The Night Before Christmas (1933)

The Night Before Christmas ReviewThe Night Before Christmas Review

The Night Before Christmas is a 1933 Disney Silly Symphony film. It is a clich├ęd Silly Symphony.

This is the sequel to ‘Santa’s Workshop’ and it is better than that movie, but only slightly. Santa is much less present and less annoying which was pleasant to see. But still the elves are replaced with children and the children are just not that memorable. And of course you’ve got that awful chimney scene which is so racist.

I found The Night Before Christmas to be a pleasant and solid film, but again nowhere near as charming or as magical as a Christmas movie should be really. Its animation and score are solid, but far from great and the overall film is too long for its very slight and ultimately uneventful plot.

The Night Before Christmas is a solid sequel with some pleasant moments, but not enough charm and it is overlong for its slight plot.

My Rating – 3.5

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Top Ten Silly Symphonies

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Top Ten Silly Symphonies

Disney’s Silly Symphonies are such a wonderful cartoon series. There are 75 animated shorts in this series and most are pretty good with some being timeless classics. They show great artistry at Disney and it was very interesting following the rise of sophisticated animation during this period in time for the studio. There are quite a lot of great entries so I wanted to include as many as possible here so that’s why the honorable mentions got more entries than usual.

 

 

10. The Golden Touch

I do not understand Walt’s dissatisfaction with this one. It surely is a very underrated flick which does have weaker than usual songs, but such a good animation, excellent main character, a very good plot and a couple of quote memorable scenes. The highlight is of course its message which is great for kids.

 

9. Who Killed Cock Robin?

This movie isn’t the best of its type, but it surely is a one of a kind, different Disney flick that stands on its own. Its parody of Mae West is hilarious, the film is full of energy and it is filled with catchy songs. It is such a zany, incredibly weird and refreshingly adult film that was unlike anything that Disney had done up to that point. Its ending is so funny with that sexual innuendo.

 

8. The Flying Mouse

I just loved this one. The Flying Movie is superbly well crafted not just in animation which is wonderful, but also in terms of storytelling as its story is so well told and the film is quite dramatic and dark at times. The message of nature’s power and self-acceptance is terrific and it is one of those Silly Symphonies that every child should watch.

 

7. Mother Goose Goes Hollywood

And this is the movie that even trumps Who Killed Cock Robin? as it truly is a blast. It doesn’t have a plot, but it has a joke after joke and most do hit and if you know at least some of these famous people from the thirties, you are bound to get a laugh. To me Great Garbo is one of the highlights and also Katharine Hepburn whose accent is hilarious. It is such a wild, crazy movie that ultimately works thanks to great humor and animation.

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6. The Grasshopper and the Ants

And now we arrive to the classics and by that I mean famous stories that were gloriously adapted by Silly Symphonies and thus got immortal. The Grasshopper and the Ants is well made technically as its animation is truly terrific, but the message that you should work for yourself is great for children. It is such a well told, spotless flick that only needed a less happy ending.

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5. The Ugly Duckling

This timeless tale from Hans Christian Andersen got a great treatment by Disney. The animation is truly gorgeous as it came out in 1939 which was the last year for the series. The score is also pretty wonderful. But it its adorable factor with the duckling as well as a heartwarming ending that make it a classic that it is.

Image result for the ugly duckling 1939 gif

 

4. Ferdinand the Bull

Who doesn’t love Ferdinand the Bull? A tale of a bull who doesn’t want to fight, but just wants to smell flowers is a terrific message story that should only prove more relatable as time goes by. Couple its great story and an unforgettable protagonist with a simply gorgeous animation and such skilful cinematography and you’ve got a charmer for the ages.

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3. The Wise Little Hen

The Wise Little Hen is important for introducing Donald Duck to the world, but even more important in its again great message for kids and should be watched by every child as it teaches them to bi nice and share with others. The film is definitely quite funny and with a great ending and such a catchy score.

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2. The Tortoise and the Hare

That hare is truly insufferable and his eventual defeat by the tortoise only further strengthens an already great conclusion to this great film which is message-heavy but still important and superbly crafted on every level from the animation to the voice acting and terrific pacing. An undisputed classic.

