Cast & Crew
Ken Darby Chorus
The first story, a "rustic ballad," depicts the feud of the Martins and the Coys, two hillbilly families. After many fierce battles, only one member of each family is left alive, the lovely Grace Martin and the burly Henry Coy. Much to the disgust of their ghostly families, who are watching from above, Grace and Henry fall in love and marry. Their ancestors are pleased, however, when the newlyweds begin to quarrel and carry on the feud.
In the next interlude, a "tone poem," two white cranes fly through a quiet bayou that is shining with moonlight. The third number, a "jazz interlude," portrays the antics of a lively group of teenagers dancing up such a storm at a malt shop that the jukebox explodes. In the following "ballad in blue," animation of rain and shadowy scenery illustrates the sorrow of an offscreen singer.
The fifth number, a "musical recitation," tells the tale of Casey, the star player of Mudville's baseball team. Casey, a handsome fellow who is the "Sinatra of 1902," comes to bat when his team is two runs behind with two outs and two men on base. The crowd goes wild as Casey arrogantly lets the first pitch go by and the first strike is called. Casey reads the Police Gazette during the next pitch, strike two, then grows stern, and his loyal fans are sure that he will hit a home run. Much to their horror, however, Casey takes a swing at the next pitch and completely misses it. As Casey tries in vain to hit the ball, the narrator relates, "there is no joy in Mudville, mighty Casey has struck out."
The sixth number is a "ballade ballet," in which the silhouettes of two ballet dancers glide through an animated background, accompanied by two cupids.
The next story, a "fairy tale with music" relates the adventures of a young Russian boy named Peter and his friends, Sasha the bird, Sonia the duck and Ivan the cat, as they hunt for a ferocious wolf. The pals search through the snowy forest until they find the wolf, who chases them and appears to gobble up Sonia. Outraged, tiny Sasha pounds on the wolf's nose and is about to be eaten when Peter and Ivan tie a rope around the wolf's tail and hoist him over a tree branch. Three hunters arrive on the scene and gaze in wonder at Peter, who has vanquished the beast. Peter and Ivan accompany the hunters on a procession through the town, but Sasha cries for his lost friend until Sonia emerges from her hiding place and reveals that she is alive. Overjoyed, Sasha and Sonia race to town to join Peter. Next, an animated clarinet, piano, bass and drum kit try to outdo each other in a jazzy race through a surrealistic landscape. The following number is a love story about Johnny Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet, two hats who fall in love while on display in a department store window. Johnny is heartbroken when Alice is purchased and leaves, but soon after, he is bought, too. During his owner's travels, Johnny searches for his lost love, until one day, he spots her. Johnny loses Alice in the crowd though, and spends months wandering alone. Finally, an iceman fishes Johnny out of the gutter and, after cutting two holes in him, places him atop his horse's head. Johnny is not dismayed by the rough treatment, however, for on top of the horse next to him is Alice, and the two hats live happily ever after.
The final story, an "opera pathetique," presents the tale of Willie, the whale who wanted to sing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Several newspapers print the incredible story of a whale who has been heard singing in the ocean, and impresario Professor Tetti-Tatti assumes that the whale has swallowed an opera singer. While the professor sets out to find Willie, the whale's friend, Whitey the seagull, learns of the voyage and alerts Willie. The excited whale then races to meet Tetti-Tatti's ship and audition for him. The sailors are enchanted by Willie, who can simultaneously sing in tenor, baritone and bass voices, and while he auditions, Willie imagines the great acclaim that will soon be his. Willie's grand dreams are cut short, however, when Tetti-Tatti kills him with a harpoon. Whitey is saddened to lose his friend, but Willie's beautiful voice, now amplified a hundred times, thrills the heavens as his miraculous singing continues.
Ken Darby Chorus
The Andrews Sisters
Robert O. Cook
Don Da Gradi
Eva Jane Sinclair
C. O. Slyfield
Karl Van Leuven
Animation in the tone poem "Blue Bayou" was originally created for the deleted "Clair de lune" sequence of Fantasia (1940).
One of Disney's four "Package Films". During the second World War, the studio lost a lot of manpower and resources which left them with countless unfinished ideas too long for shorts, too short for features. So, inventive as they are, they stuck short ideas together into feature length movies. See also Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, The (1949), Melody Time (1948) and Fun and Fancy Free (1947).
In the original movie release, the first segment was "The Martins And The Coys". This was a fictionalized telling of the famous Hatfield and McCoy feud. When the movie was first shown on television this segment was included. When the movie was released on video and DVD, this segment was eliminated since Disney felt that it was too violent or current audiences since it showed guns and people being shot.
In the "Casey at the Bat" segment, a sign on the stadium wall announces that the Mudville 9 are playing Burbank in the fateful game, a reference to the location of the Disney studio.
In "Willie the Whale", all of the operatic vocals - bass up through soprano, and even the chorus - were sung by Nelson Eddy.
