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Director: Hamilton Luske
Release Date: January 7, 1944
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

The Pelican and the Snipe © Walt DisneyMonte (a pelican) and Video (or Viddy, a snipe) live on top of a lighthouse in Montevideo, Uruguay (hence their names).

Viddy tries to prevent Monte, who’s crazy about the practicing war planes nearby, from ‘sleep-flying’. Unfortunately to no avail…

‘The Pelican and the Snipe’ probably is the cutest cartoon relating to World War II. Told by Sterling Holloway, its story is simple and short, and about friendship instead of sex or violence. Typical in its South American setting, it was originally intended for ‘The Three Caballeros‘,released later that year.

‘ The Pelican and the Snipe’ marks Sterling Holloway’s debut as a voice over artist in a Disney short, after appearing in ‘Dumbo‘ (Mr. Stork, 1941) and ‘Bambi‘ (adult Flower, 1942). Holloway would become Disney’s most  favorite voice actor, providing voices and voice overs for Disney cartoons up to the late 1970s. In fact, he will be most remembered as the voice of Winnie the Pooh (1966-1974).

Watch ‘The Pelican and the Snipe’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘The Pelican and the Snipe’ is available on the DVD ‘Walt Disney Treasures: Disney Rarities’

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Director: Jack King
Release Date: December 1943
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Defense Against Invasion © Walt Disney‘Defense Against Invasion’ is an educational short for the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, the governmental institution, which tried to secure Latin America from the influence of the Axis powers.

The office commissioned quite a few films from Disney, apart from ‘Defense Against Invasion’ e.g. ‘The Grain that built a Hemisphere’ and’The Winged Scourge‘ (both 1943).

Despite its title, ‘Defense Against Invasion’ is not about war, but about vaccination. It uses a voice over to narrate the silent live action sequences of three boys entering a doctor’s office to get vaccinated. This live action part is a little boring, but the principle of vaccination is told with animated sequences in which the human body is depicted as a large city. Here we watch blood cells, ‘little workers’, fight disease (depicted as black creepy crawlers) with modern warfare. Oddly enough, it is the red blood cells, not the white blood cells (who are strangely absent), who are fighting disease.

Despite its peaceful message, the short contains many war metaphors in its fighting sequences, which all have a very science fiction-like look. This makes the short a typical World War II cartoon, after all. The animated sequences are very beautiful. Especially the backgrounds are at times no less than gorgeous.

With its depiction of the body as inhabited by little creatures ‘Defense Against Invasion’ predates Albert Barillé’s successful television series ‘Il était une fois… la vie’ (Once upon a Time… Life, 1987) by over forty years.

Watch ‘Defense Against Invasion’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Bill Roberts
Release Date: August 27, 1943
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Reason and Emotion © Walt Disney‘Reason and Emotion’ is a rather odd propaganda short, telling us about Reason and Emotion, who are depicted as two little characters living inside our heads.

The short ‘demonstrates’ where uncontrolled emotion can lead to: a man gets slapped in the face by a woman, while the woman eats too much. This makes ‘Reason and Emotion’ one of the first cartoons about weight and diets.

Then the short shows how reason is destroyed by Adolf Hitler (in an extraordinarily vicious, but wonderfully animated caricature), who uses fear, sympathy, pride and hate to indoctrinate the Nazi mind. This is one of the propaganda shorts, which treat the Germans as victims of their Nazi leaders (see also ‘Education for Death‘ from the same year). This contrary to the Japanese, who, in WWII animated propaganda films, were all treated as despicable, mean and low. The film also warns against panic and falling for false rumors.

Emotion is depicted as a rough, dumb, but fun-loving caveman, while Reason is a bespectacled thin and rather boring character. One cannot resist to love the Emotion-type, especially in its female form, as depicted in the woman’s head. This female character is animated with gusto by Ollie Johnston.

Watch ‘Reason and Emotion’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Directors: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
Release Date: June 26, 1943
Stars: Tom & Jerry
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Yankee Doodle Mouse © MGMIn this Tom and Jerry short their chase routine is pictured as if it were World War II itself.

War references include a periscope, a “jeep”, (paper) planes, a bomber (throwing light bulbs), a parachute (a bra), and lots of fireworks. Tom is the clear villain now, with Jerry acting the role of the brave American soldier. At the end of the cartoon Tom explodes in the sky revealing the American flag to which Jerry salutes.

