During the Second World War, much of Walt Disney's staff was drafted into the army, and those that remained were called upon by the U.S. government to make training and propaganda films. As a result, the studio was littered with unfinished story ideas. In order to keep the feature film division alive during this difficult time, the studio released six package films including this one, made up of various unrelated segments set to music. This is the third package film, following Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros. The film was entered into the 1946 Cannes Film Festival.
This particular film has ten such segments.
This segment featured popular radio vocal group, The King's Men singing the story of a Hatfield-McCoy feud in the mountains broken up when two sole surviving young people from each side fell in love. This segment was removed from the NTSC home media version due to gunplay, while in the PAL home media version, it was kept.
This segment featured animation originally intended for Fantasia using the Claude Debussy musical composition Clair de Lune from Suite bergamasque. It featured two egrets flying through the Everglades on a moonlit night. However, by the time Make Mine Music was released Clair de Lune was replaced by the new song Blue Bayou, performed by the Ken Darby Singers. However, the original version of the segment still survives.
This segment was one of two sections in which Benny Goodman and his Orchestra contributed the soundtrack to visuals drawn by a pencil as the action was happening, and in which 1940s teens were swept away by popular music.
This segment was a ballad of lost love, sung by Andy Russell.
This segment featured Jerry Colonna, reciting the poem also titled "Casey at the Bat" by Ernest Thayer, about the arrogant ballplayer whose cockiness was his undoing. A few moments are exaggerated or altered and music is added.
This segment featured two rotoscoped live-action ballet dancers, David Lichine and Tania Riabouchinskaya, moving in silhouette with animated backgrounds and characters. Dinah Shore sang the title song.
This segment was an animated dramatization of the 1936 musical composition by Sergei Prokofiev, with narration by actor Sterling Holloway. A Russian boy named Peter sets off into the forest to hunt the wolf with his animal friends: a bird named Sascha, a duck named Sonia, and a cat named Ivan. Just like in Prokofiev's piece, each character is represented with a specific musical accompaniment: Peter by the String Quartet, Sascha by the Flute, Sonia by the Oboe, Ivan by the Clarinet, Grandpa by the Bassoon, the shooting of the Hunters' guns by the Kettledrums, and the evil Wolf primarily by horns and cymbals.
This segment again featured Benny Goodman and The Goodman Quartet as six anthropomorphized instruments (Piano, Bass, Snare and bass Drums, Cymbal and Clarinet) who paraded through a musical playground.
This segment told the romantic story of two hats who fell in love in a department store window. When Alice was sold, Johnnie devoted himself to finding her again. They eventually, by pure chance, meet up again and live happily ever after together, side by side. The Andrews Sisters provided the vocals. Like the other segments, it was later released theatrically. It was released as such on May 21, 1954.
The final segment, the finale of the movie, is a bittersweet story about a Sperm Whale (named Willie) with incredible musical talent and his dreams of singing Grand Opera. A legend is spread throughout the city about an operatic whale, but is seemingly disproven, therefore the short-sighted impresario Tetti-Tatti believes that the whale has swallowed an opera singer and sets out to "rescue" his non-existent quarry, the newspapers announcing that he was going to sea. Whitey, Willie's seagull friend, excitedly brings Willie the newspaper, all of his friends believing that this is his big chance, so he goes out to meet the boat and sing for Tetti-Tatti. He finds them, and upon hearing Willie sing, Tetti-Tatti comes to believe that Willie has swallowed not one, but THREE singers (due to his having three uvulae), and chases him with a harpoon on a boat with three crewmen. Upon hearing the whale sing, the crewmen try to stop Tetti-Tatti from killing the whale, as they want to continue listening to him sing, even to the point of sitting on Tetti-Tatti. A montage then follows of what would be Willie's future career in performing opera on the stage of the Met, with Tetti-Tatti shown to have finally been convinced otherwise. In the end, reality strikes when Tetti-Tatti succeeds in harpooning and killing Willie, but the narrator then explains that Willie's voice will sing on in Heaven. Nelson Eddy narrated and performed all the voices in this segment. As Willie the Whale, Eddy sang all three male voices in the first part of the Sextet from Donizetti's opera, Lucia di Lammermoor.
Make Mine Music was initially released in theaters in 1946. Like many other package features of the 1940s, it was never given a wide theatrical reissue. Instead, its distinct segments were separated and released as separate short films or used as segments in Disney television programmes.
Make Mine Music was originally released on Laserdisc in Japan on October 21, 1985. It was released on VHS and DVD in the US on June 6, 2000 under the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection line. This release was edited to remove The Martins and the Coys, because it contained comic gunplay not suitable for children. The Japanese Laserdisc includes none of the edits made to the VHS/DVD versions. An unedited version of the film was released on DVD in the United Kingdom in 2013, having been previously unavailable until that point.
Outside of North America, Make Mine Music has been largely unavailable on DVD and VHS. It has, however, been available in Scandinavia on both VHS (1983) and DVD (2006). This and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad are the only two major Disney animated films never to see a release on Region 4 DVD in Australia.