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Mickey Mouse, Various
Writing Credits:

Some of the most endearing stories the world has ever known are contained here in Walt Disney's Timeless Tales Volume Two. You'll fall in love with the title characters in the two Academy Award-winning shorts "Ugly Duckling" and "The Country Cousin" (Best Short Subject, Cartoons, 1939 & 1936) and revel in the hilarious antics of Mr. Toad in "The Wind In The Willows." With dazzling animation, unforgettable music, and time-honored themes about facing responsibilities and liking yourself for who you are, this collection of four stories is a must-have for every child's video collection.

Rated G

Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Monaural

Runtime: 61 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 8/16/2005

• Sneak Peeks


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Walt Disney's Timeless Tales: Volume II (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 25, 2006)

Disney aims their “Treasures” collections at the serious fans and shoots for more casual admirers with shorter, cheaper compilation packages like this one: Timeless Tales, Volume Two. This one follows an animal theme with it components.

The fans who bought all the “Treasures” will already own all of these shorts via a combination of sets. “The Wind in the Willows” comes from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, while “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Country Cousin” all appeared on Silly Symphonies. Finally, “Ferdinand the Bull” popped up on Disney Rarities.

For each short, I’ll offer the year in which it was produced. I’ll also provide a quick synopsis of the cartoon plus my number grade for each one done on a scale of 1 to 10.

The Wind in the Willows (1949, Clyde Geronimi): This adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's text focuses on a certain J. Thaddeus Toad. This 35-minute feature condenses the book into one quick story that offers a fairly hectic but entertaining experience.

In a way, "Willows” reminded me a lot of 1951's Alice in Wonderland. Both films share a certain anarchic energy about them, and those are two of the very pre-Nineties Disney pictures that made me laugh. While I find many of those movies entertaining and charming, they rarely seem funny. That isn't a problem with "Willows", which includes quite a few genuinely amusing segments, such as when the "auto-mania" strikes Toad; scenes like that are very well-executed and amusing.

At times "Willows" feels like a rushed story, but I generally found it to be satisfying and entertaining. If anything, the brisk pacing suits the tale's "wild ride" and helps make it that much more energetic and frantic. "Willows" surprised me in that it offered a very fun and delightful experience. 9/10.

Ugly Duckling (1939, Jack Cutting): When a goose hatches five ducklings, one of them doesn’t look like the others, and he receives poor treatment due to his uniqueness. If I had to criticize “Duckling”, I’d pick on the fact that the “ugly” one is really quite cute; the folks at Disney couldn’t quite convince themselves to actually create an unattractive bird. Nonetheless, the short’s message comes through loud and clear. Excellent characterizations and an absence of speech allows the cartoon to be particularly moving and effective. 9/10.

Ferdinand the Bull (1938, Dick Rickard): While other bulls like to fight, Ferdie prefers to sit against a tree and smell flowers. He remains a pacifist even when forced into the bullring. Disney always liked to tout characters who remain true to themselves, but “Ferdinand” offers an especially subtle glimpse of that theme. 8/10.

The Country Cousin (1936, David Hand and Wilfred Jackson): Monty Citymouse invites his cousin Abner Countrymouse to visit the big city. The pair live it up, though Abner tends to frustrate his more sophisticated cousin. This short tends toward the “cutesy” side of the street. It lacks any real story and simply shows wacky gags as Abner chows down. It’s mildly entertaining at best. 5/10.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C+/ Bonus D-

Walt Disney’s Timeless Tales – Volume Two appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Not one of Disney’s best-looking DVDs, Tales was watchable and not much more.

Since “Mr. Toad” occupied much of the disc, I thought it deserved to be discussed on its own. Sharpness usually appeared pretty crisp and detailed. This seemed to be the strongest aspect of the image, and I found relatively few concerns about the area. I noticed no examples of moiré effects or jagged edges, and edge enhancement appeared absent.

Print flaws, however, presented more significant problems. I detected dust, white speckles and black grit quite frequently. Other defects were less prevalent, but they appeared nonetheless; the movie featured various blotches and spots, plus a couple of scratches and hairs. At times the picture seemed slightly jittery as well.

Colors usually came across as fairly pleasant. "Mr. Toad's" hues generally were slightly muted but largely accurate and distinct; they definitely should have looked fresher, but I had no genuine complaints about them. Black levels could appear quite deep and rich at times; some of the characters of "Mr. Toad" displayed very solid dark tones, such as the appearance of Mr. Winkie's hair and the judge's cloak. However, during that short's second half, we see a lot of nighttime sequences, and these showed somewhat flat black levels, and the shadow detail appeared slightly heavy and murky. Although the short could look quite good at times, the DVD never lived up to the standards set by Disney’s other releases from the period.

As for the other three shorts, “Duckling” was the most attractive of the bunch. It showed a few minor specks and streaks, but otherwise it was clean and clear. Sharpness looked solid, and the colors were lively and bright.

“Ferdinand” was the least appealing one. It seemed soft and fuzzy much of the time, and it also demonstrated pale colors. Blacks were too dark and dense as well, and it suffered from a number of source flaws.

“Cousin” fell between those two. On the positive side, it boasted no source flaws and offered colors that were reasonably lively and full. However, this came with moderate softness, and the short never offered great definition. Overall, I thought the four cartoons on this DVD added up to a “C+” for visuals.

In regard to the monaural audio, “Mr. Toad” again deserved to be examined on its own. That track was lackluster. Dialogue had problems. The lines were always intelligible, but they tended to be somewhat rough and edgy. Music was also a bit brittle, and effects showed a little distortion as well. There wasn’t much life or dimensionality to the audio of “Mr. Toad”.

The other three shorts sounded decent. Speech showed no edginess, but then again, none of the three used a lot of dialogue. Music was thin and trebly but acceptably clear. Effects were similarly lackluster but acceptable. I got about what I expected from these older cartoons.

When we look at supplements, we get virtually nothing. A mix of ads appear under the Sneak Peeks banner. This area includes trailers for Cinderella, Kronk’s New Groove, Chicken Little, Lilo & Stitch 2, The Parent Trap, Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween, and Kermit the Frog’s 50th Anniversary.

For dedicated Disney buffs, this Timeless Tales collection will be redundant, as they’ll already own all of the shorts. However, for more casual fans, there’s a lot to like here. Three of the four shorts are real winners, and even the weakest still entertains. Picture and audio quality are fairly mediocre, though, and the set includes no substantial extras. This is a decent way to get a package of fun cartoons if you don’t want to shell out for the “Treasures” releases.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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