You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Donald Duck’ tag.

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: July 24, 1942
Stars: Donald Duck
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Donald's Gold Mine © Walt DisneyDonald is a gold miner, who has to deal with a donkey again (see ‘The Village Smithy‘ from the same year) and a gigantic and nonsensical ore processing machine.

Like contemporary Donald Duck cartoons directed by Dick Lundy, like ‘The Village Smithy’ and ‘Donald’s Garden‘ the cartoon is filled with situation comedy only. This type of comedy reaches its apex in an almost endless scene of Donald being stuck into the head of a pickaxe. Granted, the number of ways Donald can get stuck in it is impressive, but there’s a strong sense of milking the gag, and the result is more tiresome than funny.

Watch ‘Donald’s Gold Mine’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 34
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Donald’s Garden
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: The Vanishing Private

Directors: Bill Roberts, Jack Kinney, Hamilton Luske & Wilfred Jackson
Release Date: August 24, 1942
Stars: Donald Duck, Goofy, Joe Carioca
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Saludos Amigos © Walt Disney‘Saludos Amigos’ was the first result of a two-month trip to South America Walt Disney made with eighteen people from his staff, including animator Norm Ferguson and designers Mary and Lee Blair.

This trip was financed by the Coordinator of Inter-American affairs, and ‘Saludos Amigos’ feels like an advertisement for South America. It’s the first of several ‘package films’ Disney made in the 1940s, and like its followers, it is uneven. There is not much of a story, just a live action travelogue across Bolivia, Chile, Argentine, and Brazil. In between there are four cartoon sequences: Donald Duck as a tourist at Lake Titicaca, the story of Pedro the airplane, Goofy as a Gaucho and a samba sequence featuring Donald and a new character, Joe Carioca.

Donald’s antics at Lake Titicaca are only mildly funny, until its finale, the suspension bridge scene, which evokes a genuine sense of heights. Pedro the airplane is a children’s story using a narrator. It’s probably the first animation film starring a humanized vehicle, and very successful at that. Pedro is well-designed, being both a plane and a likable little boy. His story reaches an exciting climax when Pedro gets caught in a storm near Aconcagua. ‘Goofy as a gaucho’ is a nice follow-up to ‘How to ride a horse’ from ‘The Reluctant Dragon’ (1941), with Goofy acting as an Argentine gaucho. This sequence is based on the art of Argentine painter Florencio Molina Campos (1891-1959), without being as gritty. The result is both educational and funny.

However, the real highlight of the film is its finale, in which Donald meets the Brazilian parrot Joe Carioca. Both dance to a samba, following a background which is created ‘on the spot’ by a brush. This sequence is alive with creativity, seemingly introducing a new era of more stylized images and brighter colors, which would dominate the 1940s and 1950s.

Joe Carioca was such an intoxicating character, he was returned to the screen, where he would reunite with Donald in ‘The Three Caballeros‘ (1944) and ‘Melody Time‘ (1948), in still more stylized and colorful scenes.

Watch an excerpt from ‘Saludos Amigos’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: October 13, 1950
Stars: Donald Duck, the bee
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Bee at the Beach © Walt DisneyThe bee and Donald compete for an empty spot on the beach in an exceptionally violent cartoon.

This short contains some good gags, but because both characters behave very unsympathetically, it is not too enjoyable. The bee, for instance, deliberately feeds Donald to a shoal of hungry sharks, which our poor hero can hardly escape. Even worse, the cartoon ends with Donald swimming into the horizon, with the sharks following after.

The sharks’ design go all the way back to ‘Peculiar Penguins‘ (1934).

Watch ‘Bee at the Beach’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 87
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Hook, Lion and Sinker
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Out on a Limb

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: September 1, 1950
Stars: Donald Duck, the mountain lion
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Hook, Lion and Sinker © Walt DisneyIn ‘Hook, Lion and Sinker’ the mountain lion from ‘Lion Around’ from eight months earlier returns.

The big cat now has a son, not unlike Bent-Tail in the Pluto short ‘Sheep Dog‘ from 1949. The comedy between father Lion and son is excellent, even though it’s less funny than that of the two coyotes, as the mountain lion’s son is clearly smarter than Bent-Tail jr.

