The Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Wartime Era ran from 1942-1949. During this time, the studio was struggling financially following an animators strike and World War II. So, the studio moved away from the full length narrative films that was the hallmark of the Golden Age and moved to package films to keep releasing movies. There were six animated films during this time. Right now, only five of them are available on Disney+, at least in the United States where I’m located. “Make Mine Music” is currently not available. But, I will be ranking the five that are available.
5. MELODY TIME
This is my least favorite of the five available Wartime Era films. I was just bored watching it. The animation was perfectly fine. And, it was nice to see the last film in the main studio’s canon to feature Donald Duck. It just doesn’t rank too highly on my list.
4. SALUDOS AMIGOS
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have “Saludos Amigos.” It’s the first film in the Disney canon to feature both Donald Duck and Goofy. The film was made as part of the Good Neighbor project between the United States and South America during World War II. It’s an obvious piece of propaganda aimed at building an alliance with South American countries. The animated portions are nice, but the backstory showing Walt Disney’s trip to South America did little to nothing for me.
3. FUN AND FANCY FREE
This is one of two films during this time that takes two stories of decent length and puts them together to make a feature length film. The others put together multiple shorts, but this one is divided basically in half and it benefits from that. “Bongo” tells a nice story about the life of a circus bear who breaks free to go live with wild bears and falls in love. Meanwhile, the second half focuses on Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck in “Mickey and the Beanstalk.” It was a lot of fun to watch.
2. THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD
The second of the two films divided in half to tell two completely different stories. The first half focuses on Mr. Toad as the main character in a retelling of “The Wind in the Willows.” The second half focuses on Ichabod Crane in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Both of these stories are captivating and keep me enthralled the entire time. It’s an excellent film to watch in the lead up to Halloween.
1. THE THREE CABALLEROS
This second film of the Wartime Era is another propaganda film that is part of the USA’s Good Neighbor Policy with Latin American countries. And, to me, it’s the best of the five available on Disney+. It’s a lot of fun following the adventures of Donald Duck, Jose Carioca and Panchito Pistoles. Plus, “The Three Caballeros” song gets stuck in my head every time I watch it.
That’s my list. What do you think of the films of the Wartime Era? What is your favorite? What is your least favorite? How would you rank them?