Donald Duck, since his creation in 1934, has grown from second bannana to quite possibly the most iconic and influential cartoon figure of all time. Yes, we would definately take that debate up against both Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny.
Walt Disney himself is the credited creator of Donald Duck. Donald's premiere came in the form of a Silly Symphonies animayed short called "The Wise Little Hen." Clarence Nash was tapped to do the voice of Donald after Disney heard several different voices in succession. Nash would continue to provide the voice of Donald Duck until the early 1980/s with Mickey's Christmas Carol in animated features and shorts. This was a level of distinctive continuity not actually enjoyed by other Disney characters with thier voices. From the beginning, Donald's distinctive personality would begin to develop. There are four major traits to Donald's personality. First, thier is Donald's famously short temper. Second, there is Donald's distinctive voice (which may be referred to as an impediment) that colors his communications. This inability to communicate can sometimes lead to Donald's famously short temper. The third telling part of Donald's personality is his feeling of being a second bannana or secondary character. This is most famously envisioned by Donald's rivalry with Mickey Mouse. However, the put upon attitude can even be seen in films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? with his piano duet with Daffy Duck. a topic with the importance of Donald Duck really has to be examined decade by decade as well as in the multiple forms of media in which Donald appears.
After Donald became a success in The Wise Little Hen, the very next feature would force him to share the stage with Mickey Mouse and Goofy. The result was 1934's Orphan's Benefit in which Donald would perform in front of unruly orphans. This is established several key elements of what would make Donald so enduring. Orphan's Benefit was the first time that Donald would have to share the stage with Mickey Mouse. This is also the first time to use Donald's famous 'fighting pose.' Donald's short temper is only matched by his hunger for the spotlight. Donald even comes back on stage to do an encore performance of Mary Had A Little Lamb (which was a touch that Clarence Nash personally added to the character. Orphan's Benefit would be remade from black and white to technicolor in 1941 as Orphans' Benefit. Intermittently, the mouse orphans in the short would also appear as Mickey's relatives in later shorts. 1934 would round out Donald's first year with a third short entitled The Dognapper. The Dognapper would again pair Mickey and Donald in black and white as well black and white's. In this cartoon, they are put against dognapper Pegleg Pete to rescue Minnie's dog Fifi. Eventually, Donald, Mickey and Pegleg are run down by Pegleg's runaway saw which catches Pegleg. Trapped, Mickey and Donald capture Pegleg and the final scene shows a freed Fifi yapping out against Pegleg.
1935 - 1935 would continue Donald's streak of backing up Mickey Mouse in Mickey Mouse cartoons. One of the most critically acclaimed as well as remembered in the Disney short canon would kick off 1935 for Donald. The short was called The Band Concert. In the short, Donald is an uninvited participant in the act. Donald is seen playing a flute. First, Donald fights off a bee with ice cream. Donald then joins the band as they summon a tornado towards them. By the time the tornado hits, the band is so used to distraction that they continue to play even through the twister. The second short of 1935 was Mickey's Service Station. Mickey and Donald helm an auto repair shop in this one. They are tasked with repairing an apparently freed Dognapper Pegleg Pete's auto from making noise. The noise the car is making is actually a horn that sing Yankee Doodle Dandy. The duo tears apart the entire car and rebuilds the car while the annoyance refuses to stop. The third short of 1935 is Mickey's Fire Brigade. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy take on the role of firefighters in this one with hilariously inept results. After bumbling through the building, the trio realizes that Clarabelle Cow is still inside the building. The problem? Clarabelle is taking a bath and is none to plussed about the intrusion from three male firefighters. Clarabelle never realizes that she is in a burning building or needs saving from the fire. Finally, using Goofy as a battering ram, the trio knocks Clarabelle and her bath down the ladder to safety. Clarabellle thanks the trio by continuing to beat them with her brush in broad daylight outside. Clarabelle still did not realize the building was on fire. The fourth and final short of 1935 is On Ice. On Ice takes place on a frozen lake with Mickey, Goofy, and Donald in seemingly unrelated storylines. Mickey is attempting to skate with Minnie. Donald attempts to put ice skates on the dog Pluto and lures Pluto out into the frozen lake. Goofy is using tobbacco to attempt to fish on the lake. After Donald starts sailing a kite, Donald flies into the air. Mickey attempts to save Donald with grabbing a hold of Donald's sweater which quickly becomes unraveled. The three storylines are finally brought together when Donald lands in Goofy's fishing hole. Goofy continues to fish.
