The plot to this one has a mustacheless Leon Ames playing a cop trying to nab some gangsters and prove tough guy Knuckles (Dave O'Brien) is innocent of murder. Knuckles' younger brother is one of the street yutes that makes up our title gang. They help Ames prove Knuckles is innocent by nabbing the real killer, gangster Mileaway Harris (great name), played by Dennis Moore. Cheap-looking B movie that is surprisingly better than some of the later East Side Kids pictures, although that's nothing to brag about. Worth a look as a time-killer I suppose.
For the most part, I enjoyed this. It's not perfect, of course, and it doesn't compare to the animated Disney classic. It's not even the best of the Cannon Movie Tales series. But thankfully it's also not the worst. As with the others, the biggest issue (besides the low budget that means we have cheap sets and costumes and special effects) is that they take a short story and stretch it to the breaking point. The best part of the movie are the really cheesy songs, many of which are (unintentionally?) funny. The song about ripped pants (I kid you not) had me rolling. The cast does a fine job. Most of them are playing it up like they are in a kids movie. It's not very good but it's worth a look for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are the corny songs.
Of the stories, the best are Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria, The Pastoral Symphony, Rite of Spring, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and Dance of the Hours. The other segments are all slight but enjoyable. There isn't a bad segment in this, unless we count the forgettable intermission.
This is not for all tastes, obviously. It's longer than need be and perhaps a bit boring for younger children. Still, there's no harm in trying to make them watch it. Maybe they'll love it. Even if they don't, I'm sure most adults with taste will. It's a beautiful work of art, regardless of the minor nitpicks I talked about earlier. The animation and combination of music and poetic imagery is just gorgeous. Given when this came out it's all the more impressive. Definitely worth a look, for Disney buffs and really for everyone.
The second story is the Mickey Mouse version of Jack and the Beanstalk. I know I saw this one many times as a kid but, for the life of me, I don't remember seeing Bongo before today. So perhaps this was released on a VHS collection or something back in the day, separate from this film. This one is narrated by ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, who also appears in a live action segment doing his puppet routine in what appears to be a private birthday party for a little girl who I hoped was his daughter but turns out it was Disney child star Luana Patten. A little creepy but different times.
Jiminy Cricket also appears in the beginning and in a linking segment from the first story to the second. As always with classic Disney, the animation is excellent, with beautiful drawings and rich colors. Love the music, as well. This is far from my favorite Disney movie, even limited to the compilation ones. But I do enjoy it a lot and I can't imagine most Disney fans not liking it.