Hugo Cabret Tidbit #13 ~ The Clock Store & other Silly Symphonies

by Brian Selznick

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Hugo Cabret Tidbit #13 ~ The Clock Store & other Silly Symphonies

Unread postby Liz » Sat Jul 03, 2010 6:14 pm

Pg. 202: First came the newsreels, each one a few minutes long, about current events around the world. There was one about the Depression in America, one about a World's Fair that would be opening in Paris in a few months (Hugo thought that sounded exciting, although he knew he'd never be able to go), and one about politics in Germany. And then, finally, a cartoon began. It was The Clock Store. In it, an old man was lighting streetlamps as night fell, and he passed a clock store. Inside, all the clocks were alive, and they were dancing to classical music. Hugo knew his father would have loved it. In the end, the music grew wilder as two alarm clocks had a fight.

Yesterday DITHOT covered Newsreels. And today I will talk about The Clock Store and other Silly Symphonies.

Note that one of the pocket watches is engraved with the initials "WED," for Walter Elias Disney:

[youtube]WLBCHFmwDaY[/youtube]

The Clock Store was one of 75 different Silly Symphonies created over a ten year span (1929-1939). The series was discontinued once the feature films proved to be so successful.

Silly Symphonies were born out of a frustration by Carl Stalling. Stalling, a composer, had been frustrated with the work he had been doing on the Mickey Mouse cartoons, which, by 1929, were really starting to take off. Stalling was dissatisfied that he had to tailor his music to fit the flow of the cartoon, and not vice-versa. Between Carl and Walt, they envisioned a series of shorts where that would be reversed--where the action would be subservient to the music. I think that The Clock Store exemplifies how the action was made to fit the music. The musical scores of the first cartoons were composed by Carl Stalling. Stalling left Disney for Warner Bros. in 1930 and is more known for his animation scores for Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies.

The Silly Symphony series became a showcase for the Disney artists. In them, they were allowed to let their imaginations run more freely, not being locked into the demands of a single character or plotline. The Symphonies were intended to have no recurring characters (although a few characters did reappear in a few). Instead, these shorts featured lively inanimate objects and anthropomorphic plants & animals, all moving frantically to the soundtrack. Most tended to be dance numbers (as in the first Symphony, "The Skeleton Dance") or lyrical, pastoral works (as in what is probably the best known Symphony, "The Old Mill.")

Shades of Tim Burton:

[youtube]h03QBNVwX8Q[/youtube]

Silly Symphonies became the method where the Disney artists experimented with new techniques. The multi-plane camera (which proved to be a milestone in animation, giving flat, two-dimensional animation a three dimensional look) got its first tryout here. Disney's first color short was a Silly Symphony. 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 later be extended another five years as well. Disney's first real attempt at animating realistic human figures was also tried first in a Symphony, along with special effects animation.

[youtube]VTuIb7BIFqk[/youtube]

The shorts began to have stronger plots at this time. Ironically, the one medium where the artists were not really concentrating on character gave us the first short where Disney felt true character had finally been achieved: The Three Little Pigs. The success of Silly Symphonies got a tremendous boost after the release of The Three Little Pigs in 1933. The short became a box office sensation, 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". Several Silly Symphonies, 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.

[youtube]Olo923T2HQ4[/youtube]

Within the animation industry, the Silly Symphony 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, and were crucial to Disney’s next step into feature length animated films. 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.

In 1939, with Snow White successfully behind him and Pinocchio and Fantasia on the horizon, Walt phased out the Silly Symphonies as they had run their course and served their purpose.


Filmography

1929
The Skeleton Dance
El Terrible Toreador
Springtime
Hell's Bells
The Merry Dwarfs

1930
Summer
Autumn
Cannibal Capers
Night
Frolicking Fish
Arctic Antics
Midnight in a Toyshop
Monkey Melodies
Winter
Playful Pan

1931
Birds of a Feather
Mother Goose Melodies
The China Plate
The Busy Beavers
The Cat's Out
Egyptian Melodies
The Clock Store
The Spider and the Fly
The Fox Hunt
The Ugly Duckling

1932
The Bird Store
The Bears and the Bees
Just Dogs
Flowers and Trees
King Neptune
Bugs in Love
Babes in the Woods
Santa's Workshop

1933
Birds in the Spring
Father Noah's Ark
The Three Little Pigs
Old King Cole
Lullaby Land
The Pied Piper
The Night Before Christmas

1934
The China Shop
The Grasshopper and the Ants
Funny Little Bunnies
The Big Bad Wolf
The Wise Little Hen
The Flying Mouse
Peculiar Penguins
The Goddess of Spring

1935
The Tortoise and the Hare
The Golden Touch
The Robber Kitten
Water Babies
The Cookie Carnival
Who Killed c**k Robin?
Music Land
Three Orphan Kittens
c**k o' the Walk
Broken Toys

1936
Elmer Elephant
Three Little Wolves
Toby Tortoise Returns
Three Blind Mousketeers
The Country Cousin
Mother Pluto
More Kittens

1937
Woodland Cafe
Little Hiawatha
The Old Mill

1938
The Moth and the Flame
Wynken, Blynken and Nod
Farmyard Symphony
Merbabies
Mother Goose Goes Hollywood

1939
The Practical Pig


Sources:

Disneyshorts.org
IMDb
Wikipedia
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: Hugo Cabret Tidbit #13 ~ The Clock Store & other Silly Symphonies

Unread postby ladylinn » Sat Jul 03, 2010 6:48 pm

For some unknown reason to me - I cannot pull up your illustrations in your tidbit. :banghead:

Anyway - Disney's joining of symphonies and animation was brilliant art and delightful to watch.