Image result for the tortoise and the hare gif

 

1. Three Little Pigs

With an irresistibly catchy classic song Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?, groundbreaking character development in animation, gorgeous visuals and a superb scene after scene, Three Little Pigs is truly a classic for the ages. Its message about hard work is importance, but so is its place in the history of animation as the first truly accomplished animated short both in terms of characterization and story. I love this movie so much and it is in fact the best animated short of them all in my opinion.

Image result for three little pigs gif

Honorable Mentions:

Babes in the Woods – A very good, yet still somewhat different than usual adaptation of Hansel and Gretel, Babes in the Woods is so well told and suitably dark tonally.

The Practical Pig – So well plotted and scored, but absolutely hilarious in its clever and unexpected ending, this truly is the best Three Little Pigs sequel.

Three Little Wolves – Another great Three Little Pigs sequel, Three Little Wolves features such memorable wolf cubs and a phenomenally well crafted ending with that contraption.

Just Dogs – This one is a great short for every dog lover with a skilled animation for its time, many well depicted dog species and a pretty good humor.

Music Land – Not as great as it could have been, but still very good, Music Land is unique in plot, gorgeous in animation and ultimately a pretty bold, successful experiment.

Egyptian Melodies – As the earliest Silly Symphony on my list, Egyptian Melodies stands shoulders above its contemporaries thanks to highly inventive animation and a great setting.

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The Ugly Duckling (1931)

The Ugly Duckling ReviewThe Ugly Duckling Review

The Ugly Duckling is a 1931 Disney Silly Symphony film. It’s a solid but far from great adaptation.

This is the only Silly Symphony which got a remake as this tale was told twice by Disney. I found the 1939 version much superior to this one because it is more faithful to the original tale and more grounded in reality. This one is quite out there in its story and scenarios which wasn’t my cup of tea.

You still get the heartbreaking drama here and the titular protagonist is lovable and it was sad seeing him get rejected by his mother. The beginning was definitely very good and the ending is sweet. But that waterfall action scene was way too implausible and cartoony and the duckling was too heroic and thus the message was somewhat lost in the process. The animation is solid though and the score is so good and quite moving.

The 1931 Ugly Duckling has its moments and a very good score, but is too implausible and too unfaithful to the source material.

My Rating – 3.6

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Cock o’ the Walk (1935)

Cock o' the Walk ReviewCock o’ the Walk Review

Cock o’ the Walk is a 1935 Silly Symphony. It is a pretty atypical entry for the series.

And by that I mean that it doesn’t represent the series well. The plot where cocks fight for hens and all those sexual dances and innuendos is something that reminds me of Looney Tunes and not necessarily Disney and Silly Symphonies. And as far as that stuff goes, this one is solid though way too long and not as funny as it needed to have been.

The animation is nothing too remarkable but the designs of the chicken are admittedly very good as each one looks different. The score is very catchy and a lot of fun. The film is fun and amusing, but also pretty weird and odd. It is a weirdly singular entry in the series for better and for worse.

Cock o’ the Walk is definitely fun and interesting, but too odd and not as great as it could have been.

My Rating – 3.5

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Music Land (1935)

Music Land ReviewMusic Land Review

Music Land is a 1935 Disney film from the Silly Symphonies. It is one of the series’ best entries.

Yes, I loved this one. You can see in here how much the animation improved at Disney from the beginning to the half of this decade. It is mind blowing to witness. So the story is basically a retelling of Romeo and Juliet but with musical instruments. A classical instrument princess falls in love with a jazz instrument prince. It is certainly a familiar idea to turn inanimate objects into heroes, but it is original for featuring musical instruments in these roles.

The battle between classical and jazz was very real in the thirties and thus this cartoon must have been extremely timely and relatable. Despite its length, it manages to be very entertaining. The music is of course great and it is very inventive that they talk musically, but I wanted to understand what they were saying regardless. The animation is out of this world – so polished and artistic with the character designs being of the most inventive and extraordinary kind.

Music Land is beautifully, inventively animated with an original story leading to one of the best Silly Symphonies.

My Rating – 4.3

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Father Noah’s Ark (1933)

Father Noah's Ark ReviewFather Noah’s Ark Review

Father Noah’s Ark is a 1933 Disney Silly Symphony film. It is a pretty good classical short.