Nevertheless, ‘Hook, Lion and Sinker’ is the best of the four films featuring the mountain lion. Donald is only the straight man, with all the comedy restricted to the wonderful interplay between father and son. The two mountain lions are after Donald’s newly caught fish, but unfortunately, Donald has a gun, and he is all too glad to shoot the duo with hail…

Watch ‘Hook, Lion and Sinker’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 86
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Trailer Horn
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Bee at the Beach

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: March 24, 1950
Stars: Donald Duck, Chip ‘n’ Dale, Daisy Duck, cameos by Goofy, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Crazy over Daisy © Walt DisneyDespite its name and title song ‘Crazy over Daisy’ is a surprisingly typical Donald Duck vs. Chip ‘n’ Dale cartoon.

In fact, it hardly features Daisy, at all. And when Daisy finally does show up, she takes the chipmunks in, leaving Donald outside. Yet, we do see Donald being crazy over Daisy, cycling to her on his velocipede… Yes, you read this right: Donald is riding a velocipede, because this cartoon is set in the 1890s. Its opening scene even feels like a copy of the opening scene of the 1941 Mickey Mouse cartoon ‘The Nifty Nineties’, complete with cameos of Goofy, and Mickey and Minnie (in the same car as they drove in the earlier cartoon).

Apart from the typical bicycle, it’s unclear why this cartoon is set in this period. The interplay between Donald and the two chipmunks could have taken place in any era. The most interesting fact about ‘Crazy over Daisy’ is that it contains an animated background scene, rarely seen since the early 1930s.

Watch ‘Crazy over Daisy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 84
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Lion Around
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Trailer Horn

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: January 20, 1950
Stars: Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie, the mountain lion
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Lion Around © Walt DisneyIn ‘Lion Around’ Huey, Dewey and Louie use a remarkably lifelike mountain lion costume to fool Donald in order to steal a pie. Unfortunately, Donald discovers the deceit, and then, off course, a real mountain lion shows up.

This story line was already formulaic by 1950, and it doesn’t lead to anything particularly funny. In fact, the highlight is the nephews’ costume itself, with its remarkable ability to stretch. This is some funny animation, unmatched by that of the ‘real’ mountain lion. Nevertheless, the real one would return later that year in ‘Hook, Lion and Sinker‘, and in two Goofy shorts: ‘Lion Down‘ (1951) and ‘Father’s Lion’ (1952).

Watch ‘Lion Around’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 83
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Toy Tinkers
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Crazy Over Daisy

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: December 16, 1949
Stars: Donald Duck, Chip ‘n’ Dale
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Toy Tinkers © Walt DisneyIn 1949 Donald Duck had to deal with three small adversaries: Bootle Beetle, the bee and Chip ‘n Dale. Of the three, Chip ‘n Dale were by far the funniest – and it’s no wonder they have become famous where the two insects have not.

‘Toy Tinkers’ is particularly inspired, using Christmas toys as props for a chase inside Donald’s living room, leading to an open war that is far removed from the Christmas spirit. Highlight, however, is the excellent animation of Dale impersonating a gentleman with a top hat and a cane.

Watch ‘Toy Tinkers’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 82
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Slide, Donald, Slide
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Lion Around

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: November 25, 1949
Stars: Donald Duck, The Bee
Rating: ★★
Review:

Slide, Donald, Slide © Walt DisneyAfter his move into the Donald Duck series three months earlier in ‘Honey Harvester’, the bee returns. This time as a classical music lover competing with Donald over the radio.

While the bee wants to listen to classical music, Donald wants to listen to a world series baseball match.

The most inspired gags involve Donald and the bee reenacting the match in Donald’s garden. But the bee is hardly a funnier character than Bootle Beetle, and the cartoon never comes off: the violence remains restrained, the bee remains cute. Donald is reduced to a simply annoying character, a bully who is rightly ‘sent to the showers’.

Watch ‘Slide, Donald, Slide’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 81
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: The Greener Yard
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Toy Tinkers

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: October 14, 1949
Stars: Donald Duck,  Bootle Beetle
Rating:
Review:

The Greener Yard © Walt Disney‘The Greener Yard’ is the third cartoon starring the annoyingly unfunny Bootle Beetle.

