Walt Disney Animation Collection: Classic Short Films, Vol. 4 - The Tortoise & the Hare [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Babes in the Woods
Disney's fourth Technicolor "Silly Symphony", Babes in the Woods is a deft retelling of the "Hansel and Gretel" story. Two pint-sized Dutch kids, a boy and a girl, get lost in the woods, where they stumble upon a community of singing elves. The little folks invite the children to join in their merry dance, with some of the elves providing music by blowing into their little brown jugs (a portent of a similar sequence in the 1937 cartoon feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). But the festivites come to an abrupt halt when an evil witch swoops down on her propellor-driven broomstick, abducts the kids, and prepares to transform them into spiders. Fortunately, the elves arrive in the nick of time to buzz-bomb the witch with pumpkins, as the boy and girl turn the tables on the old crone in an amusingly grisly fashion. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Toby Tortoise Returns
Here we have a slapsticky sequel to the Oscar-winning The Tortoise and the Hare, with several other familiar Disney characters thrown in. For their much-awaited rematch, Toby Tortoise and Max Hare square off not on the race track but in the boxing ring, with Practical Pig (from The Three Little Pigs) acting as timekeeper and his siblings Fifer and Fiddler Pig among the spectators. Once again it looks like Max is the sure winner, especially with a cheering section consisting of three cute female bunnies. Slowpoke Toby is unable to fend off Max's punches until he is galvanized into action by the loving caresses of the Mae West-like Jenny Wren (from Who Killed Cock Robin?. In a truly explosive climax, Max once again turns out to be a bit too self-confident for his own good. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Saga of Windwagon Smith
This extra-length Disney cartoon is in the tradition of the studio's earlier animated "tall tales" about Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan, utilizing a streamlined limited-animation technique with style and panache. The story opens in Westport, Kansas, where hundreds of pioneers in their wagons prepare for the long westward journey along the Oregon and Sante Fe Trails. Enter Windwagon Smith, a former sea captain who has built an odd-looking Conestoga wagon with sails. Smith believes that he can glide all the way to California if the prairie winds are with him, and Westport's Mayor Crum agrees with him, enticing the local merchants to finance Smith's invention (though they do so more out of greed than faith, hoping to speed up the journey in order to make more money). What the Mayor doesn't know is that his pretty daughter Molly, who's smitten with Smith, has stowed away on the windwagon--and there's a outsized Kansas tornado approaching. A haunting finale caps this mini-epic, which is narrated by cowboy star Rex Allen with musical backup from The Sons of the Pioneers. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Goddess of Spring
It's the myth of Persephone, Disney style, in this lavish "Silly Symphony". In the world of long, long ago, the animals and flowers of the forest enjoy perfect weather all year 'round, courtesy of the beauteous, redheaded Goddess of Eternal Spring (Disney's first attempt to animate a "realistic" female character). One terrible day, from the bowels of the earth arises the demonic King of Hades (not named Pluto on this occasion for obvious reasons), who chooses the Goddess as his queen and spirits her away to his fiery Underworld kingdom. As Technicolor flames leap into the air and a host of tiny demons perform a Cab Calloway-style music number, the world above is caught in the grip of a fierce snowstorm. Aware that the Goddess is profoundly unhappy, the King of Hades strikes a bargain: If she will agree to stay with him for half of each year, she can return to Earth for the other half...and that, boys and girls, is how the seasons of Spring and Winter came to be. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Paul Bunyan
Retelling the fabled story of the American frontier, Paul Bunyan features the adventures of the giant lumberjack and his companion, Babe the blue ox. With the voice talents of Thurl Ravenscroft as Bunyan, this short finds the legendary character facing off against a chainsaw in a classic battle of man vs. machine. ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi

The Tortoise and the Hare
In this Academy Award-winning Disney cartoon, the animals of the forest have gathered in the grandstands for the Big Race, with banners flying and a traffic cop to control the surging crowd. The odds-on favorite is the egotistical Max Hare, aka "The Blue Streak". His opponent is Toby Tortoise, "Slow but Sure"--and none too bright, either. The official starter (a raccoon) blows his whistle and the race in on. There's no question that Max is in the lead, rocketing through the countryside while poor Toby can't even keep pace with a family of snails. Supremely confident of victory, Max pauses to show off for a quartet of pretty female bunnies. . .and we all know what happens next. More than one Warner Bros. animator has admitted that the cocky, prank-pulling Max Hare was one of the primary inspirations for Bugs Bunny. So popular was The Tortoise and the Hare that cartoon warranted a sequel (or perhaps a rematch?) titled Toby Tortoise Returns. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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