1936 - (1836 opens with Mickey's Polo Team. Mickey's Polo Team is an animated short that brings together Walt Disney's love of polo as well as Disney's love and affection for Hollywood stars. Mickey's team consists of Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Donald and The Big Bad Wolf. as a charachteristic slap in the face, Donald is forced to ride a donkey instead of a horse. The Disney cartoon team takes on the Movie Star team . The movie star team has real life comic legends in animated form. The movie stars are Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, and Harpo Marx (riding an ostrich.) The crowd has Disney stars sitting next to real life stars of the day such as Greta Garbo and Clark Gable. Next, Donald would have to suffer through the mouse orphan's again in Orphan''s Picnic. The mischevious little rodent orphans would again torment Donald. The first torment that the Orphans place upon Donald is to eat all of his food. The orphans then hand Donald a flower with a bee inside of the flower. This action leads to the whole bee's nest coming after Donald. Finally, seeing the error of thier ways, the orphans make a concillatory sandwich for Donald. Of course, the sandwich contains a bee insdie of it. The third cartoon of 1936 is a watershed moment in many ways for our lovable rapscallion. The short is titled Donald And Pluto. Although this is listed as a Mickey Mouse cartoon, Mickey never actually appears in the cartoon. This marks the first time since The Wise Little Hen that Donald appears in a cartoon without Mickey Mouse. Also, Donald's neck and bill are both shortened giving Donald the characteristic look that we are more in tune with today. Donald's body is now slimmer and his feet are rounder as well. As a plumber working on pipes, Donald and Pluto face what seems to be an almost sentient magnet attempting to throw pipes thier way. Since Pluto is sometimes seen as Mickey's dog, it can be assumed that this is Mickey Mouse's house being worked on. The respite from appearing with the infernal Mouse is short lived. Donald would next tackle Mickey's Grand Opera. The opera features Mickey as the conductor of the band. The opera is Romeo and Juliet. Donald plays Romeo and Clara fills in as Juliet. Pluto is seen as a nuisance early on by Mickey. Mickey shoos Pluto off stage where Pluto finds a magician's hat. Mickey has a rather famously bad relationship with all things magic. First, Pluto releases an annoying menagerie of doves and rabbits. The carnage continues ala the earlier band when the magic hat falls into a tuba blowing out more carnage as well as more animals. Moving Day attempts to address,albiet comedically, some of the more serious issues of the day with the Great Depression. Pete is trying to move roommate's Donald and Mickey out of thier house. Pete also wants to use all of thier stuff as collaterall for lost rent. Donald and Mickey resolve to pack as much of thier stuff as possible in to Goofy's truck before they leave. This is somehow including a very angry piano. Yes, piano. Donald gets caught between a fishbowl on his head and a plunger on his rump. Inadvertently, Donald also opens up a free gas line. When Pete comes to sneer and kick them out, Pete makes what should be a fatal mistake of lighting a match on Donald's bill. In the ensuing mushroom cloud explosion, most of the materials inside the house stack themselves on Goofy's truck. As Donald is laughing at and taunting Pete in the final sequence, the plunger lands on Donald's tail re-attaching itself. The penultimate film of 1936 is Alpine Climbers.. Alpine Climber is a dleightfully slapstick little adventure that features Mickey, Donald, and Pluto as well... climbers in the Alps. The comedic mis adventure mostly centers around encounters with local wildlife up and down the mountain. Most of these entanglements have to do with a nest as well as a newly hatching chick. 1936 ends for Donald in what can be considered to be the horribly mistitled Mickey's Circus. The majority of the action in the short actually centers around Donald. Donald has an act featuring Sea Lions, but one of the young pup Sea Lions continues to try and interupt the show. This leads to a classic Donald consternation and tantrum. The folly of this leads to Mickey and Donald performing an impromptu high wire act as well as getting shot out of a canon. This is all much to the delight of the crowd, who are unsuspecting the shenanigans were not all part of the act in the first place.