In this short there are in fact two Bootle Beetles: an older one and his son, who doesn’t like to eat beans and who longs for greener pastures. But the older Bootle Beetle tells him how the grass always looks greener at the other side, but isn’t. He apparently has learned this lesson in Donald’s garden, where is given a hard time by Donald, his chickens and two bluebirds.

‘The Greener Yard’ is slow, boring and moralistic, and forms a low point in Donald Duck’s canon. Luckily, it was the last Donald Duck short to feature this boring insect. Nevertheless, the elderly Bootle Beetle and his younger counterpart would return to the screen one last time, in ‘Morris, the Midget Moose‘ (1950).

Watch ‘The Greener Yard’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 80
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: All in a Nutshell
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Slide, Donald, Slide

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: June 3, 1949
Stars: Donald Duck,  Chip ‘n’ Dale
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Winter Storage © Walt DisneyIt’s 7 October, and Chip and Dale are storing acorns for the winter. Because they don’t get enough, they steal them from Donald Duck, who, as a forest ranger, has a sackful to plant new oak trees with.

‘Winter Storage’ was Chip and Dale’s fourth film, and only the second in their mature form. In this cartoon they are even better developed than in their previous entry, ‘Three for Breakfast’ (1948), and watching the interplay between the two chipmunks is a sheer delight. Donald’s role, on the other hand, is modest, and only comes alive in the finale, in a very nice fake ice hockey scene.

Watch ‘Winter Storage’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 77
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Sea Salts
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Honey Harvester

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: April 8, 1949
Stars: Donald Duck, Bootle Beetle
Rating:
Review:

Sea Salts © Walt DisneyBootle Beetle, introduced in ‘Bootle Beetle‘ from 1947, returns to tell us about his relationship with ‘the captain’, and old seafaring version of Donald Duck. He relates how he and ‘the captain’ were shipwrecked and stranded on a desert island.

Bootle Beetle never was a funny character, and this cartoon, too, suffers: Bootle beetle is simply too cute. Moreover, his relationship to Donald is never explained, nor the fact why Donald is suddenly a captain. To make things worse, the cartoon is painstakingly slow. For example, it contains a very long gag on a coconut, unfavorably reminiscent of the overlong gags of the earliest character animation-based cartoons of the mid-1930’s, like ‘Mickey Plays Papa‘ (1934) or ‘Moving Day‘ (1936).

Watch ‘Sea Salts’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 76
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Donald’s Happy Birthday
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Winter Storage

Director: Burny Mattinson
Release date: December 16, 1983
Stars: Mickey Mouse, Scrooge McDuck, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Jiminy Cricket, Pete, Willie the Giant
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Mickey's Christmas Carol © Walt DisneyMickey’s Christmas Carol’ is one of countless cinema versions of Charles Dickens’s classic tale, this time using Disney characters.

Star of the film is Scrooge McDuck, which of course comes natural to the old miser as the character was actually named after Dickens’ main protagonist. Unlike the other characters Scrooge McDuck was mainly a comics hero, created by Carl Barks, and he had appeared on the screen only one time before, in the educational film ‘Scrooge McDuck and Money’ (1967). However, only four years later he would be animated extensively, in the highly successful televison series, Ducktales.

Most people however will remember ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’ as Mickey’s return to the screen for the first time since his retirement in 1953. But it also marks the return of Donald (as Scrooge’s nephew Fred) and Goofy (as his former partner Jacob Marley) to the screen after a 22 year absence. The film has an all-star cast in any case, reviving many other classic Disney stars, like Jiminy Cricket (as the ghost of Christmas Past), Daisy (as Scrooge’s former love interest) and Pete (as the ghost of Christmas future). Also featured is Willie the giant from ‘Fun and Fancy Free‘ (1948) as the ghost of Christmas present, and several characters from ‘The Wind in the Willows‘ (1949). Apart from these we can see glimpses of the Big Bad Wolf and the three little pigs, Clarabella Cow, Horace Horsecollar, Huey, Dewey and Louie, Minnie Mouse and some characters from ‘Robin Hood‘.

This all-star cast gives the film a nostalgic feel that fits the story. Indeed, with hindsight, one can see ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’ as an early example of the Renaissance that was about to happen, in which the classic cartoon style was revived after ca. twenty dark years.

‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’ is no ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?‘, however, and it only looks back, not forward. For example, the rather uninspired score is by Irwin Kostal, who had been composing for Disney since ‘Mary Poppins’ (1964). Moreover, the film’s design, using xerox cells and graphic backgrounds, is firmly rooted in the tradition of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’ is a nice and entertaining movie, but it would take another five years for the Renaissance hitting Disney in full glory, with inspired and innovative films as ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ (1988) and ‘The Little Mermaid’ (1989).

Watch ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 126
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Simple Things
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Prince and the Pauper

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: January 14, 1955
Stars: Donald Duck
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

No Hunting © Walt DisneyIn ‘No Hunting’ Donald is encouraged by an off-screen narrator and by the spirit of his grandfather to join the hunting season.

This leads to a great satirical cartoon, ridiculing hunting and hunters. It even contains a parody on ‘Bambi‘!

‘No hunting’ feels like a Goofy short featuring Donald. Like in the Goofy shorts, most of the humor comes from the contrast between the narrator’s lines and what is shown on the screen. It’s a very enjoyable Cinemascope cartoon, which deserves to be more widely known.

Watch ‘No Hunting’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 110
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Grand Canyonscope
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Bearly Asleep

Director: Charles Nichols
Release Date: December 23, 1954
Stars: Donald Duck, the Park Ranger
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Grand Canyonscope © Walt DisneyBy 1954 Donald Duck was Walt Disney’s only cartoon star to survive as, Mickey, Pluto and Goofy all had retired in 1953.

Following Tom & Jerry, who had entered the large screen one month earlier, he was to enjoy the last stage of his cinema career in Cinemascope, being the only Disney cartoon star to do so.

‘Grand Canyonscope’ is the first of Donald’s Cinemascope cartoons, and it uses the new technique to great effects. Donald is an annoying tourist in the Grand Canyon, repeatedly bothering the park ranger from ‘Grin and Bear it‘. The action makes excellent use of the wide screen, and the Grand Canyon is portrayed in beautiful scenic backgrounds, which are the real stars of this extraordinarily beautiful Donald Duck cartoon.

Watch ‘Grand Canyonscope’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 109
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: The Flying Squirrel
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: No Hunting

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: August 13, 1954
Stars: Donald Duck, Humphrey the Bear
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Grin and Bear it © Walt Disney‘Grin and Bear it’ was the second of six cartoons featuring the nervous bear Humphrey, Disney’s last cartoon star to hit the cinema screen.

It also introduces the fidgety park ranger, voiced by Bill Thompson (more commonly known as the voice of Droopy and Mr. Smee in ‘Peter Pan’, 1953). The park ranger would star in five cartoons. In this short he orders the bears to mix with the tourists, something they gladly do, because this means getting fed. Humphrey, however, is stuck to Donald, who doesn’t share a crumb with the bear. This leads to Humphrey making more and more desperate attempts to obtain food.

Donald is hardly anything more than a straight man in this short. But it’s an entertaining film, nonetheless, featuring beautiful backgrounds.

Watch ‘Grin and Bear it’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 107
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Dragon Around
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: The Flying Squirrel

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: May 21, 1948
Stars: Donald Duck, Daisy Duck
Rating: ★★
Review:

Donald's Dream Voice © Walt DisneyDonald is a travelling salesman trying to sell brushes, but nobody understands him.

He then discovers Ajax voice pills, which give him a smooth voice. Soon he sells all his brushes, and he dreams of asking Daisy to marry him, but the pills only work for a short while and soon only one is left…

Like ‘Donald’s Dilemma‘ from 1947, ‘Donald’s Dream Voice’ is built on a strong idea around Donald’s voice. Unfortunately, in both cartoons the idea is funnier than the execution. In ‘Donald’s Dream Voice’ much time is wasted on Donald trying to retrieve his last pill.

Watch ‘Donald’s Dream Voice’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 69
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Daddy Duck
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: The Trial of Donald Duck

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: November 28, 1947
Stars: Donald Duck, Chip and Dale
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Chip an' Dale © Walt DisneyAfter two early appearances (‘Private Pluto‘ from 1943 and ‘Squatter’s Rights‘ from 1946) ‘Chip ‘n Dale’ marks the true debut of those lovable two little chipmunks, Chip and Dale.

