The Screening Room
THE STUDIO GATE
Some of my favorite short cartoons come from Donald Duck. Out of all the
Disney cartoon characters, with the exception of Goofy, Donald could
easily get laughs from me.
"The Chronological Donald: Volume Four 1951-1961" is now available on DVD.
The shorts contained in this 2-disc set are some of the funniest to come
out of the Disney Studio. The studio is usually associated with its
exceptional animation and re-working of fairy tales. But there were
several very humorous shorts that were on par with the best of the
Warner Bros. "Looney Tunes." All the slapstick gags and chases that
Donald endures are plenty funny.
Back in the 1980s, Disney released a series of videotapes featuring its
collection of cartoon shorts. Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald were
prominently featured on their own tapes. Among my favorites were the
Donald shorts, and this new DVD set has them in glorious condition. I'd
been waiting for a long time to see these cartoons again.
I got the most laughs out of "The New Neighbor," a fast paced cartoon
that features Donald trying to outwit his new neighbor. Another funny
one is "Donald's Diary," which tells a hilarious tale of Donald falling
in love with Daisy. What's fascinating is how the shorts poke fun at
society and human behavior, and most of these gags hold up today. Nearly
everyone has had an obnoxious neighbor, and married couples have had
those situations when the in-laws take over the house. Both of these
shorts keep the gags coming fast and furious.
Donald goes far beyond the slapstick comedy, though his character is
perfect for it. His temper and occasional kindness was excellent
territory for possibilities. He was the only major Disney character,
other than Humphrey Bear, to receive treatment in the widescreen format
of CinemaScope. Much to the credit of the animators, "Grand CanyonScope"
utilizes the widescreen format with hilarious results. Donald also
appeared in the 3-D short, "Working for Peanuts" and it's featured on
this set, but not in 2-D. Don't let that discourage you from watching.
Chip & Dale were great foils for Donald and they're hilarious here.
The discs also have a number of other classic Donald shorts including a
personal Halloween favorite, "Trick Or Treat," featuring the wonderful
June Foray. And I was overjoyed (really) to see that Disney has included
"Donald in Mathmagic Land," a classic that I and many kids enjoyed
watching in school. What a kick to see this again, and this time, not on
a scratched 16mm print! Donald finds himself in Mathmagic Land, lost in
a land of numbers and geometric shapes. The great Paul Frees voices the
longer than usual short. Leonard Maltin introduces the DVD and mentions
that math wasn't one of his best subjects. I hated the subject in school. This
Disney short showed how fascinating math could be if explained in
Walt received some criticism over the years of supposedly dumbing down
history or education. I think his approach was perfectly acceptable. In
the case of "Mathmagic Land," the education didn't pander to its
audience. It treated the audience as if it knew something about math. By
using Donald, Walt and his animated crew found the perfect guide.
Disney has once again done a superb job on their "Walt Disney Treasures"
series. I've been somewhat critical of their "restorations" of some of
their classic animated features. But on this series, which I hope
continues, they've really nailed the quality. The picture on most of the
shorts is natural and not overly digitized to look brand-new to today's
audiences. The grain that is present is film grain, and it's nothing to
be scared about! The CinemaScope shorts are presented in two-channel stereo here and sound
Donald Duck usually didn't get a lot of respect in cartoons, but he's
been given the royal treatment on this new DVD set. Bravo and well-done,
Special thanks to Click Communications
Photos: © BVHE. All rights reserved.
DVD Quick Glimpse
Great to see Donald again!
Cast: Clarence "Ducky" Nash, Thurl Ravenscroft
Leonard Maltin and Jerry Beck commentary, TV
episodes from "Mouse Works," and more
Sound: Very Good
Some of the funniest Donald Duck cartoons came
from this era
Aspect Ratio (1.33:1)
Aspect Ratio (2.55:1)
Dolby Digital 2.0
DVD RELEASE DATE
November 11, 2008