1937 - Don Donald is a signifigant milestone in many respects for Donald Duck cartoons. First, this is the first animated short to feature a Donald Duck title card. Don Donald , while still billed as a Mickey Mouse cartoon, features Donald in a starring role and not as a complimentary one. Don Donald also features a love interest for Donald named 'Donna' and not 'Daisy.' Donna never again appears in a cartoon but is later seen as a rival to Daisy in other media. The plot of Don Donald mostly falls around Donald's modes of transportation interfering with his love live. Donald starts off the cartoon in Mexico wearing a sombrero riding on a burro. The burro causes Donna to spill into mud which leaves a laughing Donald in the lurch. Donald then punishes the burro by trading him in for a car. Donna runs back to Donald after Donald gets the car. However, the car is not a fan of Donald either. The car breaks down and starts to fight Donald. While Donald is 'fixing' the car, the car takes off on its own and Donna is forced down into the trunk off of the rumble seat. When the car is finally stopped and destroyed, Donna is again embarassed and leaves. The burro escapes from the trading post and laughs at Donald as he winds up taking a mud bath. Magician Mickey brings Mickey Mouse back to a rather unfortunate running connection with magic. Donald finally gets to take some frustration out on his mouse counterpart by heckling Mickey during Mickey's own magic show. Mickey retaliates by using magic on Donald. Memorably, Mickey makes Donald spit out playing cards. Donald responds with anger as well as violence to his heckling having gone awry. Donald takes possession of a flare gun that brings the whole theater down around everyone. Apparently, all had been forgiven by the time of Moose Hunters. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are now hunting moose in the great northwest. Donald and Goofy decide to attract a moose by dressing up as a female moose. They even go so far as to apply 'moose perfume' to thier lady moose. Some pland work out a little too well as they do attract the raging amor, attention , and hormones of a male moose. The 'hunters' are reduced to the hunted as the male moose tries to catch and copulate with the new girl in town. However, while Goofy and Donald are with the fake female moose. Mickey has used leaves to bring another male moose into the equation. The two Moose fight over the female moose until the deception is revealed. The moose then chase all three 'hunters' out of the forest. Modern Inventions follows Donald as he travels through the 'Museum of Modern Marvels.' Many of the inventions shown have either never come to be or are still a bit too futuristic in this day and age. The main running gag of the short is that Donald keeps having his hat removed by a 'helpful' Robot Butler. Most of the inventions in the Museum both rue and loathe Donald almost on sight. The Robot Butler for example continues to put the wrong hat back onto Donald. After many attacks by futuristic equiptment, Donald is finally seated in a robotic barber chair. Of course the chair ends up cutting off Donald's tail feather and giving a nice shoe shine to his duckbill. Donald's next adventure with Goofy and Mickey starts out a bit more enjoyably. In Hawaiian Holiday, Donald and friends start off what seems to be a fun day at the beach. This would be until Donald's hula skirt catches on fire. Goofy is rather determined to master the art of surfing. Rather than mastery, Goofy ends up literally buried by a wave.. complete with a tombstone. A true classic to come out of this year was Clock Cleaners. The seemingly fearless ego, super ego, and id trio of Goofy, Mickey, and Donald take on clock cleaning with hilarious results. The short would actually lead to a modern controversy with another Donald. In one xsegment of Clock Cleaners, Donald encounters a spring which irritatingly mimics everything he says. At one point, Donald screams in his broken language "SAYS YOU!!!" To which the echo spring responds "SAYS I!!!" The American Family Association in the 1990s thought the Donald had actually just screamed "F*** YOU!!!" at the spring and demanded that Wal-Mart remove a compilation containing the now foul mouthed duck. Later, the cartoon was re-dubbed with the line "Aw, Nuts!!" from Donald's appearance in On Ice.. The short was also included on the DVD from The Great Mouse Detective as a bonus feature. Donald's Ostrich would be the first and only theatrical appearance of Donald's pet ostrich Hortense. The ostrich does come with the warning that she will eat anything. Hortense then proceeds to do exactly that. This is more than a minor annoyance that becomes a major problem when Hortense actually ends up eating Donald's radio. Hortense also develops a case of the hiccups. Donald tries to scare the hiccups out of Hortense which ends with her crashing through a door. Hortense spits out the radio. However, Donald is the one that ends up with the hiccups. 1937 ends out the year with a true classic. This is Lonesome Ghosts. This is actually the originator of the line "I ain't afraid of no ghosts.' The lonesome ghosts call up Donald, Mickey, and Goofy's ghost hunting agency because they are tired of having no one to haunt. The three Ghostbusters oblige the Ghost's wishes by showing up and the Ghost's plans are going swimmingly for a while. However, when the three heroes are doused with flower and appear to be a bigger scarier ghost, the Lonesome Ghosts run away from thier own haunt in fear.