In this cartoon they are named for the first time, and it’s also the first cartoon in which they are two distinct characters, although Dale still lacks his characteristic red nose here. Here they’re teamed against Donald Duck for the first time, their former adversary being Pluto. The short marks the beginning of a series of twenty cartoons, only ending in 1956, at the very end of the era of Disney shorts.

The story of ‘Chip an’ Dale’ provides the blueprint for the series: Donald wants to chop some wood for his winter cottage, and chops down the dead tree in which Chip and Dale live with their storage of nuts. In the subsequent scenes the lively duo tries to prevent Donald from burning up their tree and to get it back. The result is a cartoon of excellent comedy, not only between the chipmunks and Donald, but also between the two little critters themselves.

Watch ‘Chip an’ Dale’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 66
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Wide Open Spaces
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Drip Dippy Donald

Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: August 22, 1947
Stars: Donald Duck, Bootle Beetle
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Bootle Beetle © Walt DisneyIn the postwar era Jack Hannah introduced three adversaries of Donald Duck: Bootle Beetle, Chip ‘n Dale*, and a little bee. Bootle Beetle, a little insect, was the first and surely the cutest of the lot.

In his first film Bootle Beetle, who resembles Jiminy Cricket a little, is introduced here as a rare species. In fact, we’re watching two Bootle Beetles, with the elderly one telling a younger one about his meeting with bug collector Donald Duck, who, in some scenes, is depicted as an enormous giant. These scenes with a humongous Donald are the highlights of a cute and gently cartoon, which is unfortunately low on gags.

Bootle Beetle would return in two 1949 Donald Duck cartoons, ‘Sea Salts‘  and ‘The Greener Yard‘. The little insect never became funny, and Hannah dropped him as Donald’s adversary after these three cartoons. His last role was as a narrator in ‘Morris, the Midget Moose‘ (1950).

Watch ‘Bootle Beetle’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 64
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Donald’s Dilemma
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Wide Open Spaces

* Chip ‘n Dale actually made their debut in the war short ‘Private Pluto‘ (1943), directed by Clyde Geronimi, but it was Hannah who turned the two chipmunks into two different characters and made them opponents of Donald Duck.

Director: Jack King
Release Date: July 11 1947
Stars: Donald Duck, Daisy Duck
Rating: ★★
Review:

Donald's Dilemma © Walt DisneyDaisy tells an off-screen psychiatrist that a flower pot has changed her boyfriend Donald into a crooner with a beautiful, Frank Sinatra-like voice.

We hear Donald singing ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ from ‘Pinocchio’ (1940), and watch him becoming world famous instantly. Unfortunately he forgets about Daisy’s existence, as well.

This cartoon is actually about Daisy, who for the first time gets star billing. Despite its great premise, the cartoon is hampered by Daisy’s jabbering voice over, its sparsity of gags and an all too predictable finale. Like Donald’s other voice cartoon, ‘Donald’s Dream Voice‘ (1948), the idea is way stronger than the execution.

Watch ‘Donald’s Dilemma’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 63
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Clown of the Jungle
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Bootle Beetle

s.Director: Jack Hannah
Release Date: June 20 1947
Stars: Donald Duck, The Aracuan Bird
Rating:  ★★★★★
Review:

Clown of the Jungle © Walt Disney‘Clown of the Jungle’ reintroduces the Aracuan bird from ‘The Three Caballeros‘ (1944), now hindering Donald’s attempts to photograph birds.

The Aracuan bird is a surreal character, defying all laws of nature. For example, it can cycle in mid-air, duplicate itself and draw a door on a rock, and enter it. These abilities are very rare for a Disney character, and there’s no doubt that the Aracuan bird was inspired by the more absurd humor from the Warner Bros. and Tex Avery’s MGM cartoons.

Director Jack Hannah handles this type of humor remarkably well, delivering the gags in a fast pace and with an excellent timing, making ‘Clown of the Jungle’ not only the most surreal, but also one of the wildest and funniest Disney cartoons from the postwar era.

Being such a wonderful character, The Aracuan bird would return once more the following year, in the sequence ‘Blame it on the Samba‘ from ‘Melody Time‘ (1948). Unfortunately, the character remained alone in its zaniness within the Disney canon, and other Disney postwar cartoons remained much more conventional.

Watch ‘Clown of the Jungle’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 62
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Sleepy Time Donald
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Donald’s Dilemma

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