The working title of this film was Swing Street. The film's opening title card reads: "Walt Disney Presents The Talents of Nelson Eddy, Dinah Shore, Benny Goodman, Andrews Sisters, Jerry Colonna, Andy Russell, Sterling Holloway, Riabouchinska and Lichine, Pied Pipers, King's Men, Ken Darby Chorus in Make Mine Music." All of the artists listed above are also listed in intertitles with other artists. After the opening credits, which appear on the outside of an animated theater building, the door of the theater opens to the auditorium inside. The curtains of the stage then open, revealing a program for "Make Mine Music, a musical fantasy in ten parts."
Included in the segment "The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met," is a brief rendition of "Shortnin' Bread" as sung by Nelson Eddy, as well as excerpts from the following operas: "Largo al factotum" from Il barbiere di Siviglia, sextette from Lucia di Lammermoor, Tristan und Isolde, Faust and "May Heaven Grant You Pardon" from Martha, oder Der Markt von Richmond. In a March 23, 1946 Hollywood Citizen-News article, producer Walt Disney is quoted as saying that because the studio could not obtain the rights to use music from I pagliacci for the segment, Eddy "wrote a phoney one himself. Complete with sobs." Many modern sources include I pagliacci when listing songs in the film, even though Disney's comments are confirmed by a careful viewing of the film.
According to a April 1, 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item, Disney had begun preparations on a follow-up to his 1940 animated feature Fantasia, which consisted of eight animated segments accompanying classical music. The 1942 proposed feature was to include Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune," Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf," John Alden Carpenter's "Adventures in a Perambulator" and Carl Maria von Weber's "Invitation to the Waltz." The "Clair de Lune" sequence, which had been recorded by The Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Leopold Stokowski, was originally created for Fantasia but was not included in that feature. Plans for the follow-up film were put on hold, however, partially due to the Disney Studio's work for the U.S. government and military during World War II.
In late May 1944, a Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Disney had resumed production on the musical feature, tentatively titled Swing Street, and described it as "a saga of music from modern classic to boogie woogie." The news item noted that the studio was still planning to include the "Clair de Lune" sequence; Disney eventually decided to use the song "Blue Bayou," sung by the Ken Darby Chorus, to accompany the sequence.
Studio publicity often referred to the actors and singers supplying the narration and songs for the film as "ghost stars." As noted in the Hollywood Reporter review, the studio developed a "new sound recording process" for the climactic sequence, "The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met." According to Hollywood Reporter, the sound system "allowed Nelson Eddy to sing the complete score and, by changing the register of his voice at will, to be in turn a soprano, tenor, baritone and bass-then all four at once." A modern source credits Pinto Colvig with supplying animal noises for the film.
According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the studio was required to cut two shots of the teenage girl dressing for her date during the "All the Cats Join In" sequence because of her obvious nudity. The PCA file also reveals that the film encountered difficulties in England, where censors demanded that depictions of "Sonia the duck" and "Willie the whale" as angels be cut, in addition to the shot of the Pearly Gates with a "sold out" sign at the end of the segment featuring Willie. Eventually, the officials agreed to allow the film to be exhibited if the shots of Willie as an angel and the "sold out" sign were removed, although the shot of Sonia was left in.
The picture, which received mostly positive reviews and was exhibited at the first Cannes Film Festival in September-October 1946, was often compared by critics to Fantasia. Make Mine Music was the first of what is often referred to by modern sources as Disney's "package features." Although the studio had previously experimented with combining distinctly separate animated segments in the earlier features Fantasia, Saludos Amigos and Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music was the first of a series of films, released after the war, which were specifically made to ease the studio's severe financial problems. As noted by various contemporary and modern sources, the studio's work for the U.S. government and military, intermittent labor problems and the inaccessiblity of the European market had seriously affected the studio's feature output and box office receipts during the early to mid-1940s. In order to produce feature animated films quickly, Disney decided to piece together a number of short subjects, ranging from the ten in Make Mine Music to the seven in Melody Time and two each in Fun and Fancy Free and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Modern sources also note that the shorter subjects enabled the artists to experiment with a variety of animation styles. At the same time that he was producing the package features, Disney began to work more extensively in live-action pictures, which were also less expensive to produce than feature-length animated films.
Unlike the majority of other Disney animated features, the package features were not theatrically re-issued in their original formats. Instead the segments were released as individual shorts for television and theaters and in 16mm for schools. Re-releases of segments from Make Mine Music included "Peter and the Wolf," which was issued in 1955, as well as "The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met," which was re-titled "Willie the Operatic Whale" and re-released in 1954. The two segments featuring Benny Goodman were combined into another short entitled "Two for the Record." In 1955, "Johnny Fedora and Alice Blueblonnet," "After You've Gone," "All the Cats Join In" and "Casey at the Bat" were combined with five segments from Melody Time into a sixty-nine minute feature entitled Music Land, released in November 1955.