Although not a real war cartoon (Tom and Jerry do not fight Nazis or anything like that), it is drenched in war spirit. Moreover, the short is extremely fast and furious, with gags coming without any break. No wonder it won an Academy Award.

Watch ‘Yankee Doodle Mouse’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Tom & Jerry cartoon No.11

To the previous Tom & Jerry cartoon: The Lonesome Mouse
To the next Tom & Jerry cartoon: Baby Puss

Director: Isao Takahata
Release Date: April 16, 1988
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Grave of the Fireflies © Studio GhibliBased on the semi-autobiographical novel by Akiyuki Nosaka, ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ is a strong, emotional and immensely sad film. It kicks in right away, when we hear Seita say “September 12, 1945. That was the night I died”.

What follows is Seita’s story: this boy, about fourteen, first loses his mother in the fire raid of Kobe, which destroys the wooden town completely. Then he and his little sister Setsuko try to live at their aunt’s place, but the initially kind woman grows increasingly hostile to them. So Seita decides to find his own living space for him and his sister in an abandoned shelter, first trying to get food by buying it, then by stealing. Unfortunately, Setsuko sickens from malnutrition, and while he finally has a real meal for her, she dies. Seita manages to build her funeral, but although not shown, the film suggests Setsuko’s death has broken his will, leading to his own death as depicted in the first scene.

The rather straightforward story is told with several flashbacks and flash-forwards and with a unique focus on details of everyday life, which really makes the two children come to life. The realism of ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ is unprecedented, the animation of Setsuko in particular being very lifelike, despite a less fluent animation technique. Never before has such a realistic and endearing child entered the animated screen.

The film’s subject matter, which confronts the Japanese viewer with the lowest point in their recent history, is daring and so is its execution, with its concise focus on human suffering, instead of heroism or action. The film makes the viewer really feel the impact of war on innocent civilians: the agony of shortages, hunger and despair, while the rest of the war remains at the background.  Takahata focuses on Seita’s love for his little sister, and his struggle to shield her from the effects of war. Seita is a sympathetic character, but not without flaws. His struggle to survive and to nurture his sister is heroic, but his decision to leave his aunt is also iinduced by pride, and it’s partly his own stubbornness that prevents him from reconciling with his aunt, which may have prevented Setsuko’s death. It’s hard to blame him, though, for he’s a child himself, after all.

‘Grave of the Fireflies’ is one of the most serious animation features ever made, dealing with war and death. It’s also very sad, bringing tears to the eyes of almost every viewer. Like ‘Animal Farm‘ (1954), ‘Le planète sauvage‘ (1973) or ‘Watership Down’ (1978), ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ is one of the few truly serious animation features, expanding the medium’s subject matter, and it’s a cinematic masterpiece by any standard.

‘Grave of the Fireflies’ was released as a double bill with ‘My Neighbour Totoro‘, which is equally classic, but very different in tone, indeed.

Watch the trailer for ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Peter Lord
Release Date: 1989
Rating: ★★½
Review:

War Story © AardmanWith ‘War Story’ the Aardman studio returned to their original lip-synch experiments with real dialogue.

This time they use an interview with one Bill Perry, an old man who tells his memories of his life in Bristol during World War II. Unlike the ‘Animated conversations’ series, however, there is room for goofy images exaggerating the tall tales of the voice over, which involve a slant house and lots of coal. The film’s images are very tongue-in-cheek, yet this film once again suffers from a bad soundtrack, and the old man’s mumblings are at times very difficult to follow, indeed.

The blending of real interviews with original and humorous images would be perfected in ‘Creature Comforts’ by Nick Park, who also animated on this film. In this sense ‘War Story’ is an important step towards Aardman’s mature style, which was to become less serious, and more cartoony, and consequently, more commercially successful.

Watch ‘War Story’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘War Story’ is available on the DVD ‘Aardman Classics’

Director: Dan Gordon
Release Date:
 April 26, 1943
Stars:
 Superman
Rating:
 ★★★★★ 
Review:

Jungle Drums © ParamountThe Superman cartoon ‘Jungle Drums’ blends the war theme with the adventure setting of ‘The Mummy Strikes‘.

This time the setting is a vague African island, populated by scary natives who are under control of some mysterious Nazis. They shoot an American plane out of the sky, which contains Lois and some secrets concerning the American fleet. While the natives try to burn Lois, Clark Kent/Superman only arrives just in time to save her.

Superman beats the Nazis, while Lois warns the US Air Force against Nazi submarines threatening the fleet. The last shot is that of an angered Hitler listening to the radio how his plans were frustrated.

