Still from Silly Symphony film Hell's Bells

Hell’s Bells is Released

On this day in 1929, just in time for Halloween, the fourth Silly Symphony, Hell’s Bells, fired up movie screens. This is the first cartoon directed by Disney Legend Ub Iwerks, Walt’s first business partner who also astoundingly animated the first Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts all by himself.

Hell’s Bells takes place in the bowels of the underworld with spiders, devils, and bats running rampant.

One little devil tries desperately to thwart Satan’s attempts to feed him to Cerberus, the mythological three-headed dog that guards the entrance to Hades. Despite the macabre theme of this cartoon short, it still lives up to its name, Silly Symphony. Plenty of gags indeed make this film silly, and the symphony aspect includes two classical pieces, often associated with Halloween, “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by 19th century Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, and “Funeral March of a Marionette” by 19th century French composer Charles Gounod.

The latter song became increasingly popular in 1955 when it was used as the theme song for the television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents.