From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
“Walt Disney Animation Collection: Classic Short Films Vol. 4-6″
In April, Disney launched a new DVD series mining its archives for classic short films with three volumes. Now, Volumes 4-6 in the “Walt Disney Animation Collection” have been released, allowing fans and families to view more Mouse House’s works from the 1930s-60s.
The volumes apparently include a mix of shorts getting their first DVD release and cartoons included in previous DVD collections. The discs don’t specify what films have already been released on “Walt Disney Treasures” or “Walt Disney’s Timeless Tales” and what shorts are new to DVD.
The quality and personality of these shorts vary widely, from the stilted, abridged 1949 treatment of “The Wind in the Willows” to the amusing adventures of 1941′s “The Reluctant Dragon.” Disney’s iconic version of the classic tale “The Tortoise and the Hare” leads off Vol. 4, my favorite of the new DVDs.
The six shorts on Vol. 4 provides a mix of true classics, fun but forgotten fare like the Silly Symphonies “Babes in the Woods” and “The Goddess of Spring,” and oddball offerings like 1961′s “The Saga of Windwagon Smith,” about a seaman who hooks a sail to a prairie schooner to literally sail the Kansas plains.
All three discs have their highlights. Vol. 5 features Donald Duck’s debut in “The Wise Little Hen” and the indelible rhyming rendition of the fable “The Grasshopper and the Ants.” The sixth DVD includes the memorable “Johnny Appleseed” and a faithful telling of “Ferdinand the Bull.”
They differ greatly from today’s computer-generated animation, but children and parents can enjoy these quaint cartoons, even if the picture and sound quality sometimes leaves a bit to be desired.