Although this short, like most Superman cartoons, contains a weak and badly build story, it stands out for its great shots of scary natives, with their original camera angles, stark color designs and large shadows. The end result is arguably Superman’s best film.

Watch ‘Jungle Drums’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Superman film No. 15
To the previous Superman film: The Mummy Strikes
To the next Superman film: Underground World

Director: Isadore Sparber
Release Date: 
December 25, 1942
Stars:
 Superman
Rating:
 ★★★½
Review:

Destruction Inc. © Paramount‘Destruction Inc’ was Superman’s third war cartoon, after ‘Japoteurs‘ and ‘Eleventh Hour‘  from earlier that year. Like ‘Japoteurs’ it features saboteurs on American soil, a paranoid idea, well-fed by government propaganda.

This time the danger comes from the inside: some American gangster saboteurs threaten a munition plant. Lois discovers them at a factory, but she’s captured and put inside a torpedo. Luckily Superman is in the neighborhood, not as Clark Kent, but as an elderly general. However, he only arrives just in time to rescue Lois from a certain death in a short that belongs to Superman’s more entertaining films.

‘Destruction, Inc’ opens with a shot of someone being murdered. Such a shot would open the next film, ‘The Mummy Strikes‘, too.

Watch ‘Destruction, Inc.’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Superman film No. 13
To the previous Superman film: Eleventh Hour
To the next Superman film: The Mummy Strikes

Director: Dan Gordon
Release Date: November 20, 1942
Stars: Superman
Rating:
 ★★★
Review:

Eleventh Hour © Paramount‘Eleventh Hour’ is Superman’s second war cartoon, after ‘Japoteurs‘ from earlier that year. It’s one of the earliest World War II cartoons dealing with Japan.

In this short Superman himself is the saboteur, destroying ships, bridges, airports and tanks in Yokohama, Japan. The furious Japanese capture Lois, who stays with Clark Kent in Japan, and threaten Superman to execute her if he doesn’t stop his sabotage.

Superman reads this ultimatum all but too late and he’s only just in time to rescue Lois from the firing squad. Lois returns home, but Clark Kent stays behind, implying that Superman keeps on doing his sabotage work, a message that must have been comforting to the home-front.

The story of this cartoon is quite original, if not very well-constructed. Unfortunately, by now Superman has been reduced to an expressionless figure, making him a boring character to watch.

Watch ‘Eleventh Hour’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Superman film No. 12
To the previous Superman film: Showdown
To the next Superman film: Destruction, Inc.

Director: Jack King
Release Date: January 7, 1943
Stars: Donald Duck
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

The Spirit of '43 © Walt Disney‘The Spirit of ’43’ is the follow-up to ‘The New Spirit’ from the previous year. The second half is exactly the same, but the first half is even better than the first half of its predecessor, making a clever use of strong symbolic imaginary.

Donald just got paid and he’s divided between his two selves: the thrifty (a Scottish forerunner of Uncle Scrooge) and the spendthrift. These two characters struggle for Donald, in which they both fall down: the spendthrift into a tavern with a swastika-shaped swing-door and the thrifty into a wall, which, together with the stars his fall produces, resembles the American flag. This makes the decision for Donald easier, will he “spend for the axis or save for taxes”? He knocks his spendthrift side into the tavern, crushing the swastika door changing it into a V for victory. At this point the second half starts (see ‘The New Spirit‘ for a description of this part).

‘The Spirit of ’43’ is propaganda, and quite obviously so. But the film is both inventive and effective in its delivery of its message, and therefore surprisingly enjoyable.

Watch ‘The Spirit of ’43’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Bill Justice & Bill Roberts
Release Date: January 4, 1943
Rating: ★★½
Review:

The Grain That Built a Hemisphere © Walt Disney‘The Grain that Built a Hemisphere’ is a war time educational short about corn in quite a propagandistic fashion.

The Disney studios made it “under the auspices of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs”, which means that it belongs to the ca. ten films Disney made in the context of America’s ‘good-neighbor policy’ .

‘The Grain that Built a Hemisphere’ is the most propagandistic of the lot. Its tone is set right away when the narrator pompously boosts that “corn is the symbol of a spirit that links the Americas in a common bond of union and solidarity”.

