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Summertime (1935)

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Spring is coming, but Old Man Winter isn't ready to retire for the year.


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Title: Summertime (1935)

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The sun gathers its strength to shine bright and melt the ice of Winter so that Spring may begin. However, Old Man Winter is unwilling to go quietly. He tricks the groundhog into believing that he has seen his shadow so that Winter can be prolonged. The other creatures of the forest ban together to ward off Old Man Winter, with fauns and centaurs leading the battle. Written by Melissa

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Animation | Short





Release Date:

15 June 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

In the Good Ol' Summertime  »

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Featured in Pee-wee's Playhouse: Rainy Day (1986) See more »

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One of this studio's best cartoons
16 February 2009 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

Although it was named after the summer season, and first released to the public just in time for screenings in the summer of 1935, it strikes me that "Summertime" might be most effective when viewed in late winter, during those dismal February days of slush and gray skies when it feels as if the sun will never shine again.

This cartoon describes that period when winter is coming to a close and the flora and fauna struggle to awake from hibernation and come back to life, despite the efforts of Old Man Winter to remain in control. (So technically I guess it should be called "Springtime," but never mind.) In this depiction Old Man Winter is downright wicked, a spindly blue goblin with a long icy beard and a witch-like cackle. Early on in the proceedings the snow-capped sun beats down on him and chases him off. A snowman promptly melts away to reveal Pan, who dances across a field as the landscape turns colorful. Several vignettes unfold: flowers perform a ballet; two small turtles play tic-tac-toe on a larger one, who is asleep; and three trees seen in silhouette turn into three dancing nudes. Pan summons a group of centaurs to play polo. There's an inside joke here: one of the centaurs is a caricature of Will Rogers, known for his fondness for playing polo with Hollywood pals. (But this joke had a tragic post script, for Rogers would be killed in a plane crash before the summer of 1935 would reach its end.) A white rabbit postman delivers a letter to a groundhog announcing that spring has arrived, but before they can celebrate Old Man Winter returns, determined to regain control. Now Pan summons the woodland creatures to fight him off. Even the humble fireflies are enlisted; fireflies armed with flamethrowers, that is!

Ub Iwerks pioneered this form of animated short when he worked for Walt Disney in the '20s and helped launch the Silly Symphonies series. "Summertime" was a product of the studio Iwerks formed after splitting with his former partner, and although his independent work rarely posed much of a challenge to the Disney organization this cartoon is an exception. The two-strip Cinecolor process Iwerks relied on looks unusually rich and warm here, character design is pleasing, the music is nice and the gags are amusing. "Summertime" is one of the best products of the Iwerks studio, and a sure cure for the February Blues.

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