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Woodland Café

A Silly Symphony

Release Date : March 13, 1937

Running Time : 7:37

Synopsis

One of the liveliest Silly Symphonies featuring a Café full of jitterbugging bugs.

Credits

Director
Wilfred Jackson
Asst. Director
Graham Heid
Animation
Cy Young
Johnny Cannon
Izzy Klein
Bob Stokes
Dick Lundy
Paul Allen
Charlie Byrne
Jack Hannah
Ward Kimball
Layout
Terrell Stapp
John Walbridge
Story
Bianca Marjolie
Music
Leigh Harline
Voices
Clarrie Collins
Jimmie Cushman
Marie Dickerson
C. B. Johnson
James Miller
Thelma Porter
Eddie Printz
Duke Upshaw

Cut Scenes

A lot of selective editing in this short. A black doorman and some black grasshoppers have been edited out. Also, a scene of a female fly smoking, although a shot of a male fly smoking has not been cut.

Video

United States
Cartoon Classics : Limited Gold Editions I : Silly Symphonies
Germany
Walt Disneys Musikhitparade
France
Silly Symphonies Volume 2
Italy
Silly Symphonies
Cartoon Classics : Limited Gold Editions I : Silly Symphonies

CED

United States
Limited Gold Editions - Silly Symphonies

Laserdiscs

Japan
Silly Symphonies : Limited Gold Editions

DVD

United States
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Classic Cartoon Favorites : Volume 6 : Extreme Music Fun
Germany
Musik Spass Superstars
Italy
Extreme Music Fun
Canada
Classic Cartoon Favorites : Volume 6 : Extreme Music Fun

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 38: Infested Silly Symphonies
Mickey's Mouse Tracks: Episode 65
Donald's Quack Attack: Episode 37
The Mickey Mouse Club : October 26, 1956

Technical Specification

Color Type: Technicolor
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 United Artists Pictures

Comments

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : We’re back to the Silly Symphonies with Woodland Café, and I can’t say that it’s a welcome return. When I looked at my list of shorts, this was not one I was familiar with, and frankly, was not looking forward to watching it. I watched it through, and didn’t get it. So, I started doing some research.

With a little more digging, Woodland Café made more sense to me. But, that means that as a whole, it doesn’t hold up nearly as well as the Mickey shorts of earlier in 1937, or even some of the other Silly Symphonies.

What did I have to go digging for? Well, to be honest, the whole thing didn’t make much sense. The short opens with a group of bugs heading into a bug nightclub, and they spend the entire short dancing and enjoying the music of the band. And that’s it. It would be fine if there were some great gags or standout sequences, but there’s nothing that big about it.

It seemed odd. So I started searching for more info on the short, and things fell into place. During the time this short was released, a popular form of film was a feature showing white stars traveling to Harlem to see the “new” music coming from stars like Cab Galloway and others. This short is a take off of that.

As I said, it doesn’t hold up for that reason. The effort that it took me to figure it out made it difficult for me to enjoy the short, even after a second viewing. However, there are some things that were interesting.

The whole club scene set up is reminiscent of something you would see in a Tex Avery or Warner Bros short. And that’s not the only thing that seems non-Disney. Towards the end of the short, the sequence where the band is playing reminded me a great deal of Chuck Jones’ Dr. Seuss work. We see various weird shaped instruments playing against rapidly changing color backgrounds. This reminded me right away of things like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, when the Whos are playing their instruments at the beginning of the film.

The whole short has a sort of Chuck Jones/Warner vibe to it. There’s no through line or story like we had in some of the earlier 1937 Disney shorts, and there’s no standout character. Instead, it’s a series of dancing, bands and some gags, wrapped up in a seven and a half minute package.

Woodland Café isn’t a bad short. The animation work is good, the backgrounds are nice and the music is very good. But it doesn’t have anything particularly memorable or fun that makes it measure up to the rest of the Disney films in this era.


From Mac : Once again we've reached a Silly Symphony that you don't like, but I just love! Even amongst the excellent shorts we've been watching recently, I consider this one a highlight. To me it's just a wonderful piece of colorful musical entertainment.
From Rod Bennett : [This short is] a spoof of the "Harlem" musicals of the day in which broad-minded white folk from Lower Manhattan journey uptown in order to experience the hot new "forbidden" sounds of Cab Callaway, etc.
From Jerry Edwards : Generally uninteresting cartoon for me, except that it contains numerous black stereotypes - most of which the Disney Channel showings censor. I do enjoy some of the caricatures of Hollywood celebrities of that time. I do get a kick out of the "male chauvinism" of the censorship of one scene. In a dance routine with a female fly and a male spider, both are shown smoking. But the female fly's smoking scene is censored, but the male spider's smoking is not censored. Very odd, since Disney has censored most smoking scenes from their shorts.
From T. J. Lynch : I've seen this short a number of times over the past 20 years and I've never grown tired of it. The energy and good humor of the animation and music have always lifted my spirits. The quick editing and flashing colors of the backgrounds must have seemed pretty radical back in the 1930s. I may get in trouble here, but I find the caricatures of the African American musicians affectionate rather than offensive (I have seen 1930s and 40s cartoons where the caricatures are indeed offensive, like in some of the MGM and Walter Lantz cartoons of the time). Also, for an updated version of this cartoon, check out the 1989 picture book "Nicholas Cricket" by Joyce Maxner and William Joyce . It was definitely influenced.
From Baruch Weiss : This is one of my favorite Silly Symphonies because of its music. It must have inspired the movie "A Bugs Life" and it reminds me somewhat of the 1935 classic Mickeys Garden!
From Kyle Peters : It is an interesting cartoon. A surprising Silly Symphony.
From Matthew Cooper : One of my favorite Silly Symphonies! the swing-music and the colorful, dancing bugs go great together? My favorite scenes are when a waiter pulls a stem off a cherry and pours the juice out into glasses for an elderly bee and his date and the show between a rather sexy-looking female fly and a tough-looking male spider. The latter has always seemed like a rendition of The Spider and the Fly to me (the story of course, not the old black-and-white Disney short.) Although I have never seen the censored version of that, it seems strange to me that they did not cut out the spider smoking, but only the fly. Lastly, I agree with the person that said the black-stereotype cricket musicians seem affectionate rather than offensive because there were black-jazzers and singers in that century. It seems to me that cutting out those black crickets ruins a big part of the short because after the S&F show, they jazz it up and dance and sing for the rest of the cartoon. Note: When the "Ugly Bug Ball" song from the Disney live-action film "Summer Magic" was used on the "Bare Necessities" sing-along video, the original movie clip (except for a brief shot of the live action caterpillar the characters are looking at) was replaced by clips from this short (and one brief clip from Mickey's Garden of the bugs coming up from the ground.)

Referenced Comments