Luckily, the main part of the film is quite insightful, explaining about the origin of corn, and what products it can produce. We learn how inbreeding is used to produce bigger plants and how it can be used as food for livestock (this section reuses footage from ‘Farmyard Symphony‘ from 1938) and as a source for oils, starch, glucose and sugar. And maybe, in the near future, for plastics for all kinds of war machines? Thus ends this educational film as a typical war propaganda short, after all…

Watch ‘The Grain that Built a Hemisphere’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Wilfred Jackson & Ben Sharpsteen
Release Date: January 23, 1942
Stars: Donald Duck
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

The New Spirit © Walt DisneyWhen the United States were forced into the war themselves, the government asked Disney to make a short to make the American citizens fill in their income tax forms in time. Disney gave them his biggest star of that time, Donald Duck, to play the everyman. The government was not impressed until the taxes came rolling in after the film was screened in cinemas.

In contrast to Disney’s earlier propaganda films for the Canadian government, this film uses entirely new animation, directed by Wilfred Jackson, and produced in the ridiculously short time period of a single month.

The short opens with Donald dancing to the energetic title song, which is sung by Cliff Edwards, the voice of Jiminy Cricket in ‘Pinocchio‘ (1940). The song is played on a slightly anthropomorphised radio. The radio then asks Donald if he wants to do his part for the country and Donald is growing more and more enthusiastic, until the radio reveals he has to pay his income tax. The radio has to persuade Donald once again, who grows enthusiastic again to the strong slogan ‘Taxes to beat the axis’ (with the axis referring to the Axis powers: Germany, Italy and Japan).

The film further explains the public how to fill in a new, simplified form, using an anthropomorphized pen, bottle of ink and blotter. Like the shorts Disney made earlier for the Canadian government (e.g. ‘The Thrifty Pig‘ and ‘7 Wise Dwarfs‘), the second half (directed by Ben Sharpsteen) consists of very limited and highly propagandistic animation with grim images of factories, guns, planes, war ships and tanks, while an intense narrator repeats the intoxicating mantra of ‘taxes to beat the axis’.

When he comes to the propagandist climax, the sentence “to beat to earth the evil destroyer of freedom and piece”, we watch a horrifying towering monster-like machine depicting the Nazi aggressor. This mechanical monster is defeated and makes place for a patriotic end shot with clouds resembling the American flag, tanks and guns rolling and planes flying accompanied by a heroic hymn, while the narrator tells us that “this is our fight”.

It’s important to note that the film goes at lengths to dehumanize the enemy. The average tax payer was not to help to kill people, but to destroy “the enemy”, in this case a vague mechanical monster. Succeeding propaganda films often eschewed the idea that making war is killing people, with the propaganda feature ‘Victory through Air Power’ (1943) being the prime example.

In case of “The New Spirit”, propaganda rarely was so obvious, but it works: after watching the picture I had its slogan in my head for days. Indeed, the film was so successful, that it got a follow-up the next year: ‘The Spirit of ’43‘.

Watch ‘The New Spirit’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Fred Beebe
Release Date: January 13, 1942
Stars: Clarabella Cow, Donald Duck, Figaro, Geppetto, Goofy, Horace Horsecollar, Huey, Dewey and Louie, Mickey Mouse, Pinocchio, Pluto, The Seven Dwarfs
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

All Together © Walt Disney‘All Together’ is the last and the shortest of the four propaganda films Disney made for the Canadian government.

In the first half we only see some Disney stars parading on patriotic march music in front of the Canadian parliament building in Ottawa. This short scene reuses animation from ‘Pinocchio‘ (Pinocchio, Geppetto and Figaro), ‘Good Scouts‘ (Donald and his nephews), ‘Bone Trouble‘ (Pluto), ‘The Band Concert‘ (Mickey and the gang), ‘Mickey’s Amateurs‘ (Goofy) and ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (the seven dwarfs, who are clearly singing and whistling, although their voices are not heard). ‘All Together’ is the only propaganda short to feature Pinocchio stars.

The second half uses powerful imaginary to persuade the public to buy war certificates. Of the new images, the most striking is the one of coins marching with bayonets.

‘All Together’ is image only. It doesn’t feature any kind of story, making it the least interesting of the four Canadian propaganda films.

Watch ‘All Together’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Ford Beebe
Release Date: January 11, 1942
Stars: Donald Duck
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Donald's Decision © Walt Disney‘Donald’s Decision is Walt Disney’s third short to persuade the Canadian public to buy war certificates.

