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The Clock Store

A Silly Symphony

Release Date : September 28, 1931

Running Time : 7:11

Synopsis

A lone lamplighter walks down the street lighting the streetlamps as he goes. He stops outside a clock store where, inside, the products perform their various alarms and dances. A fight breaks out between two alarm clocks (instigated by a wall clock) and everyone watches to see who will win.

Credits

Director
Wilfred Jackson
Animation
Johnny Cannon
Rodolfo "Rudy" Zamora
Charles Couch
Frenchy de Tremaudan
Joe D'Igalo
Cecil Surrey
Harry Reeves
Hardie Gramatky
Daniel Tattingham
Albert Hurter
Ben Sharpsteen
Charlie Byrne
Jack King
Asst. Animator
Ed Benedict
Backgrounds
Carlos Manriquez
Emil Flohri
Mique Nelson
Layout
Charles Philippi
Music
Frank Churchill

DVD

United States
Disney Treasures : More Silly Symphonies

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 18: A Bunch of Silly Symphonies
The Mickey Mouse Club : December 1, 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: September 28, 1931
    • Copyright date: October 7, 1931
    • New York opening: November 13, 1931
  • Also known as "In a Clock Store."
  • 1934's "The China Shop" is very nearly a color remake of this one; its two main characters (18th century porcelain dancers) make their first appearance here.

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : Silly Symphonies have often been talked about as the place where Walt Disney let his animators try new things and experiment with the animation form. Innovations like the multiplane camera and Technicolor started in the Silly Symphonies. You can see a bit of that starting in The Clock Store.

The thing that stuck out to me on watching The Clock Store is the sophistication of the figures. Sure, there is the simple, fun silly dancing that most of these shorts have contained. But there are also a couple of sequences that show some very amazing, lifelike figures, the most detailed and human looking figures to date.

The first of those is the set on the clock that does a fine ballroom dance. Not sure if it’s a prince or princess or what the characters are supposed to represent, but in the majority of their dance, they are stunning. The characters move with grace and poise, and have realistic flow and movement unlike anything that Mickey or Pluto have done. This is clearly a first step towards the human figures that will dominate the features, like Snow White herself.

The second set of figures is no less impressive. A little Dutch boy and girl dance on the front of a clock. When the boy turns to face the camera, his rounded face and clear expressions are better than the cartoon looks we have seen in the past. While not as “realistic” as the previous set, these two people look like just that, people.

That aside, The Clock Store follows in the tradition of Midnight in a Toy Shop, in showing a glimpse of life “behind the curtain,” so to speak. It takes us into the clock shop and we see what happens after hours. That’s a tradition that keeps up time after time in Disney storytelling, all the way through the Pixar films like Toy Story.

And just to show that you can’t un-watch things, the first thing I saw in this film, the old man wandering the street lighting lamps, reminded me of Dumbledore from the first Harry Potter film. It almost made me wonder if the filmmakers of Harry Potter saw this short, because the scenes are so similar. I doubt it, but it’s interesting to wonder.

The Clock Store to me, is an example of Disney animation at its finest. It shows the skill of the animators at creating amazing characters. It also allows them to have fun and diverge into silly dances and fun, playful characters. It’s kind of a “have your cake and eat it, too” type of short.


From Mac : One of the great things about Merritt and Kaufman's Silly Symphony Companion is you can learn where the ideas for certain shorts came from. In this instance it's the music itself. Contrary to what you'll hear on the DVD commentary (where all credit goes to Frank Churchill), nearly the whole cartoon is based around a piece of music by Charles Orth appropriately titled "In a Clock Store".

The opening, with the storybook village, really sets the scene for some nighttime magic. This atmosphere is held throughout the short with careful use of shadows, shading and effects. It's a lovely little cartoon and it's easy to see (or should that be hear) how the music inspired it.

A couple of little in-house references can be seen in this one. One watch, in the scene with the opening and closing pocket watches, has Walt Disney's initials, W.E.D, inscribed on it. Another has the initials H.G – surely a reference to the animator of the scene, Hardie Gramatky. It's quite a clever way of 'signing' his scene in an era when the animators were uncredited on screen.


From Jerry Edwards : I enjoy several scenes in this short - alarm clocks using their alarm bells to do a synchronized ringing of the bells (like Christmas bells) Victorian man and woman clock figurines dancing and Grandfather and Grandmother clocks dancing. What appeals to me most about this short is the unusual, outstanding animation at the very beginning of the short - an old white-bearded man is shown lighting gas street lamps - very nicely done indeed!
From Milan Brandon : This short is delightful.

At minute 2:25 (according to the Walt Disney Treasure: More Silly Symphonies DVD), a pocket watch with the initials WED (Walter Elias Disney) can be seen on the second watch from the left as plain as day.

The bearded old man lighting the lanterns was a nice touch.


From Matthew Cooper : Normally, I don't like the black and white cartoons, but this one I do. It is very similar to "The China Shop" (another favorite of mine,) but I am not a fan of the ending. The clock who started that fight between the two alarm clocks was naughty! Mostly I like this cartoon because of the music but all in all it is very good for the 1930's!

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