Although a bit too serious and straightforward, this is still an admirable adaptation of the story of Noah’s Ark. I loved Disney’s other version in ‘Fantasia 2000’ a bit more, but this one is also very good and one of the better Silly Symphonies out there for sure. I really liked its characters and they were well portrayed plus the film is engaging for the entire longer running time.

I absolutely loved the animation in Father Noah’s Ark. It is beautiful to look at and quite accomplished for its time as the humans look good, the imagery is great with a nice color palette and the animals themselves are the splendidly realistic highlights. The score is terrific of course as they used Beethoven’s 12 Contredanses here and the result is great as it fits the tone of the film and the added lyrics are great as well.

Father Noah’s Ark is straightforward, but so well made with gorgeous animation and a terrific score.

My Rating – 3.8

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Just Dogs (1932)

Just Dogs ReviewJust Dogs Man Review

Just Dogs is a 1932 Silly Symphony animated short film by Disney. It is one of the most underrated entries in the series.

A dog wants to impress Pluto by bringing him a big bone, but a bunch of other dogs want the bone too and he manages to give them all fleas and thus successfully give the bone to Pluto. That last scene was simply hilarious and one of the best gags and endings in the series in my opinion.

The animation still needs some work and the score is somewhat repetitive, but the designs of the dogs are better than usual for this period and actually stupendous. There are a bunch of different dog races featured here and the attention to detail in their look, behavior and barking was fantastic and it surely is a great film for dog lovers such as myself. Pluto is excellent in his first role and watching him calm down and start to care for the little dog was charming.

Just Dogs is surely one of the most underrated, great Silly Symphonies with great looking and sounding dogs and a hilarious ending.

My Rating – 4.3

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The Fox Hunt (1931)

The Fox Hunt ReviewThe Fox Hunt Review

The Fox Hunt is a 1931 Disney animated short film from the Silly Symphonies series. It is one of the better ones.

Yes, this entry is so good, unexpectedly stellar for it came out in 1931 which usually produced much weaker Silly Symphonies. So we basically follow the titular fox hunt and this short thankfully does not rely on repetitive music and dances as we follow how everyone rides their horses in a silly way and eventually some ride cows and even porcupines.

The animal designs are as troublesome as you would come to expect from this era in animation. The fox for instance does not look like a fox and has an overly angular look to it. But the music is solid and the human animation is quite good. The film is a lot of fun and its various riding gags were very entertaining and of course the highlight is the ending where the skunk and fox join forces to get rid of the humans. That was hilarious and extremely memorable.

Owing to a strong finale and many great gags, The Fox Hunt is definitely one of the better Silly Symphonies and one of the best from the early black-and-white era.

My Rating – 4

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The Clock Store (1931)

The Clock Store ReviewThe Clock Store Review

The Clock Store is a 1931 Disney animated short film from the Silly Symphonies series. It is a pretty basic short.

Basically the film revolves around a titular clock store where various clocks and watches come to life and share a dance routine. In the end, the two clocks fight through an organized boxing match. That last fight was solid and fun and the film is stupendously well animated, but it is such a boring slugfest to sit through until that last third.

I just was so bored by all of the dance sequences. They took more than half of the movie and were so dull in their routine and displayed no variety whatsoever. I also thought that its score, though good, became a shore afterwards as it was repeated way too much until it became dull too. A very typical early Silly Symphony this is.

The Clock Store has to offer some splendid animation and a good fight, but it is otherwise a typical early entry in the series with so many dull dance scenes.

My Rating – 3.3

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The China Plate (1931)

The China Plate ReviewThe China Plate Review

The China Plate is a 1931 Disney Silly Symphony film. It’s an elegant, charming offering.

It is set in China and it basically follows a young couple falling in love. The first act is dull and basically consists of dance sequences. But afterwards, the film really becomes better and better and even ending as one of the better films from this period. I liked the dragon part, the father is also memorable and the final sequence where the camera moves to reveal that the story came from the titular plate is beautiful and inventive.

The score is solid and the character design is actually better than most of its contemporaries, though the movements still needed some work as they are far from polished. The animation is splendid and I loved some of the wonderful imagery here. They for once did not stereotype Asia and the film is thus much more enjoyable.

The China Plate has a weaker first part, but afterwards the story gets better. The animation is very good and the film is charming and ends wonderfully.

My Rating – 3.6

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