This film has the same two-part formula as ‘The Thrifty Pig‘ and ‘7 Wise Dwarfs‘ from 1941. The first half combines reused footage from two Donald Duck shorts from 1938: ‘Self Control‘ and ‘Donald’s Better Self‘, but with altered voices. The second half resembles that of ‘The Thrifty Pig‘ and ‘7 Wise Dwarfs‘.

The result is less convincing than in the earlier two cartoons, probably because the source material is weaker. Neither ‘Self Control’ nor ‘Donald’s Better Self’ belong to Donald Duck’s best. Besides, Donald only reluctantly does his part, in great contrast to the optimistic pigs and dwarfs from the earlier shorts. Indeed, when Disney had to convince the American public for government purposes, the studio came up with completely new animation for its biggest star (in ‘The New Spirit‘ and ‘The Spirit of ’43‘).

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

Directors: Dick Lyford & Ford Beebe
Release Date: December 12, 1941
Stars: The Seven Dwarfs
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

7 Wise Dwarfs © Walt Disney‘7 Wise Dwarfs’ is Walt Disney’s second propaganda film for the Canadian government, and it uses the same two-part formula as the first (‘The Thrifty Pig‘), this time reusing animation from Walt Disney’s most famous film of all: ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (1937).

The first part of ‘7 Wise Dwarfs’ reuses animation of the seven dwarfs singing the mining song and ‘Hi-ho’, but with altered lyrics and backgrounds. There is some new animation of the Dwarfs entering and leaving the bank to buy war bonds. The second part is almost the same as that of ‘The Thrifty Pig’, ending with the same powerful image of planes gunning the words ‘Invest in Victory’. The Seven Dwarfs would return in ‘The Winged Scourge‘ (1943), which features a lot of new animation on them.

Watch ‘7 Wise Dwarfs’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Ford Beebe
Release Date: 1941
Stars: The Three Little Pigs
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

The Thrifty Pig © Walt DisneyBefore The United States were dragged into the war by Japan’s attack on Pearl harbor, December 7, 1941, Walt Disney Studio already had made four propaganda shorts for the Canadian government.

Canada, had declared war on Nazi Germany on September 10, 1939, a week after the United Kingdom, following Germany’s invasion of Poland, September 1.

‘The Thrifty Pig’ is the first of Disney’s four propaganda films commissioned by the Canadian government to persuade their citizens to buy war bonds to invest in the war effort. The other three being ‘7 Wise Dwarfs‘ (1941), ‘Donald’s Decision‘ (1942) and ‘All Together‘ (1942). It’s also Disney’s first propaganda cartoon.

‘The Thrifty pig’ consists of two parts, The first part cleverly reuses animation from Walt Disney’s most famous short, ‘Three Little Pigs‘ (1933), but in this shortened version the wolf wears a Nazi costume, the bricks are made of war bonds and the union jack is waving at the wise pig’s house. The only new animation is when the wolf’s blows reveal war bonds beneath the plaster and when the wise pig says “these bricks not only stop his blowing, they will also get him going”.

The second part is more overtly propagandistic and uses limited animation of war machines and slogans to persuade the public to buy “more and more war certificates”. The end shot, where a plane shoots the words ‘Invest in Victory’ on the screen’ is the most powerful image of the complete film.

This two part formula would be reused in all succeeding propaganda films that had to persuade the public to invest in the governmental war industry. Apart from the Canadian commissions, we see this structure in ‘The New Spirit‘ (1942) and ‘The Spirit of ’43‘ (1943), which had to persuade American citizens to pay their income taxes in time.

Watch ‘The Thrifty Pig’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack Kinney
Release Date: July 30, 1943
Stars: Goofy, Pluto (cameo)
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Victory Vehicles © Walt Disney‘Victory Vehicles’ is the only entirely war-themed Goofy short (although the end of ‘How to be a Sailor’ (1944) refers to the war, too). It’s no army cartoon, however. Instead, the cartoon parodies propagandistic shorts of the time, using a patriotic voice over and dealing with the (real) problem of rubber shortage.

‘Victory Vehicles’ introduces various silly inventions that should replace the car as a form of transportation. The solution finally settles on the pogo-stick: “the answer to a nation’s needs”.

‘Victory Vehicles’ is a very enjoyable cartoon in its silly satire. It’s also a nice window to the shortage problems of World War II America. The film contains a very catchy theme song called ‘Hop on your Pogo Stick’, and a short cameo by Pluto.

