Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Pecos Bill


This short was originally a part of Melody Time, and later released on video as part of the American Heroes tape, along with “Paul Bunyan.” But when they released the video of Melody Time in the U.S., they did a stupid thing. They either completely excised scenes (as when Bill is riding a cyclone), or digitally altered them if they showed Bill smoking a cigarette. Since in most scenes he has one dangling from the side of his mouth, this was a lot of digital editing, and in some scenes he does some inexplicable things, handling the cigarette that is no longer there. I hate this sort of thing. I do not want to promote cigarettes in any way, especially to children, but re-writing history is wrong! How many scenes in classic movies could be edited this way? How about removing all smoking from Casablanca? Would the “Play it, Sam, play “As Time Goes By” scene be improved if you removed the smoke curling from the ashtray?

Ah, I hear you say. But Melody Time is for children, and they don’t have brains. Well, they apparently do in Europe and Japan, because this abomination was not done to the releases over there. Those children are also apparently impervious to the effects of seeing slavery depicted on the screen, too, as the only video releases of Song of the South were in Europe and Japan. Never been released here, and probably never will be. (But I have a copy of the Japanese version! A treasured rarity! Eat your hearts out, y’all!)

The film itself is clever, as usual. It takes the form of a story told by Roy Rogers and sung by the Sons of the Pioneers. (Look at that outfit on Roy! If he walked into any bar in the West in that poncified, swishy shirt he’d get the shit beat out of him!) It’s amusing to count the number of Freudian images simulating orgasm when Bill meets his true love, Sluefoot Sue. And if you want political incorrectness, get a load of the attitude toward women displayed. Or even worse, Indians. Maybe we should edit that out, too …