Melody Time (1948)

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Released 18-Nov-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Short Film-Casey Bats Again (7:22)
Short Film-Donald Applecore (6:33)
Short Film-Lambert The Sheepish Lion (8:00)
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1948
Running Time 72:21
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Clyde Geronimi
Wilfred Jackson
Jack Kinney
Hamilton Luske
Studio
Distributor
Disney
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Roy Rogers
Dennis Day
Laverne Andrews
Maxene Andrews
Patty Andrews
Fred Waring
Freddy Martin
Ethel Smith
Frances Langford
Buddy Clark
Bob Nolan
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Eliot Daniel
Paul Smith
Ken Darby


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    As the last of the anthology features that were the staple of the Walt Disney animated work of the 1940's, Melody Time is perhaps the best of the releases. It made virtually no attempt to provide any coherence to the overall film and very much became a collection of seven short stories with the emphasis on melody (hence the title obviously). The tenth animated feature from the Disney company, after this effort came the Adventures Of Ichabod & Mr Toad before the (arguably) second golden age of Disney animation started with Cinderella.

    The feature comprises seven shorts, which are mostly song or instrumental based. The seven shorts are all distinctly different, generally featuring musicians and vocalists of the era:

    There is certainly quite a deal here to entertain, and the feature itself almost revels in the fact that it can and does wander where it will. The mix of animation styles, the music and stories ensures that the interest level is maintained. If you need to look at the animation that Disney did during the 1940's there are not too many better than this.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame format that is fairly obviously not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer features some relatively decent sharpness, although bear in mind that some of the animation is very simple and thus does not inherently have a great deal of sharpness. Definition is again pretty good in general, and this is aided by the lack of any serious grain in the transfer. The source material is however a little dirty, so the lack of grain is only a partial assistance in improving the clarity. Shadow detail and contrast in the live action material is pretty good.

    There are no real complaints at all with respect of the colours, which are pretty good overall. Obviously they are not up to the sort of stuff we would expect in more recent, or fully restored, transfers, being a little underdone at times. Vibrancy is also a little lacking. Oversaturation is not an issue, and colour bleed is again absent from the transfer. The live action stuff is very nicely done - well saturated and with nice, consistent tonal depth.

    There are no MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There are no obvious film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. Once again, however, the film artefacts let the transfer down somewhat, with some rather obvious speckling at times along with what appears to be emulsion damage. Add into the mix some rather obvious film dirt and, rather surprisingly from this source, reel change markings (paired noticeably at 58:25 and 58:30 as well as at 72:13 and 72:18), this is a little disappointing and well below expectations.

    This is a single sided, Dual Layered DVD with the main feature seemingly mastered on one layer and the extras on another.

    There are just the two subtitle options on the DVD, being English and English For The Hearing Impaired efforts. Whilst they are both reasonably good, they do miss a little too much of the dialogue and vocals for my liking at times.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, and... well just go read the review for Saludos Amigos for the short rant. Yes, the soundtrack is again an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    Just like the previous two releases out of this batch of Disney animation to be reviewed, the six channel soundtrack is not exactly a six channel surround sounding effort at all.

    The dialogue comes up well enough in the transfer. There are of course the usual animation sync issues.

    The original music score was contributed by Eliot Daniel, Ken Darby and Paul Smith. Some of the arrangements are provided by Vic Schoen and Al Sack. In apposition to the preceding reviews of these 1940's animated features, the music here is a little bit more memorable, although the songs obviously lift the score a little.

    You have read the description before: despite the six channels, it sounds a lot more like a mono soundtrack than a surround encoded soundtrack. There is basically nothing emanating from the rear surround channels, whilst the front soundscape really does sound like a mono soundtrack coming straight out of the centre channel, with nothing significant in the front channels. The sound is quite decent given the age of the source material, with just a little more body than hitherto heard, although it still suffers from a little congestion here and there. This appears to be a little cleaner sounding with nothing significant in the way of background blemishes.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A reasonable dollop of animated shorts to add to the main feature as a dessert. Since the main feature itself has no great coherence, it is less of a problem that the three animated shorts have no relationship to each other or the feature. Unusually, two of the three do not feature any of the well known Disney animated short characters.

Menu

    Another bright and colourful effort that is again out of step with the main feature. Perversely again too, the menu is widescreen and 16x9 enhanced.

Short Film - Casey Bats Again (7:22)

    Made in 1953, this short tells the story of Casey, a ball player who has an ignominious ending to his career. However, when his wife announces her pregnancy, he may yet have a son to carry on the baseball tradition in the family. His friends think so, too. Nine daughters later... Presented in a Full Frame format that is not 16x9 enhanced, it features adequate Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The short is not too bad, but does suffer a bit from aliasing and film artefacts.

Short Film - Donald Applecore (6:33)

    Made in 1951, the bad-tempered Donald Duck (why has his temper not been de-sensitised by Disney - surely it must incite violence in the youngsters?) returns as an apple farmer who has to suffer at the hands of Chip and Dale. As such, the usual mayhem follows as Donald tries to combat their attacks on his apples. Also presented in a Full Frame format that is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with decent Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The red of the apples is a little oversaturated at 4:30, whilst the transfer is affected somewhat by film artefacts.

Short Film - Lambert The Sheepish Lion (8:00)

    Made in 1951, this short obviously involves Lambert the lion who was inadvertently delivered by the stork to a flock of sheep. Despite being a lion, he is the butt of the fun of the rest of the lambs in the flock. However, when his adopted mother is threatened, his true nature comes to the fore. Presented in a Full Frame format, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with decent Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Again affected somewhat by film artefacts but otherwise quite good overall.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    On the face of it, the Region 1 release is just about identical to the Region 4 except for the presence of the original mono soundtrack on the Region 1 release. So, it is very tempting to suggest that the Region 1 release is the preferred version, right? Wrong! Unfortunately, the Region 1 release has been censored to remove of all things the cigarette smoking of Pecos Bill in the short of the same name. This apparently is another one of Disney's misguided attempts to de-sensitise some of their earlier releases by removing supposedly offensive material. Since even the British Board of Film Classification is more broadminded than Disney (ye gods, the BBFC broadminded?????), the Region 2 and thus Region 4 releases are free of this insidious censorship.

Summary

    Disney's tenth animated feature, Melody Time, is one of the better anthology features from the 1940s. Some of it is a bit weak, but most still holds up pretty well fifty odd years later. Technical quality is fairly decent, but like nearly all of these 1940's efforts, a good restoration would not go astray. If you want to investigate some of these 1940's animated features, this is probably one of the better ones to look at.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Tuesday, December 02, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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