1938 - 1938 kicks off with Donald attempting for the first time to deal with his long standing anger management issues in a short entitled Self Control. In Self Control, Donald is confronted by a radio program attempting to use music therapy to control temper. Donald is confident that he will not lose control. First, there is a fly that lands on his feet. Next, a worm crawls down his leg. Donald is then confronted by a chicked trying to eat the worm. Finally, a woodpecker viciously antogonizes Donald. Donald resolves the anger management issue by taking a shotgun and shooting the radio. Boat Builders sees Donald attempt with Mickey and Goofy to build a boat "so simple a child could do it." Well, someone should have found a brilliant child stat because these three are not about to cut it. Finally, after much predictable consternation, they do get the boat together. Appropiately named the Queen Minnie, the boat collapses into a mess of parts on its first maiden voyage. Donald's Better Self classically introduces the better Donald and the worse Donald. Better Donald is dressed in an angels robes and has a higher female voice. Worse Donald is dressed as a classic devil with horns and has a lower raspy voice. Better Donald wants Donald to simply go to school and be 'good.' Worse Donald wants Donald to sleep in, go fishing, and smoke. Donald gives into Worse Donald but the fishing goes badly and the smoking makes him sick. After a sound thrashing by Better Donald, Worse Donald leaves and Donald goes to school. An early example of the running animation convention of having an arguing angel and devil on your shoulder. 1938 also saw the release of Donald's Nephews which gave us the first appearance of Huey, Duey and Louie. Far from the loveable scamps they will develop into, the primary purpose of the nephew is originally to cause all sorts of havoc and violence in Donald's life. Donald tries his best with Della's children by consulting a book called Modern Child Training to no avail at all. They feed him hot mustard, burst a water balloon on him while he is playing a piano, and play a game of croquet in Donald's living room. After the little hellions leave, Donald sees a page in the book that says "after all, children are just angels without wings.' Donald explodes with frustration and rips the book to shreds. Donald's nephews would appear again in The Good Scouts as well as Donald's Golf Game the same year. The Good Scouts was a particular bit of character growth for both Donald as well as Huey, Duey, and Louie. First of all, in taking the role of a scoutmaster, Donald is shown for the first time in a leadership role. Previously. Donald was only shown as a worker or as a victim of circumstance. The episode also shows the beginnings of maturity for the nephews as well. The nephews bandage up Donald when they think he is bleeding. They also save him from a bear when Donald has wandered into honey. This is all a signifigant departure from the boys who simply destroyed Donald's house and went away. Other shorts in 1938 included The Fox Hunt, The Whalers, and Mickey's Trailer.
1939 - Donald would appear in 9 short films in 1939. Of these, the notable ones are Sea Scouts, Autograph Hound, and Donald's Cousin Gus. The others are The Standard Parade, Donald's Lucky Day, The Hockey Champ, Beach Picnic, Donald's Penguin, and Officer Duck. Sea Scouts further alongs Donald's relationship with his nephews Huey, Duey and Louie. Donald is eager to show his nephews his expertise in sailing. After all, he had been wearing a sailor suit for years now. Donald and his nephews all prove to be less than adept sailors but they do manage to not get eaten by a shark. The not getting eaten by a shark is really important to further development. Donald's Cousin Gus (in addition to introducing Gus Goose) was the first pre-recorded film to be played on NBC on television. Autograph Hound allowed Donald to go back into polo territory as Disney again managed to caricature many of the stars in the 1930s heyday. Donald runs into Mickey Rooney, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, the Marx Brothers, Lone Ranger and Silver, Joan Crawford and many many other stars of the day.
