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

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

Director: Ben Sharpsteen
Release Date: January 9, 1937
Stars: Donald Duck
Rating: ★★★★★

Don Donald © Walt DisneyAfter co-starring with Pluto in ‘Donald and Pluto‘ (1936), Donald really comes to his own in ‘Don Donald’. In this cartoon he only shares screen time with a new character, Donna Duck, a predecessor of Daisy with a temper that matches Donald’s own. 

In this film, we watch Donald in a Mexican setting featuring a surprisingly Krazy Kat-like palm in the background. He wears a large sombrero and tries to woo Donna, but his donkey spoils his efforts. Donald trades his donkey for a car (the small red car we would become so familiar with). The car makes a deep impression on Donna, and both go for a ride.

The animation of the car ride is a great showcase of animation of speed, while the hilarious sequence in which Donald tries to restart the motor again is a wonderful example of rubbery animation. The film ends marvelously, when Donna produces a unicycle out of her handbag and rides off into the distance. But the whole film is one of sheer delight and one of the classics of the 1930s.

Despite Mickey’s absence, ‘Don Donald’ is still part of the Mickey Mouse series. Only with ‘Donald’s Ostrich‘ from December 1937 Donald would get his own series.

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

This is Mickey Mouse cartoon No. 91
To the previous Mickey Mouse cartoon: The Worm Turns
To the next Mickey Mouse cartoon: Magician Mickey

Director: Dick Lundy
Release Date: January 16, 1942
Stars: Donald Duck

The Village Smithy © Walt DisneyIn ‘The Village Smithy’ Donald is a blacksmith who has to fix a large cartwheel and to shoe a stubborn female donkey. He succeeds in neither in this remarkably unfunny cartoon, which is one of the weakest within the whole Donald Duck series.

Long situation gags became a common feature of Disney shorts during the rise of the character comedy, in cartoons like ‘Mickey Plays Papa‘ (1934) and ‘Moving Day‘ (1936). Arguably, this time of comedy reaches its nadir in ‘The Village Smithy’. In it only two situations are milked to the length of the complete cartoon, with tiresome results. The wheel scene is the most interesting of the two, if still far from funny, and tributary to the spiral spring scene in ‘Clock Cleaners’ (1937).

The most interesting feature of this otherwise boring cartoon are its backgrounds, which belong to the first oil backgrounds in a Disney short, and which give the film a distinct, gloomy look. Donald, too, has a unique yellowish tan throughout this picture, setting the cartoon apart from all other Donald Duck shorts.

Watch ‘The Village Smithy’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 30
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: Chef Donald
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Donald’s Snow Fight

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