Silly Symphonies


Silly Symphonies

Silly Symphonies is a series of animated short subjects, 75 in total, produced by Walt Disney Productions from 1929 to 1939, while the studio was still located at Hyperion Avenue in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles. Unlike the "Mickey Mouse" series, to which it is a sister series, "Silly Symphonies" did not usually feature continuing characters. Donald Duck got his start in a "Silly Symphonies" cartoon ("The Wise Little Hen", 1934), and Pluto's first appearance without Mickey Mouse was also in a "Silly Symphonies" cartoon ("Just Dogs", 1932).

About the series

The series was first distributed by Pat Powers from 1929 to 1930 and released by Celebrity Productions (1929 - 1930). The original basis of the cartoons was musical novelty, and the musical scores of the first cartoons were composed by Carl Stalling. [ [http://disney.go.com/disneyatoz/familymuseum/exhibits/articles/sillysymphonies/index.html The Birth of the "Silly Symphonies", by Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman] ] After viewing "The Skeleton Dance", the management at Columbia Pictures quickly became interested in distributing the series, and gained the perfect opportunity to acquire Silly Symphonies after Disney broke with Celebrity Productions head Pat Powers after Powers signed Disney's colleague Ub Iwerks to a studio contract. As a matter of fact, Columbia Pictures (1930 - 1932) only picked up the distribution of the Mickey Mouse series on the condition that they would have exclusive rights to distribute the Silly Symphonies series; at first, Silly Symphonies could not even come close to the popularity Mickey Mouse had. The original title cards to the shorts released by Celebrity Productions and Columbia Pictures were all redrawn after Walt Disney stopped distributing his cartoons through them. Meanwhile, more competition spread for Disney after Max Fleischer's flapper cartoon character Betty Boop began to gain more and more popularity after starring in the cartoon Minnie the Moocher; by August of 1932, Betty Boop even became so popular, that the Talkartoon series was renamed as Betty Boop cartoons. In 1932, after falling out with Columbia Pictures, Disney began distributing his products through United Artists. The original title cards on these shorts stated "Joseph M. Schenck Presents A Silly Symphony". When Disney began to distribute his cartoon with RKO Radio Pictures the title cards were all replaced with the words "Mickey Mouse presents a "Silly Symphony"

Shortly after the switch to U/A, however, the series quickly became even more popular. Walt Disney had seen some of Dr. Herbert Kalmus' tests for a new three-strip, full-color Technicolor process, which would replace the previous, two-tone Technicolor process. Disney signed a contract with Technicolor which gave the Disney studio exclusive rights to the new three-strip process through the end of 1935, and had a 60% complete "Symphony", "Flowers and Trees", scrapped and redone in full color. "Flowers and Trees" was a phenomenal success, and within a year, the now-in-Technicolor "Silly Symphonies" series had popularity and success that matched (and later surpassed) that of the "Mickey Mouse" cartoons. The contract Disney had with Technicolor would also later be extended another five years as well. [ [http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/oldcolor/technicolor5.htm Glorious Technicolor 1932-1955] ] The shorts began to have stronger plots too [ [http://disney.go.com/disneyatoz/familymuseum/exhibits/articles/sillysymphonies/index.html The Birth of the "Silly Symphonies"] ] , and the success of Silly Symphonies would be tremendously boasted after The Three Little Pigs was released in 1933 would become a box office sensation; the film was featured in movie theaters for several months and also featured the hit song that became the anthem of the Great Depression, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf". [ [http://disney.go.com/vault/archives/movies/pigs/pigs.html "Three Little Pigs" at the Disney archives] ] Several "Silly Symphonies" entries, including "Three Little Pigs" (1933), "The Grasshopper and the Ants" (1934), "The Tortoise and the Hare" (1934), "The Country Cousin" (1936), "The Old Mill" (1937), "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod" (1938), and "The Ugly Duckling" (1939, with an earlier black and white version from 1931), are among the most notable films produced by Walt Disney. However, Disney ceased production of Silly Symphonies in 1939, as the studio began to focus on producing films and new series shorts. [ [http://www.toonopedia.com/sillysym.htm "Silly Symphonies" at toonopedia.com] ]

Within the animation industry, the "Silly Symphonies" series is most noted for its use by Walt Disney as a platform for experimenting with processes, techniques, characters, and stories in order to further the art of animation. Among the innovations developed and/or improved upon in the series are Technicolor filmmaking, true and believable character animation, special effects animation, and dramatic storytelling in animation. Disney's experiments were widely praised within the film industry, and the "Silly Symphonies" won seven Academy Awards for Best Short Subject (Cartoons), maintaining a six-year-hold on the category after it was first introduced. This record was matched only by MGM's "Tom and Jerry" series during the 1940s and 1950s.

"Silly Symphonies" brought along many imitators, including Warner Bros. cartoon series "Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies", and MGM's "Happy Harmonies". The television series "Mickey Mouse Works" used the "Silly Symphonies" title for some of its new cartoons, but unlike the original cartoons, these did feature continuing characters. Disney also produced comic strips and comic books with this title.

On December 3 2001, Disney released "" as part of its DVD series "Walt Disney Treasures". On December 19 2006, "" was released, completing the collection and allowing the cartoons to be completely available to the public.

Filmography

References

ee also

* Cartune Classics
* ComiColor Cartoons
* Color Classics
* Color Rhapsodies
* The Golden Age of American animation
* Happy Harmonies
* Looney Tunes
* Rainbow Parade

External links

* [http://www.bcdb.com/cartoons/Walt_Disney_Studios/Shorts/index.html Disney Cartoon Classic Shorts]
* [http://www.toonopedia.com/sillysym.htm Toonopedia: Silly Symphonies]
* [http://www.disneyshorts.org/miscellaneous/silly.html A listing of all 75 Silly Symphonies] at [http://www.disneyshorts.org The Encyclopedia of Disney Animated Shorts]


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