MORE SILLY SYMPHONIES - Two-Disc DVD Set, Foster Children's Section
A title in Leonard Maltin's series of Walt Disney TREASURES DVD sets is "Disney Rarities" but Foster has another Maltin rarity in the 2-disc (now out-of-print) MORE SILLY SYMPHONIES. This is a collection of now-rare short cartoons, mostly from the 1930s which, along with the more celebrated Mickey Mouse shorts, laid the groundwork for the first features and the Disney mega-empire of today.
Collectively the shorts may also be seen as a history of early 20th century cinema, embracing innovations such as sound, color, and precise muscial synchronization (The 1930s were an era of remarkable technical progress in Hollywood).
The early Symphonies (like the first Mickeys) are in black-and-white, and were launched by SKELETON DANCE in 1929 when Disney wanted to showcase music more than was possible in the Mickey shorts. Though SKELETON DANCE is not in this collection, HELL'S BELLS, a somewhat bizarre short from 1929, provides a key example of the crude but energetic style of this period. Also from 1929 is THE MERRY DWARFS, a key example of early musical camp.
The early 1930s ushered in the first Technicolor shorts. The Sillys drew on a variety of source material from classic fairy and folk tales to myths and legends. THE GODDESS OF SPRING (1934), based on the Greek myth of Persephone, is a virtual mini-opera in which all the dialogue is sung. MOTHER GOOSE GOES HOLLYWOOD, from 1938, features movie star caricatures which adult movie buffs (of a certain age) will find amusing.
But there's a variety of silliness, amazingly detailed, ground-breaking animation, and excellent music to be discovered by kids and adults alike in this marvelous set. And be sure to listen to the commentaries, some of which are voiced-over by yours truly.
Staff member - Ross