29 September 2000 | Ron Oliver
Disney's Cartoon That Failed
A Walt Disney SILLY SYMPHONY Cartoon Short.
Little ELMER ELEPHANT has a crush on Tillie Tiger & his affection is reciprocated (don't try to figure it out). Trouble is, the pint-sized pachyderm is beset by bullies who ridicule his trunk and make his life miserable. Then a conflagration breaks out at Tillie's tree house...
A very cute little film, very nicely drawn, with a sound moral message. It could have been the start of a series of Elmer Elephant shorts, but, alas, that was not to be and Elmer & his friends went into almost immediate cartoon oblivion.
The pelicans, for those too young to know, are spoofs of Jimmy Durante.
The SILLY SYMPHONIES, which Walt Disney produced for a ten year period beginning in 1929, are among the most interesting of series in the field of animation. Unlike the Mickey Mouse cartoons in which action was paramount, with the Symphonies the action was made to fit the music. There was little plot in the early Symphonies, which featured lively inanimate objects and anthropomorphic plants & animals, all moving frantically to the soundtrack. Gradually, however, the Symphonies became the school where Walt's animators learned to work with color and began to experiment with plot, characterization & photographic special effects. The pages of Fable & Fairy Tale, Myth & Mother Goose were all mined to provide story lines and even Hollywood's musicals & celebrities were effectively spoofed. It was from this rich soil that Disney's feature-length animation was to spring. In 1939, with SNOW WHITE successfully behind him and PINOCCHIO & FANTASIA on the near horizon, Walt phased out the SILLY SYMPHONIES; they had run their course & served their purpose.