Posted November 24, 2010 by editor in Retrospectives

Disney: The Package Films

After the successful slew of Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi, the war effort took over and many of Disney’s work-force were drafted to help making propaganda films.

In order to keep the feature film division going, Disney released what is referred to as package films. Somehow, they make it into the official list of Disney Classic animated features (despite some of them coming in under an hour running time) but they are mostly forgotten works that you can just about find on DVD if you look hard enough (but we have no doubts that Disney will dig them up and have them made ready in fancier releases at some point in the future).


There were six package films released in this period. First up is Saludos Amigos in 1942. It is set in Latin America and is made up of four segments featuring the likes of Donald Duck and Goofy.

The segments are: Lake Titicaca, Pedro, El Gaucho Goofy and Aquarela do Brasil. Naturally the entire piece is located to South America and features Donald Duck in two segments, Goofy in another and a new character called Pedro (who is a plane).


Next up is The Three Caballeros made in 1944. The film also consists of several segments: in The Cold-Blooded Penguin we meet Pablo the Penguin who decides to relocate to a sunnier climate. The Flying Gauchito follows a young boy and his winged donkey. Baia sees a returning Donald Duck hanging out down south again. Las Posadas is a Christmas based story retelling the troubles of Mary and Joseph trying to find room at an inn. That duck is back again in Mexico: Patzcuaro, Veracruz and Acapilco where Donald and his friend Jose are given a tour of Mexico. You Belong To My Heart sees Donald falling in love and finally Donald’s Surreal Reverie sees Donald zoning in a scene compared to the “Elephants on Parade” from Dumbo.


The third film is Make Mine Music which consisted of ten segments: The Martins and the Coys which was at one point cut from the video release due to gun play on display; Blue Bayou was originally meant for Fantasia and features the Debussy music Clair De Lune; All the Cats Join In featured a pencil drawing the animation as it occurred; Without You was a ballad Piece; Casey and the Bat was a poetic piece about an arrogant ballplayer; Two Silhouettes had live action ballet mixed with animation; Peter and the Wolf naturally was their take on the famous tale; After You’ve Gone had instruments parading about tin a musical background; Johnny Fedora and Alice Blue Bonnet was about two hats falling in love and then Finally The Whale Who Wanted To Sing At the Met wrapped things up with a tale of a Sperm Whale.


Next came Fun and Fancy Free featuring the bigger segments: Bongo, which follows a young bear cub in the circus; Mickey and the Beanstalk – naturally an adaptation of the Jack and the Beanstalk fairytale with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy who team up to tackle the kingdom in the sky after discovering some magic beans.


The fifth release was Melody Time. Another release heavy on music, this film has seven segments. First up is Once Upon a Wintertime is about two romantic lovers on the ice. Bumble Boogie had a bee trying to escape a surrealist nightmarish musical frenzy. The Legend of Johnny Appleseed was the Disney take on the pioneering days. Little Toot was another poem based short which featured a small tug boat who got into all sorts of comical problems whilst trying to impress. Trees is yet another poem piece showing the seasons. Blame it on the Samba saw the return of Donald Duck and Jose Carioca and finally, Pecos Bill about a Texan hero.


Finally, there was The Advetures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. To us that is Sleepy Hollow and Wind and the WillowsWind and the Willows naturally is an adaptation of the book with the very Mr Toad getting into all sorts of bother. Sleepy Hollow for fans of the Tim Burton version who have not read the original source might be a tad surprised when they discover that it is Brom who comes out on top in this tale of jealousy and superstition as Ichabod is the whole who comes under the threat of the Headless Horseman in a tense but, er, spirited retelling of the tale. This short film was eventually separated from the companion piece and sold as separate on video.

Steven Hurst