartoon. It opens with a shot of a mill pond and cattails swaying in the gentle breeze to the tune of the "Blue Danube." As posted in previous comments, the moon's jolly facial expression does not fit in with the rest of the cartoon. I enjoy the animation and the background art of this cartoon. I also noticed that the frog looked similar to Flip the Frog, a character who would be created by Ub Iwerks that same year.

Referenced Comments