Disney &Fleischer &Illustration &repeated posts 24 May 2012 05:16 am

Sheet Music Graphics – repost

– I’ve long been a fan of old sheet music and have a tiny collection of songs from animated pictures.

This is a song by Oliver Wallace in the Donald Duck cartoon, Der Fuerher’s Face. The sheet music is a bit rare in that it has the original title of the Donald film, Donald Duck In Nutzi Land.

They soon changed the title on the sheet music, especially after the music became a #1 hit in a version by Spike Jones & His City Slickers.

You can see the film on the Walt Disney Treasure DVD – On The Front Lines: Disney Goes To War.

The film deservedly won the Oscar for Best Short Subject in 1942. Its opposition were all propaganda war films.


- Here’s part of the back page, for those who want to see the Disney logo for sheet music back then.
Sheet music in the 30s, 40s and 50s was Big Business. There were no DVDs,videos or LP records. No walkman, I Tunes or cel phones. Selling sheet music for all those kids learning to play an instrument was the natural tie-in to the film, and gave the Nation another inroad to marketing the film.

If the audience hummed the song, more tickets could be sold to the film.


The graphics for the music to Song of The South wasn’t quite as dynamic as the one on the cover of Der Fuehrer’s Face.

This cover tries to capture the lyrical, romantic feel of the film. Here surrounding the live-action plantation, with all the different song titles available from the film in the sky, is a border consisting of the animated characters from the film. The colors are limited to the green-etched homestead and the brown-linear characters.

The back cover of the sheet music contains a shot of the live-action characters, James Baskett, Bobby Driscoll, and Luana Patten. All are colored in the same brown ink as the cover’s line art.

That year “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah“, also from this film, won the Oscar, while the film’s music, itself, was nominated for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.

This film made quite an impression on me when I was a kid. And this song was one of the two I played over and over from the record. I also loved “Laughing Place”.

It’s something of a shame that the film has been kept out of circulation in the US. I can’t imagine that the film affected me as a child in any negative way. Uncle Remus was clearly the hero of the film and the only truly positive adult character in the film.

The last time I saw the film projected was back in the 70′s when Disney set themselves up at Lincoln Center to show a complete retrospective of ALL their films. At the library auditorium behind Lincoln Center there were a number of seminars in which Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Ken Andersen and Woolie Reitherman talked about their work.

I remember Frank Thomas talking about this feature, saying that Disney only did the best for the film hiring the greatest cinematographer, Gregg Toland, to shoot it. He’d shot everything from Citizen Kane to The Grapes of Wrath. (Both are unbelievably stunning works of cinematographic art.) What Thomas didn’t say, or didn’t realize, however, was that this was Toland’s first COLOR feature. And it showed. Garish, cartoon colors flooded the screen, with actors wearing much too much makeup. A big step for Toland but not the best photography.

Still, I remember those colors vividly, and I would love to see it again – on screen. A dvd would probably do.

– I have a non-Disney cover. It’s the sheet music for the 2nd feature film from the Fleischer’s, Mr. Bug Goes To Town.

This was a feature that really got me going when I was young. I think it was the first original story done in animation; not an adapted fairy tale or novel. The story still works for me, though it comes off as a bit episodic. (Actually, I think most animated features are too episodic.) They’ve created a complete world for these insects, and it works.

Technically the film is a bit limited. The opening title shot is a stunning shot panning down the Empire State Building and across NYC ending on the vacant lot where the bugs live. The animation is adequate for the period; it has a charm that I find delightful and sometimes exciting. The voices are good, and the music is excellent.

This was the hit song, written by the brilliant Hoagy Carmichael (who wrote Stardust, Heart and Soul, and Skylark) and the just-as-brilliant Frank Loesser (who wrote Guys and Dolls, Hans Christian Andersen, and How To Succeed In Business). The score for the film was co-written by Leigh Harline (who scored Pinocchio, a lot of Disney shorts, and The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, among others).<br />

As we can see, most sheet music was printed with one or two colors) red for Der Fuehrer’s Face, brown & green for Song of the South) as opposed to full color. However, this Fleischer song has a full color cover (although they use one color on the rear cover). It shows that Paramount felt they had a hit song here, and they did have a modest hit. Glenn Miller’s recording of it didn’t hurt.

The rear cover is little more than an ad for other Paramount songs. However, in among the group is Gulliver’s Travels. I’m posting just this small section of the back cover, printed in blue.



3 Responses to “Sheet Music Graphics – repost”

  1. on 24 May 2012 at 4:12 pm 1.The Gee said …

    I would think after “Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf” became a hit that part of the goal would be to try and manufacture more revenue streams by making music and selling the sheet music. Heck, Disney has made it work for itself (whether or not that has allowed for better films, I dunno. in my stupid opinion is a limiting formula for creativity).

    During the Follow the Bouncing Ball era, were there a lot of original songs they used, or were the songs used mostly “standards” ?

    It isn’t important info for me. Just curious.
    Also, I wanted to drop this here:

    I see the deadline is tomorrow….and there’s been more raised since the last time I checked. Positive thoughts. Hope the goal can be exceeded so more can be done.

  2. on 25 May 2012 at 2:39 am 2.Michael said …

    The songs in the bouncing ball cartoons were usually songs written for live action films of the day. The idea was that the more exposure to the general public was a good thing. It was a practice that was used at other studios as well. (Though not as bouncing ball cartoons.) You’ll remember that Bosko the Talkink Kid sang WB owned songs for a good half of every film.

  3. on 25 May 2012 at 2:24 pm 3.The Gee said …

    Most of the bouncing ball cartoons I can recall watching seemed to be not originals, so what you mention makes a lot of sense.

    So, it was an early example of synergy or cross-promotion then. I guess they did what worked for them.

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