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Re: Hugo Cabret Tidbit #13 ~ The Clock Store & other Silly Symphonies

Unread postby Liz » Sat Jul 03, 2010 7:04 pm

Ladylinn, are you saying that you cannot see the You Tube videos?

Unfortunately, I have no idea why that would be as I am able to view them on my computer. Maybe someone else will have a suggestion or solution.
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Re: Hugo Cabret Tidbit #13 ~ The Clock Store & other Silly Symphonies

Unread postby shadowydog » Sat Jul 03, 2010 7:14 pm

Holy wow wow!!! :-O :-O :-O I remember watching those when I was a kid growing up. And no I am not quite that old. :-) They were staple fare on the Saturday morning cartoon shows back in the 50s. :ok:
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Re: Hugo Cabret Tidbit #13 ~ The Clock Store & other Silly Symphonies

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sat Jul 03, 2010 8:44 pm

I loved, loved, loved the cartoons as a kid, and I was surprised to learn they dated all the way back to the 30's. It makes sense when you read about the new ground they broke back in the day. Reminds of the new technology Pixar has created with their shorts. I saw a complilation cd of them recently and it is really interesting to see how they have evolved. Not unlike the Silly Symphony series. Thanks for the memories!
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Re: Hugo Cabret Tidbit #13 ~ The Clock Store & other Silly Symphonies

Unread postby IngridN » Sun Jul 04, 2010 2:14 pm

ladylinn wrote:For some unknown reason to me - I cannot pull up your illustrations in your tidbit. :banghead:

Anyway - Disney's joining of symphonies and animation was brilliant art and delightful to watch.

:wave: Ladylinn,

I had the same problem a while ago, all I saw where big empty squares, and it took me a while to find a solution. :perplexed:

I downloaded Adobe Shockwave player 11.5 and after that the problem was gone. :ok:

Maybe this will work for you too. :hope:
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Re: Hugo Cabret Tidbit #13 ~ The Clock Store & other Silly Symphonies

Unread postby Liz » Sun Jul 04, 2010 2:45 pm

IngridN, thanks for providing the solution. :bouquet:

I'm just curious......Is this the first time the two of you have had issues with watching You Tube videos? I'm just wondering what's different.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

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Re: Hugo Cabret Tidbit #13 ~ The Clock Store & other Silly Symphonies

Unread postby IngridN » Sun Jul 04, 2010 4:00 pm

Liz wrote:IngridN, thanks for providing the solution. :bouquet:

I'm just curious......Is this the first time the two of you have had issues with watching You Tube videos? I'm just wondering what's different.


Hi Liz,

I can't remember exactly but I think that for me the problem started last year.
On You tube I had no problems watching the videos and on the forum there were always written links in blue which you had to click on to go to the videos.

But when the written links disappeared I had a problem.
This was not only on the Forum but on other sites as well.
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Re: Hugo Cabret Tidbit #13 ~ The Clock Store & other Silly Symphonies

Unread postby ladylinn » Tue Jul 06, 2010 6:24 pm

Thanks for the help IngridN and Liz. I have no trouble with most You Tubes video - just when the box is there. I will try downloading Adobe Shockwave as suggested. Thanks for the help. I wish I had mentioned this before.

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Re: Hugo Cabret Tidbit #13 ~ The Clock Store & other Silly Symphonies

Unread postby lizbet » Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:09 pm

I am trying to catch up on tidbits so am sorry this posting is a little late to the conversation. I remember some of Disney's Silly Symphonies but as I wasn't taken to the movies as a child and am only 50 this month I'm not sure how I would have seen them. That being said I wonder what kind of shorts we'd see in 2010 if Hollywood took the risk and provided filmmakers with that opportunity - wouldn't we all rather fewer commercials before feature films!? Gotta see the Pigs again before I move on to tidbit 12!
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Re: Hugo Cabret Tidbit #13 ~ The Clock Store & other Silly Symphonies

Unread postby fansmom » Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:06 pm

lizbet wrote:I am trying to catch up on tidbits so am sorry this posting is a little late to the conversation. I remember some of Disney's Silly Symphonies but as I wasn't taken to the movies as a child and am only 50 this month I'm not sure how I would have seen them.
They showed some of them on the old Wonderful World of Disney TV program. Did you watch that?

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Re: Hugo Cabret Tidbit #13 ~ The Clock Store & other Silly Symphonies

Unread postby lizbet » Sat Jul 10, 2010 6:38 pm

fansmom - that must be it - there were only a handful of regular shows that we watched: Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, Bugsy Bunny and Disney - a well balanced weekend's viewing :lol:
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Re: Hugo Cabret Tidbit #13 ~ The Clock Store & other Silly Symphonies

Unread postby fansmom » Sat Jul 10, 2010 8:00 pm

lizbet wrote:fansmom - that must be it - there were only a handful of regular shows that we watched: Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, Bugsy Bunny and Disney - a well balanced weekend's viewing :lol:
Add Jacques Cousteau specials and you've got my childhood's TV schedule, too. (And then we got a little older and watched Dark Shadows, but that's another story.)


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