Donald Duck is one of those Disney characters that sort of annoys, then
can really make me laugh. He's not sweet like the Mickey Mouse of the
1930s, nor is he a complete goof like Goofy. Donald Duck sometimes
represents the human side of nature. He's temperamental, occasionally
sweet (to his girlfriend Daisy), and usually gets in way over his head.
Donald Duck is perhaps the most human of all Disney's cartoon
characters, and that's what I like about him.
The third Walt Disney Treasures, "The Chronological Donald: Volume
Three, 1947-1950" is now on DVD.
Although many of my favorite Donald Duck era of cartoons came out after
1950, there are some very funny gems in this collection. We meet Chip 'n
Dale and get to see the opening title sequences from "The Mickey Mouse
Club," in which Donald tries to upstage Mickey.
I haven't seen these shorts in a long time. "Donald's Dilemma" (1947) is
one of my favorites. Donald gets hit on the head by a flower pot and
suddenly can sing like Bing Crosby. The comic story with Daisy trying to
adjust to her boyfriend's new popularity with adoring fans, let alone
his new voice, is hilarious. In "Sea Salts" (1949), Donald and a tiny
beetle share a lifelong friendship, though Donald is up to his usual
sneakiness. The cartoon still manages to be touching as the Duck shows
his kinder side. "Crazy Over Daisy" (1950) evokes Walt Disney's 1900s
America. Donald is thwarted by Chip 'n Dale on his old fashioned
bicycle. The direction and animation is excellent on these shorts. The
"three Jacks," Jack King, Jack Kinney, and Jack Hannah, directed most of
the shorts on these DVDs. Warner Bros. has received acclaim for its
fast-paced shorts and comedic timing, but Disney's Donald shorts (along
with some Goofy shorts) were no less spontaneous.
For Baby Boomers, and their kids, it's great to see the original Donald
Duck opening titles on "The Mickey Mouse Club." These are scattered
around on the two DVDs as Easter Eggs. Once I found them, they're a kick
to watch again. Donald always tried to upstage Mickey and usually ended
up in a bad result. I remembered the charm of these openings, even
though I saw these in syndication during the 1970s. (If memory serves,
the syndicated openings were shorter than the full versions presented on
these discs.) Every time I hear the "Mickey Mouse Club" theme, I still
sing out "Donald Duck!" The gags are funny here, and I'm still amazed
with how good the animation was for this television show. It was always
funny seeing what would happen to Donald after he struck the gong.
You'll have to search for two additional shorts on Disc Two, "Donald's
Happy Birthday" (1949), and "Bee At The Beach" (1950). Leonard Maltin
introduces the shorts with a reminder that these cartoons were made in
less "correct" times. In "Donald's Happy Birthday," Donald's nephews,
Huey, Dewey, and Louie, order a box of cigars, but are shown the
consequences of smoking by "Unca" Donald. You have to watch the whole
cartoon to get the gag. I'm not sure if it was necessary to warn the
audience of political incorrectness contained in these films. But I'd
rather have the warning than nothing at all. These shorts are too good
to be missed because of today's perception of the wrongs of yesteryear.
I'd even go so far as to say these cartoons, for the most part, are tame
by today's standards. One can't escape a cartoon today without some
Maltin deserves credit for putting his heart and effort into bringing
all of the Walt Disney Treasures into the spotlight. The Donald Duck
shorts, for example, have been on video in some shape or form. But
they've never been given this kind of gold star treatment. Maltin's
introductions and interviews, as always, are top-notch. The transfers
look natural and reflect the look of film.
The shorts are underscored by composer Oliver Wallace. I'm not sure if
he also wrote the "Donald Duck" theme, but in my opinion, it ranks up
there with the "Mickey Mouse March." The theme is catchy and fits right
in with the Donald cartoons.
Donald may not be easy to understand, and he's got a rough personality.
In fact, his rivals, Chip 'n Dale, are difficult to understand, too! But
Donald is welcome in my DVD player anytime.
Photos: © Disney. All rights reserved.
Some funny duck shorts from 1947-1950
Cast: Donald Duck, Chip 'n Dale
Donald in his title sequences on the
original "Mickey Mouse Club" (seen as Easter Eggs)
color is excellent
Aspect Ratio (1.33:1)
Dolby Digital 2.0
DVD RELEASE DATE
December 11, 2007