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Mother Goose Melodies

A Silly Symphony

Release Date : April 16, 1931

Running Time : 8:10

Synopsis

Old King Cole summons various storybook characters to life for his entertainment and a dance.

Characters

Cat (With the Fiddle)
Cow (Who Jumped Over the Moon)
Humpty Dumpty
Jack and Jill
Little Jack Horner
Little Bo Peep (1)
Little Boy Blue (1)
Little Miss Muffett
Mother Goose
Old King Cole
Simple Simon
Three Blind Mice (1)

Credits

Director
Bert Gillett
Animation
Johnny Cannon
Les Clark
Norm Ferguson
Rodolfo "Rudy" Zamora
Ben Sharpsteen
Dave Hand
Jack King
Dick Lundy
Tom Palmer
Backgrounds
Carlos Manriquez
Emil Flohri
Music
Bert Lewis
Frank Churchill
Voices
Marion Darlington

DVD

United States
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Germany
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
France
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Italy
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Sweden
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
United Kingdom
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 49: More Storybook Silly Symphonies
The Mickey Mouse Club : November 21, 1955

Technical Specification

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

Released by Columbia Pictures, Inc.

Comments

    • Announced release: April 16, 1931
    • Copyright date: April 23, 1931
    • Chicago opening: May 1, 1931

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : The Silly Symphonies started as a way to let the animators create new characters and have some free form fun while setting the animation to music. The evolution of the shorts after Carl Stalling and Ub Iwerks left the studio was very stilted, with a few jumps into emphasizing story and a few shorts pushing music. With Mother Goose Melodies, it seems the Silly Symphonies have reached “maturity.”

Based on the Silly Symphonies shorts I have seen after this, Mother Goose Melodies seems like a turning point in the series. Much has been made here of the emphasis on story vs. music, but this short emphasizes both in equal measure, and creates an extremely compelling and funny cartoon.

This short sets up a framework that literally opens the book to many different vignettes. The idea is that Old King Cole is settling in on his throne, then calls for Mother Goose to bring forth his book to show him some new stories. Mother Goose serves as the introduction then to many of our favorite nursery rhymes.

Once the book is opened, the short becomes a series of snapshots of famous nursery rhymes, sometimes long and sometimes only a few seconds’ worth. Everything from Little Miss Muffett, Lil Jack Horner and Jack and Jill are done, along with many, many others. Each one features great gags, such as the spider in Little Miss Muffett. It does the same action as the spider in Hells Bells, swinging towards the camera and “swallowing” it, but it is still a great gag.

The best gag, though, involves the book itself. The tales never leave the page of the book, much like would be done much later in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Mother Goose turns the pages, and the camera will zoom in on a page until it fills the screen, but the action of the nursery rhymes never escapes the book, until the climax of the short. Even when Jack and Jill fall down the hill, they slam headlong into the page and don’t fall out.

There are some interesting cameos here, as well. In the beginning we see Clarabelle laying flowers before Old King Cole’s arrival. The parade sequence at the beginning of this short involves small mice much like were used to presage Mickey in the Oswald shorts. It’s also a theme we’ll see again in other shorts, of the side scrolling parade of gags coming into view.

The fun climax of the short upends the book, spilling the characters out into the “real” world with mass chaos ensuing. It ends up being a musical finale, which is very fitting. This short moves so quickly, switching from story to story, that it really holds up today with our shorter attention spans. It’s extremely funny, and bears multiple watchings to catch all the gags packed into each frame. Each story has small touches that you will not catch the first time around. This one is highly recommended.


From Mac : I'm glad you enjoyed this one so much. Watching in order with your blog has made me realize what a stand out cartoon this is. Thanks to the music, the scene is set during the titles which leads to a grand opening procession, heralding in a new era of Disney cartoons! This one really is something new with lots of actual singing – not just dancing to music.

This one may be the first Silly Symphony to use composer Frank Churchill (In Merritt and Kaufman's book it says it could be either him or Bert Lewis or both). There seem to be a slightly different feel to the music in this one so I'm inclined to think Churchill was involved.

One other cameo to look out for is the spider from Midnight in a Toyshop playing the part of the spider that frightens Miss Muffet. At first it's difficult to recognize him as he plays at looking 'ferocious', but when he starts eating the curds and whey it's obviously him.


From Jerry Edwards : The Mother Goose characters come to life to entertain Old King Cole with their nursery rhymes. The general story was remade as the 1933 short Old King Cole. I just didn't get anything out of this short - nothing special to me.
From Ryan : This is one of two (the other being Mother Goose Goes Hollywood) Mother Goose themed cartoons produced by Disney. I don't care too much for this cartoon. I find the dancing and singing getting a little tiring for me. The later 1938 classic Mother Goose Goes Hollywood is much better. On a side note, the background sequence and the animation was reused in the Mickey Mouse short Parade of the Award Nominees.
From Lasse Persson : Wonderful nonsense film. Together with The Skeleton Dance the best of the Silly Symphonies. Perfect dance animation. Pure entertainment!
From Gijs Grob : By taking the "sing-and-dance routine"-concept to the max, this cartoon offers singing and dancing nursery rhymes. It's just that: no story, no gags, no characters and a lot of repetitive animation. Although the cartoon is very joyous, I found it one of the most boring ones Disney ever made; even in its kind: contemporal Silly Symphonies consisting of sing-and-dance routines like The Skeleton Dance, The China Plate and Egyptian Melodies are much more fun to watch.

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