Forgotten Disney: Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom

Well, I know I promised you guest bloggers, but what kind of Disney fan would I be if I didn’t contribute a review to this Forgotten Disney series.  So let’s get me out of the way, then you can enjoy all our great guest reviewers.

A few weeks ago, I traveled back to my hometown in Illinois.  While out one day, I stopped by the building that was my elementary school for two years, kindergarten and first grade.  The building hasn’t served as a school for over 35 years now, but it still looks a lot like it did when I was there.  One of my most vivid memories of my time there as a student was gathering in the library one day and watching this film…the 1953 Academy Award winning short “Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom.”

Now, some might argue that this isn’t a “forgotten film.”  It certainly isn’t with Disney geeks and animation fans.  But I fear that many more casual movie viewers have missed this very original and funny educational film.


As the film opens, we are introduced to an owl who teaches a classroom full of birds.  Today’s subject is the study of musical instruments.  The owl explains that all musical instruments can be broken down into four groups…those that toot, those that whistle, those that plunk, and those that boom.  These are represented by four cavemen characters, each of whom plays a primitive version of these instruments.


From there, we are shown the history and development of each of these types of instruments.  Sounds a little dry, I know…but fear not!  There is a lot of humor employed in these segments.  My favorite section is the “plunk” sequence.  As we see the progression of the different string instruments, we see that they grow more complex but all have one thing in common…the strings tend to break.  I lose it every time I watch this sequence!  The strings break in such dramatic and hilarious ways…I just can’t help it.


The humor is enough to keep this film entertaining, but it is also a visual treat.  Under the direction of animators Ward Kimball and Charles A Nichols, the studio brought some of their most unusual artistry to the screen in this film.  The style of the character design and backgrounds is classic 50’s.  It features many unique colors and interesting geometric designs.  This was also the first cartoon to be filmed and released in Cinemascope.

Of course, this is ultimately and educational film, and it certainly succeeds in getting its message across.  The filmmakers understood that keeping an audience of any age engaged with humor and visual creativity was the best way to make sure they learned something.  “Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom,” is simply one of the greatest animated shorts ever made!  

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4 thoughts on “Forgotten Disney: Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom

    • It has appeared on a few Disney DVD’s. I believe it was a bonus feature on the “Fantasia 2000” DVD release and is also in the Walt Disney Treasures set called “Disney Rarities”

      • This is an awesome series xD and good to know that the segment is included in the Disney Rarities DVD. Maybe I’ll get it… xD

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