In the decade of the 1940s, Donald Duck appeared in over 70 animated shorts and films. We will recount for you more than a few of the hightlights of a momentous decade to be a Duck.
Mr. Duck Steps Out - (June 7th, 1940) Donald is nice enough to bring his nephews along on a date. Far from being creepy, it appears to be the start of a beautiful relationship. We are first introduced to that wonderous paramour in Donald's life Daisy Duck (no relation). Daisy is seen early on wearing a red dress as opposed to later development into a pre-dominantly pink girl. Everyone gets a shot at dancing with Daisy. Just don't get the idea that she is some sort fo pass around Duck. The younger Ducks are eventually helpful when they pop corn in Donald's shirt. This causes Donald to dance wildly and Daisy to fall in love. At the end of the affair, Donald is covered in happy lipstick red duck shaped kisses.
Orphan's Benefit - (August 22nd, 1941) Like Gus Van Sant's Psycho, this is a shot for shot remake of the 1934 short starring Mickey and Donald. It was an early revision attempt by Walt Disney to update some of the earlier shorts with color as well as the updated and refined character designs from the last few years. As such, the 1941 version stabds out as a Donald's first remake in color of an earlier black and white model. This must have inspired Ted Turner for the better part of a .. life time.
The New Spirit - (January 23rd, 1942) Donald Duck entered the World War 2 war effort with The New Spirit. The New Spirit was actually co-produced by the Walt Disney corporation as well as the U.S. Department of The Treaury for the United States propoganda effort for World War 2. The film was distributed by the War Activities Committee of the Motion Picture Industry. This is exactly what it sounds like. The cartoon starts with Donald Duck singing a patriotic song. Donald is then interupted with the sound of a radio voice insisting that Donald is not being a patriotic enough. As a matter of fact, Donald could be filling out a check to bolster the war effort right now. The voice tells Donald how to properly fill out a 1040 tax form. This portrays a new tax increase in a positive patriotic light. After all, you are buying much needed supplies for your troops. Donald is not satisfied with merely mailing the payment. Donald traipses across country to Washington DC to give his part in person. The radio announcer the announces the Four Freedoms (which would bew painted by no less a source than Norman Rockwell) - ie - freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of expression and speech as well as freedom to worship. Treasury head Henry Morgenthau, Jr. pushed the cartoon as a way to may the new income taxes more palatable to an emerging economy from the Great Depression. The specific being promoted was the Revenue Act of 1942. The cartoon ends with a historically patriotic montage of American music and imagery. Donald was good at his job as well. 1942 marked the fatest Americans had ever paid thier taxes early.
Symphony Hour - (March 20th, 1942) In what is essentially a shortened remake of The Band Concert in technicolor, the Symphony Hour is interesting as well as notable for a few reasons. This is the last appearence of Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow, and and Clara Cluck until the re-appear in Mickey's Christmas Carol. Mickey's Christmas Carol was released in 1983. Goofy nearly sabotages the whole event by dropping the instruments under an elevator. Donald is disgusted and tries to leave. The next part generally gets cut out of the Disney Channel re-airings. Mickey then actually pulls out a frekin' gun to Donald's head in order to get him back on stage. The sweating Duck complies and helps to finish out the concert.
Donald Gets Drafted - (May 1st, 1942) Donald's enthusiasm for the war effort depended largely on who was writing him. This particular short was written by Carl Barks (who will be discussed in much greater detail in a later section). Barks was a pacifist who was against the United States involvement in World War 2. As such, Barks wanted to draw a strong distinction between the propoganda (which ironically featured Donald) and the realities of war and the war effort. The short starts out with a familiar and enthusiastic Donald wanting to do his patriotic duty and join the war effort. Donald has been drafted. Donald wants to join the Army Air Corps (becuase he comes from a long line of fliers and avaitors). Donald is poked, prodded, and measured for service. The second part of the short focuses not on the glory of war but rather an animated cleaned up Full Metal Jacket. Pete is back as the villainous drill sergeant. An errant gunfire actually shoots Pete during the course of the skit. Donald is a total screw up in basic which leads to the end of glorious duty peeling a stack of potatoes.
