Fun & Fancy Free (USA, 1947)
Directed by Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske, William Morgan & Bill Roberts
Starring Cliff Edwards, Dinah Shore, Edgar Bergen, Walt Disney
When I reviewed The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad, I spoke about the level of compromise which is present in the Disney package films of the mid- and late-1940s. They are, in essence, formed from the wreckage of larger productions, some of which were abandoned with the onset of WWII, some of which were started after the war but soon ran into problems. It is therefore incredibly tempting to view these films very negatively, to look upon them as Walt Disney's desperate attempt to keep the crowd's attention until something more ambitious could be produced.
Dumbo. The two films have obvious similarities, with both characters being introduced on a speeding train, both being the star attractions of a circus, and both being unhappy with their lot in life. The opening to this segment is like watching Dumbo on a sugar high - we're introduced to Bongo with the fast forward button being held down, watching him perform a series of impressive tricks in a rapid montage. Whereas we grew to like Dumbo slowly, out of sympathy or pity, we're meant to be impressed by Bongo, and there's no second chance if we get left behind.
Bambi territory, with the theme of animals falling awkwardly in love and the complicated rituals of romance. The shift is made unnecessarily jarring by the sequence of Bongo's first night in the forest, running from all manner of flies, birds and creepy-crawlies. We go from the bright, Silly Symphonies style of the opening five minutes, into the creepy forest scenes from Snow White and then out the other side. This scene doesn't add anything to the story beyond wrong-footing us; had it been a little creepier, it could well be called a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.
The Goon Show. Although they precede their counterparts by at least a decade, there is precious little separating Mortimer Snerd from Eccles, or Charlie from Bluebottle.