Walt Disney Treasures Wave Six
The Complete Pluto: Volume Two
Though Pluto probably has a slightly more limited appeal than Mickey, Donald or Goofy, he was popular enough to warrant his own series, which ran from 1937 to 1951 and featured some 48 cartoons, 24 of which are contained on this set. As Leonard Maltin explains in his requisite introduction, much of what makes these cartoons so appealing to watch is the pantomimic nature of Pluto himself. Since Pluto must convey all of his feelings and emotions non-verbally, these cartoons become an ideal showcase for some of the really talented animators who worked at the Disney studio at the time (and also serve as a nice argument against those who make the spurious claim that motion-capture is the superior method for creating a performance in animation). The cartoons are, for the most part, quite entertaining and fun to watch. This set also includes one of the more noteworthy supplemental features amongst these DVDs: the full pencil-test for Pluto’s Judgment Day, which serves as a really interesting glimpse into the process of making a cartoon. Though this set isn’t quite the must-buy that More Silly Symphonies is, it’s still something that any serious animation fan is going to want, and something that should easily keep both kids and adults entertained.
The Hardy Boys
This set probably has the least wide appeal out of the four DVDs in this wave. And by probably, I mean definitely: though I have little doubt that those who grew up watching the Mickey Mouse Club, and who have fond memories of these shows from their original run, will be delighted with this set, everyone else will probably find their interest to be somewhat less than piqued. Originally aired in 12 minute daily installments on the Mickey Mouse Club, this adaptation of Franklin W. Dixon’s novel, the Tower Treasure, finds the two brothers embroiled in a mystery involving stolen pirate doubloons. Each episode ends with a cliffhanger of sorts, with the intention being to encourage kids to tune in the next day. It probably worked best that way; viewed on this DVD in one long chunk, it’s almost four hours long, and it basically comes off as a seriously overlong, very low-budget and somewhat mediocre mystery movie. If this is something you remember from your childhood, then this set may just be for you, if only for the nostalgic appeal. Otherwise this is probably for Disney Treasures completists only.
More Silly Symphonies: Volume Two: 1929 – 1938
Walt Disney’s Silly Symphonies series of cartoons, which ran from 1929 to 1938, inspired countless imitators, from Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies at Warner Brothers to Happy Harmonies at MGM. It was also a place where Walt and his team of animators could experiment, launching many of the innovations which would later make the feature-length Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs such a stunning accomplishment. Most of the really important Silly Symphonies, such as the Skeleton Dance (the first Symphony), Flowers and Trees (the first cartoon in color), and the Old Mill (the first cartoon to use Disney’s revolutionary multiplane camera), have already been included on the first volume of Silly Symphonies, released way back in the first wave of the Disney Treasures. However, that shouldn’t dissuade you from adding this set to your collection; these cartoons are certainly worth watching, from the crude but ebullient black and white cartoons on the first disc, to the more technically-refined color cartoons of the second disc. Anyone with even the smallest amount of interest in classic animation would be remiss to give this set a pass.
Your Host Walt Disney
The show known as Disneyland, then Walt Disney Presents, then finally Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color is what really made Walt Disney a household name and face. That Walt Disney is still regarded as a sort of kindly father-figure is almost entirely thanks to this show, which ran from 1954 to until Disney’s death in 1966. It was here that Disney cultivated his image as “Uncle Walt.” Episodes on this set include Where do the Stories Come From?, which features an interesting behind-the-scenes look at some of the steps involved in making a cartoon; Fourth Anniversary Show, which includes a reenactment of Disney’s first meeting with the composer Sergei Prokofiev for the cartoon short Peter and the Wolf, as well as the full cartoon itself; and Backstage Party, which features a brief but fascinating tour of the Disney Studio. This set will probably hold the most appeal to diehard Disney fans or to those who grew up with the show, however there’s enough interesting stuff here to recommend this DVD to anyone with even a casual interest in Walt Disney and his films.