The Vanishing Private - (September 25th, 1942) - Donald is once again put under Sgt. Pete and order to paint camoflauge on a cannon. The job goes too well and Pete thinks that the cannon has been stolen. Pete finds Donald in the cannon and a chase scene is on. The trouble is that Donald has now gone as invisible as the cannon. The leads Donald to be able to confound his sergeant. After getting pelted by pies, Pete runs into a General. Pete is beside himself about Donald's behavior. Donald pokes Pete with the General's sword leading to a struggle. The struggle ends in Pete as well as the General being caught in a multiple grenade explosion. This lands Pete in a padded room still talking about the invisible private. Donald ends up guarding Pete's padded cell. When Pete begs Donald to tell everyone the truth, Donald responds "Do you want them to think I'M Crazy?" Donald's multifaceted and somewhat nuanced look at the war as well as military service continues.
Sky Trooper - (Novemeber 6th, 1942) - Donald begins this short in the familiar position of peeling potatoes from some unspecified offense. Donald has still not realized his ambition from Donald Gets Drafted of serving on a flight mission. As a flight of fancy, Donald peels a potato in the shape of an airplane and tosses the potato at Sgt Pete's head (who apparently got better after the whole insanity thing) and Pete responds violently. Donald then cuts an airplane out of Pete's beret. Pete tells Donald that he can get flight time after peeling the next mountain of potatoes. Donald does and ends up in an airplane...,as a paratrooper. As Sgt Pete and Donald struggle out of the plane and on the way down, they have both earned punishment by the Army. So, they are now peeling potatoes....together.
Der Fuehrer's Face - (January 1st, 1943) Der Fuehrer's Face is quite simply put one of the most important cartoons or short subjects produced in the 20th Century. The short film features a band with members Emperor Hirohito, Hermann Goring, Joseph Goebbels, and Benito Moussolini. Donald is forced at bayonet point to go to a Nazi factory. As he travels to the factory, the Nazi Swastikas and symbols are everywhere. Once in the factory, Donald is forced to screw caps on warheads. Some of the war heads are as large (if not larger) than Donald himself. The increasing speed of the assembly line adds to the insanity. There are also pictures of Adolph Hitler streaming across the assembly line as well. Every time one passes, Donald is forced to do the Sieg Heil Hitler Salute. Traumatized, Donald tries to esc ape but is met by a psychedelic array of warheads with snake heads. After what seems like a total nervous breakdown, Donald wakes up to find himself in the United States. He hugs a minature Statue of Liberty. Thankful to be an American citizen, Donald finds a picture of Hitler and throws a fresh tomato at the picture. Makes a very clear attempt to show the potential finality of the situation by plainly displaying THE END.
The Spirit of 43 - (January 7th, 1943) The Spirit of 43 is the direct sequel to The New Spirit. Again, the issue is to show thriftiness by saving to pay taxes. The familiar theme is "save for taxes... to defeat the Axis." The film also reminds the viewer that the taxes are higher in 1943 due to "Hitler and Hirohito." A similiar theme to the Better Donald and Worse Donald is used in this cartoon as well. The twist is that the thrifty better Donald is a kilt weaing older Duck with a Scottish brogue and bad attitude. Yes, this is the first recorded appearance of one Scrooge McDuck. The Worse Duck morphs into a caricature of Hitler. The bar where Donald wants to spend the money is shown to be a Nazi sympathizing establishment complete with Swastikas. The important distinction about taxes is the collection method. Taxes were collected once every three months as opposed to being taken directly out of the check of the worker. The message was that every penny you spent of your taxes was taking away from your valiant troops overseas. Donald does the right thing and sides with Scrooge over the Hitler Duck.
Fall In Fall Out - (April 23rd, 1943) - Donald returns to Army service in Fall In Fall Out. The short concerns the everyday life of the Army. Donald is at first bright eyed as well as enthusiastic about marching in the Army. Every five miles or so, the chore starts to set in and Donald's enthusiasm for marching wanes.. When it is finally time to set up camp, Donald struggles and fights in characteristic fashion with his tent. The tent continually falls apart and Donald cannot seem to get the strings right . After much fighting and consternation (as was always the case with Donald) , he finally gets the tent up for some much needed shut eye. Unfortunately, Donald has spent most of the night building the tent and now has only a few seconds before dawn. Dawn brings with it more marching.
