Disney celebrates the legends that inspired a country with classic stories of real American heroes in this all-new, full-length animated collection, DISNEY'S AMERICAN LEGENDS! You'll meet the doers and dreamers who made Am... more »erica great -- including John Henry, the railroad builder, who proved the value of believing in oneself. John Henry was created using rough-style animation over a scratchboard background, a technique that dates back to Disney's 101 DALMATIANS! This artistic style was chosen specifically by the director in order to convey the power and emotion of the story. Journey with the giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan as he clears the land for American settlers. Follow the trail of the beloved American icon Johnny Appleseed, whose peaceful planting of apple trees blossomed along the new frontier. Then take an unforgettable ride with Casey Jones, The Brave Engineer, who never failed to deliver the mail, no matter how difficult the route! Each story is introduced by celebrated actor James Earl Jones, and filled with unforgettable characters, adventure, and memorable songs. Gather the family together and enjoy these timeless tales ... an experience no childhood should be without!« less
Carlie N. from YARMOUTH, ME Reviewed on 10/24/2011...
My kids (boy and girl, almost 3 and almost 2) LOVE this movie. Their older cousins also enjoy it. I would really like to find something similar with female characters as well.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
A Great Way to Introduce Kids to American Tall Tales
Duane S. Montague | WA United States | 07/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Disney's AMERICAN LEGENDS is a compilation of several great legends of America's past, celebrating stories of great men doing great (and not so great) deeds. The selection of stories is interesting, and each has a definitive place in American (and Disney) history. While the stories may be a bit different from what you were told (if you were told them at all, considering most of the heroes are not what one would call politically correct), all in all, it's an enjoyable collection that my family watches about once a month.
James Earl Jones ties the collection together with live action narrartion putting an actual historical context to the proceedings. His delivery and tone strike a balance between serious education and tongue-in-cheek understanding.
The first story is JOHN HENRY, directed and lead animated by Mark Henn, the animator who brought Jasmine (from Aladdin) and several other major Disney heroes to life. With narration by the great Alfre Woodard and a stirring rendition of the "John Henry" song by the Sounds of Blackness Choir, the short is first-rate. From the backgrounds intended to give the feel of folk art and quilting, to the rough animation occasionally showing through (the rough lines haven't been "cleaned up," showing the power of the animator's original drawings, and giving it a less "pretty" look), JOHN HENRY is a fantastic short, and the primary reason Disney released the collection in the first place.
JOHNNY APPLESEED (originally from MELODY TIME, a compilation feature released in the early 1950's) is told and sung by Irish tenor Dennis Day. Some nice animation, including some great stylized moments designed by Disney artist Mary Blair (whose distinctive look inspired most Disney features of the 1950's), plus the great "The Lord is Good to Me" song, make JOHNNY a nice treat.
PAUL BUNYAN was released as a short in the early 60's and features the catchy title song sung by the Mellomen. Great bass voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft brings Paul's booming voice to life, and there are some genuinely humorous bits based on Paul's exploits in creating some of our most famous natural landmarks (Pike's Peak, Yellowstone Falls, etc.). Paul is definitely not a hero in this day and age, since his claim to fame is massive deforestation. Oh, for a simpler time.
THE BRAVE ENGINEER is the story of CASEY JONES, who really wasn't very bright and gained fame for crashing his train into another one. The short itself isn't very heroic (unlike John Henry, who gives his all to show humanity can best machinery; Paul Bunyan, who helped clear the way for settlement in the West; or Johnny Appleseed, who helped feed hungry settlers), mostly being an excuse to have Jerry Collona (the voice of the March Hare in Disney's ALICE IN WONDERLAND) to do a myriad of voices, bad puns, and the like. It's quite entertaining in itself, but not at the level of the rest of the shorts.
There are several reviews here who take umbrage with factual problems, but they appear to be getting their tall tales mixed up (it was Joe Magarac who melted himself into steel, NOT John Henry), and those who view the release as bit of shrewd marketing by Disney miss the point that Disney had planned to release JOHN HENRY with other heroic shorts long before the events of 9/11.
While it is somewhat lacking at the end, and could have used PECOS BILL (from MAKE MINE MUSIC, narrated by Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers) to make a really smashig conclusion, on the whole, the collection is excellent, and quite enjoyable."
