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American Legends (1958)

Alfree Woodard , James Earl Jones  |  G |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Alfree Woodard, James Earl Jones
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Animated, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: February 12, 2002
  • Run Time: 58 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005RDST
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,659 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "American Legends" on IMDb

Special Features

Celebrity Host Introductions By James Earl Jones

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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 America 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!

American history and pioneer mythology blur in this collection of animated Disney shorts hosted by James Earl Jones. From Disney's Golden Age come the marvelous Johnny Appleseed (1948), a fanciful, folksy, story-song tale of the real-life planter who seeded the Midwest, and The Brave Engineer (1950), a screwball version of "The Ballad of Casey Jones." Paul Bunyan (1958) is pure tall tale turned energetic American myth: the giant lumberjack is a homespun Zeus in flannel and logger boots creating the mountains and valleys of the American West with his big, blue ox, Babe. Joining these classics is Disney's stylized new take on the folk song John Henry (2000), narrated by Alfre Woodard. The sketchy, roughed-up style echoes Jacob Lawrence in moments, and the rich soundtrack soars with spiritual-influenced music. Like the best of Disney, these spirited folk tales speak to both children and adults. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
59 of 60 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
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.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable! May 22, 2002
By A Customer
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...
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well remembered March 27, 2006
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.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
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! Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Legends October 29, 2008
I'm a kindergarten teacher and this is a great video to suppliment a k-1 unit on any of these famous characters from American legend. Short, easy to follow, beautifully animated. With introductions by James Earl Jones, it's a wonderful video to own.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparks further conversation and investigation!! October 19, 2005
This is a collection of animated Disney shorts hosted by James Earl Jones...Johnny Appleseed is a fanciful, folksy, story-song tale of the real-life planter who seeded the Midwest...The Brave Engineer is a screwball version of "The Ballad of Casey Jones"... Paul Bunyan is a tall tale with the giant lumberjack as a homespun Zeus in flannel and logger boots creating the mountains and valleys of the American West with his big, blue ox, Babe...John Henry is a new take on an old folk tale. Kids of all ages will enjoy this movie which will spark further conversation and investigation.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This probably took a few days to slap together... February 23, 2002
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I must admit, I love disney's animation, almost all of it, and when I saw that they had put a few shorts together that I didn't own, I bought it. But after watching it, I can't help but think that this was thrown together to make money off of the current level of patriotism. And when I say "thrown together", I mean THROWN TOGETHER. The program doesn't even have any kind of beginning at all. Just a cheap title card leading straight into James Earl Jones' segments, which by the way are terribly written AND filmed. The actual shorts have been snipped down to size, with no beginning, title cards, or end segments, credits, either. And as for all of you buying this just for the new John Henry short, you should know that it is "stylized". This means that the animators used a special technique when creating this short that makes it look "rough" and "rugged". If you've ever seen a clip of animation before it goes into the cleanup stage, where they erase all the little markings on the drawing and then refine the lines, then you've seen this "technique". However, to me it just looks messy and cheap, like the project was so rushed that they couldn't put it through cleanup, and just colored over all the markings. This does absolutely NOTHING to help the short, all it did to me was make me dizzy and annoyed at the sloppiness of it all. The final straw for me was the music over the end credits, a sample of the song from John Henry repeated over and over, about 5 times. THEY COULDN'T EVEN GET SOME APPROPRIATE CREDIT MUSIC, HOW CHEAP! Overall, I was pretty disappointed with their general sloppiness with this whole project. 1 star for a good idea, and the other just because it's Disney.
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Topic From this Discussion
disney editing
If you're looking for the UNCENSORED/UNCUT version of MELODY TIME which has Pecos Bill's cigarette intact and the scene where Bill rides the tornado and lights his cigarette with lightning, you'll need to buy the UK Region 2 version at:

If you're looking for the UNCUT version of... Read More
Oct 5, 2011 by Alan |  See all 2 posts
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