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Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom (1953)

Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom (original title)
A crash course on the history of Western musical instruments.


Ward Kimball, Charles A. Nichols (as C. August Nichols)


Dick Huemer (story)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »


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Uncredited cast:
The Mellomen The Mellomen ... Singing Group (voice) (uncredited)
Loulie Jean Norman Loulie Jean Norman ... Penelope Pinfeather (voice) (uncredited)
Charlie Parlota Charlie Parlota ... Chorus Singer (voice) (uncredited)
Bill Thompson ... Professor Owl / Bertie Birdbrain (voice) (uncredited)
Gloria Wood Gloria Wood ... Suzy Sparrow (voice) (uncredited)


In this short subject (which mostly represents a departure from Disney's traditional approach to animation), a stuffy owl teacher lectures his feathered flock on the origins of Western musical instruments. Starting with cavepeople, whose crude implements could only "toot, whistle, plunk and boom," the owl explains how these beginnings led to the development of the four basic types of Western musical instruments: brass, woodwinds, strings, and percussion. Written by Eugene Kim <genekim@concentric.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

theater | band | owl | 1950s | teacher | See All (59) »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

10 November 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Adventures in Music: Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Stereo (RCA Sound System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This was the first animated cartoon in CinemaScope. See more »


Owl: [plays a band song] Did you ever stop to think, when the band plays "rink-a-tink", where all the music comes from? From a Toot, and a Whistle, and a Plunk, and a Boom.
Students: That's where the music comes from!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Like many of Disney's early Cinemascope films, a "flat" version shot in 4:3 ratio was made for theaters that were not equipped for Cinemascope. This required rearranging the artwork for some shots to accommodate the smaller screen. Shots of multiple repeated characters (like the bird chorus at the end, for instance) were literally cut in half, using two repetitions instead of four. The most notable change comes at the transition from the end of the "Boom" section to the parade that starts the finale. In the Cinemascope version, the background and characters fade out, leaving the drum in the last scene alone; the drum then jumps from the side of the screen to the center, and the parade fades in. In the flat version, the camera zooms in on the drum, dissolves into the parade and zooms back out. See more »


Featured in Ludwig's Think Tank (1985) See more »


A Toot And A Whistle And A Plunk And A Boom
Written by Sonny Burke & Jack Elliott
See more »

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User Reviews

I wanted to hate this film...
18 September 2009 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

As I said above, I really wanted to hate this film...but I couldn't. The reason I wanted to give this film a savage review is that it represents a style of animation that I hate--the very modern and minimalistic animation that came into vogue in the 1950s and lasted through the 70s. Up until films like TOOT WHISTLE PLUNK AND BOOK and films by (uggh) UPA Studios, animation had been very detailed and higher quality. Gorgeous backgrounds and high frame-rates were the norm in the 40s and into the 50s with studios like Looney Tunes, MGM and Disney. But, with the success of very simplistic UPA films like Gerald McBoing-Boing and Mr. Magoo (beating out traditional films for Oscars AND costing a fraction to make), Disney decided to experiment with this splashier but tremendously easy style of animation. So, for the style of this film and what it represented, I wanted to hate the film.

The problem is that although I disliked the art, I couldn't help but like the film--even though it was quite educational. In fact, now that I finished the film, I am still amazed because I usually watch animation to have fun--not learn things! But, I found that I enjoyed the learning.

The film is about the basic parts of music and how all instruments fall within four broad categories--those that go 'toot', those that whistle, those that are plucked ('plunk') and those that are struck ('boom'). This may seem silly, but it really did make sense and made me understand and appreciate music a lot more. In particular, I learned why horns are all curvy and how a trumpet works--and that's really cool.

Overall, a great film to teach anyone (not just kids) about the fundamentals of music AND it does it in a way that isn't boring. Who would have thought this was possible?!

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