It could have been A LOT better, but it's still GREAT Disney
Monty Moonlight | TX | 02/15/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"James Earl Jones hosts this "program" featuring the stories of four American Legends: John Henry, Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan, and Casey Jones. John Henry is an all new, or at least, never before seen Disney cartoon, the other three are classics you might remember from your childhood. In all it comes together as a nice little program, and the whole thing with James Earl Jones was a nice touch. I really liked seeing an actual photo of Casey Jones. The DVD was extremely lacking however, and should be selling for around 7 bucks considering the amount of stuff on it. Still, it's not without good points, but let's start with the bad, and maybe the good will make up for it. First off, there are two extras, that's it. One is a very short introduction to Johnny Appleseed by Walt Disney. The other is a pretty lame little DVD game, typical for Disney releases. The games can be enjoyable on some Disney releases, especially the pure trivia ones with video "prizes" at the end, but this game was annoying and pointless. The Paul Bunyan trivia half was okay, but the John Henry part got annoying. With the short feature and only these two extras, the DVD is waaaaaay over priced. Next problem, well, according to the first reviewer, the John Henry short should be in widescreen. Also, as the previous reviewer said, the picture quality of James Earl Jones' segments are totally awful. Then there's the fact that they could have included several more short classics. Pecos Bill leaps to mind, among others. This would have been a nice opportunity for them to give us an unedited Pecos, rather than the one they slaughtered for the recent releases of Melody Time. And my final complaint, well, my copy had a glitch in the John Henry segment. Of all the segments to have a glitch, it would be the brand new one! I had to go through the trouble of exchanging it, only to find the replacement had the same defect. It's right after John is stopped by the Mountain that's in his path during the contest. He looks up and the pixels that make up his face scatter a bit and the sound skips a beat. Pretty annoying. Luckily, it depends upon the player it is watched on as to whether or not the glitch is picked up. A minor disappointment was also the fact that there were no special new previews. You'd think Disney would at least come through with some good advertisements. I was hoping they'd give us the Lilo and Stitch promo featuring Beauty and the Beast, or something like that! Well, enough of the bad, now on to the good. First, I rather enjoyed the James Earl Jones sequences, as badly done as they were. They made me feel rather like I was in Disney World, watching one of EPCOT's cute little educational shows. It also gave some interesting insight into the men these legends were based on. And as cheezy as the set was, I loved it, and it was really cool of James Earl Jones to do it, he was a perfect choice! As for the features, the classics are three faves of mine, who wouldn't love them. And the new John Henry one was great, though I agree with the previous reviewer that they went a bit too far with trying to show the pencil lines. It got to be too distracting and even started giving me a headache, but other than that aspect of it I LOVED the new short! The music was great, as was the character design and the interpretation of the story. A truly beautiful film and I can't wait to see it in widescreen in front of Peter Pan 2. True, I still hope that there is a more difinitive release of all these shorts in the future, not just to get the one in Widescreen, but to get the original credits to all of them. Well, not really Appleseed since it's on Melody Time, but it'd be nice to get a difinitive edition of Melody Time! I'm still not sure that Disney realizes how much its fans care about getting their goods intact! American Legends is not the first time they've cut off the credits and jammed some toons together. After Mickey's Magical Christmas, Snowed In at the House of Mouse, where they did the same thing to Mickey's Christmas Carol and various shorts, I fear this is going to be the new trend. I only hope we do see more of the Disney Treasures collections in the future. I won't hold my breath for Song of the South. Luckily I aquired the VHS. As for the American Legends DVD, while it could have been so much more, I'll take it for what it is. I can't complain about having four GREAT Disney shorts on video, even without the widescreen or original credits."
that girl | 05/23/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is great for any age! My 2 and 4 year olds love it and so do the 8th graders I teach when we go over American legends. I just can't help but cheer for John Henry every time! It could have been priced a little less but the moralistic value remains. If only everyone had that spirit for what is good and right..."
that girl | eastcoast | 03/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a wonderful way for children to learn about American historical figures. My 3 year old son was continually entertained by the songs and different animation. It is a must have on our Disney list."
Disney fails in the most simplest of tasks
Sthenno222 | Atlanta, GA United States | 02/19/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The menus are slapdash and the supplemental material is unmemorable. The commentaries by James Earl Jones are informative, but useless and the shorts are NOT shown in their entirety. Disney has done us the favor of removing the opening and closing credits from each short. Admittedly, my criticism of this DVD is probably one only hard-core animation fans will be able to relate to, but I find this DVD to be unacceptable.Maybe in some alternate universe Disney is releasing a 'Tall Tales' DVD, not in some feeble attempt to make money off of patriotism, but because they want to present their classic shorts the way they deserve to be presented. A world where Disney would even include 'Pecos Bill' and not think they'll offend people because he smokes cigarettes(like anyone cares).If you just like to watch cartoons, rent it. If you like to buy this kind of stuff for posterity, it's not worth the DVD it's burned on."