‘Victory Vehicles’ is an important landmark in the Goofy series, because it marks Goofy’s graduation from single character to the prototypical everyman. In this short various types of Goofies can be seen, including women and children. They are provided with different voice overs, emphasizing that every Goofy we see is a different one.

Of all evolutions of a cartoon star, this is the most remarkable one. The thirties Goof, with his all too recognizable character traits has been transformed into an everyman who could be anybody, and, at the same time, still be Goofy.

Other directors would return to the original Goofy in cartoons like ‘Foul Hunting‘ (Jack Hannah, 1947) and ‘The Big Wash‘ (Clyde Geronimi, 1948), but Jack Kinney would stick to the everyman Goofy, making the most hilarious cartoons with this character.

This is Goofy cartoon No. 10
To the previous Goofy cartoon: How to Fish
To the next Goofy cartoon: How to be a Sailor

Director: Jack King
Release Date: July 30, 1942
Stars: Minnie Mouse, Pluto
Rating:
 ★★★
Review:

Out of the Frying Pan into the Firing Line © Walt Disney‘Out of the Frying Pan into the Firing Line’ is a short propaganda film aimed at American housewives.

In this propaganda short, Minnie is just about to give Pluto some hot bacon grease, when the narrator interrupts, telling housewives of America to save their kitchen fats in order to deliver them at a “neighborhood meat dealer, who is patriotically cooperating”. The fats are apparently used to make glycerine, which is used in ammunition.

This short contains a rare picture of Mickey as a soldier at the front. Otherwise, Mickey was left out of the propaganda, leaving that role to Donald Duck.

‘Out of the Frying Pan into the Firing Line’ is an interesting example of how the American government tried to make every citizen help in the war effort. It shows how World War II entered the life of the average citizen: even kitchen grease could be useful… It offers no one-liner, however, at the likes of the contemporary slogans  ‘Save Your Scraps to Bomb the Japs’ or ‘Is Your Trip Really Necessary?”

Watch ‘Out of the Frying Pan into the Firing Line’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Ben Sharpsteen
Release Date: July 21, 1942
Stars: The Three Little Pigs (in a cameo)
Rating:
 ★★★★
Review:

Food Will Win the War © Walt DisneyArguably the most ridiculous of all war time propaganda cartoons, ‘Food Will Win the War’ tells us about the successes of American agriculture.

A bombastic narrator makes all kinds of outrageous comparisons to illustrate the farmer’s huge production. Examples are baking all fruits of America into one big pie or frying all America’s meat on four Vesuvius volcanoes. The result is so absurd and its message so out to lunch that the short is actually great fun to watch.

Throughout the cartoon the animation is very limited, almost absent. The limited animation gives the short a poster-like quality. Full animation is limited to four short sequences:

1) a bowling ball bowling down skittles which resemble Hitler, Mussolini and a Japanese general
2) a giant pie thrown at the earth
3) Chickens laying eggs
4) The three little pigs leading an army of pigs.

‘Food Will Win the War’ was the last animated short directed by Ben Sharpsteen. In the 1940s he had moved more and more towards production. He would supervise the production of a.o. ‘Fun and Fancy Free‘ (1947), ‘Cinderella‘ (1950) and ‘Alice in Wonderland‘ (1951) before moving to live action, working on Disney’s True-Life Adventures (1948-1960). He retired in 1962.

Watch ‘Food Will Win the War’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Jack King
Release Date: November 6, 1942
Stars: Donald Duck, Pete
Rating:
 ★★★½
Review:

Sky Trooper © Walt DisneySky Trooper’ is the third of six shorts dealing with Donald in the army.

The cartoon starts where ‘Donald Gets Drafted‘ ended: with Donald peeling potatoes. And like in the former cartoon Donald Duck wants to fly.

Sergeant Pete gives him a chance, letting him do some ridiculous test and sending him up to be a paratrooper. Unfortunately, Donald doesn’t want to jump and clings to Sergeant Pete. They both end up falling without a parachute but with a huge bomb in their hands. Surprisingly, they survive the fall, because in the end-shot we can see them both peeling potatoes.

‘Sky Trooper’ is surprisingly similar to the Woody Woodpecker cartoon ‘Ace in the Hole’ from five months earlier. However, the cartoon is an improvement on the former two Donald Duck army cartoons. The next ones would even be better…

Watch ‘Sky Trooper’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Donald Duck cartoon No. 36
To the previous Donald Duck cartoon: The Vanishing Private
To the next Donald Duck cartoon: Bellboy Donald

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