The Old Army Game - (November 5th, 1943) In its own unique way, The Old Army Game can be argued to take on the heady subject of post-traumatic stress disorder. Late at night at camp, Donald goes stir crazy and leaves his bed. Sensing an opening, Sgt Pete takes over Donald's bed until he should return. When Donald does return, Pete and Donald start thier old familiar chase. This includes a 'shell game' of Pete looking in gun shell boxes for Donald. Finally, Pete catches Donald but half of Donald's body has fallen into a hold. Donald believes that his body may have been cut in half. Donald accepts Pete's gun to commit suicide but Pete implores him to do it 'behind the bushes.' As Donald gets ready to crawl behind the bushes, he realizes that he is whole. Pete continues to chase Donald until they see that the national speed limit is 35 and everything slows down. Consider just for a moment that due to a life threaning fatal injury, Pete and Donald both understood that Donald was within his rights to blow his own head off. This is all started by an episode in which Donald is going to go out of his mind if he stays in his barracks. The short is titled The Old Army Game. The short just exists on a lot of levels.
The Three Caballeros - (February 3rd, 1945) The Three Cabelleros was part of a good will exercise Disney was doing for Latin and South America. The Three Caballeros did feature a ground breaking mix of animation along with live action sequences. In the film, Donald is joined by Brazillian parrott Jose Carioca as well as Mexican rooster Panchito Pistoles. Keeping in mind that at the time, these were intended as positive depictions of Latin and South America. The Three Cabelleros focuses around Donald Duck's birthday and gifts he recieves from his Latin friends. This is the first Disney full length animated film to feature Donald Duck.
Old Sequoia - (December 21st, 1945) In an applaudable early nod to environmental awareness, Donald takes on the role of a park ranger tasked with defending a majestic tree from two mischevious beavers. The beavers are not named but bear a striking resemblence in speech as well as mannerism to classic Disney chipmunks Chip and Dale.
Dumb Bell Of The Yukon - (August 30th, 1946) While not particularly controversial when this short was released, Dumb Bell of the Yukon would deal with many subjects which would go on to be controversial. Daisy asks Donald to get her a fur pelt as a gift. Donald agrees and seeks out a bear cub to skin for its pelt. Upon finding the bear cub, Donald attempts to lure the bear cub with honey as well as dressing up as a bear cub to lure away and trick the bear's mother. In addition to the subjects of fur wearing and hunting, there is a scene in which Donald actually hangs the bear cub in an attempt to kill him. Donald ends up in the noose himself as well. This scene was later removed when the short was shown on Toon Disney decades later as a violent and graphic theme. The actual cartoon ends with Donald slathered in honey being licked by both cub and mother. The overtones would probably ensure that Dumb Bell of the Yukon would not get made or re-made today.
Donald's Dilemma - (July 11th, 1947) Donald's Dilemma again veers into some wonderful territory not often reserved for a Disney cartoon. As such, Donald's Dilemma is one of the truly memorable classics in the Donald Duck canon. How many horror movies or Twilight Zone episodes start out with a trip to a psychologists office muck less a friggin Donald Duck cartoon? Daisy starts off the episode in just such a situation. Daisy recounts a story in which she was out on a date with Donald. A flower pot falls on Donald's head which causes two reactions. First, he remembers nothing of Daisy. Second, he has a beautiful singing voice. Donald has finally overcome whatever speech impediments he may have had. Donald becomes a world wide sensation singing such songs as Pinocchio's When You Wish Upon A Star. Daisy falls into a depression not knowing whether she wants Donald back or let the world keep his new found voice. An often deleted scene brings up the suicidal thoughts of the Duck yet again as Daisy points a gun to her own head. Do you realize just how many times guns were pointed at these ducks heads (often by themselves!!!!) in these early shorts? It is also hinted that seperation from Donald has given Daisy an eating disorder which is possibly anorexia. The psychiatrist tells Daisy she must choose between her selfishly having Donald and the world having him. Daisy chooses her self and drops another flower pot on Donald's head ... in the middle of a song. Daisy gets Donald back and we all get to deal with the ramifications of her teary decision.
Fun And Fancy Free - (September 27th, 1947) Donald is featured in the segment Mickey and The Beanstalk.This segment also introduces the lovably dimwitted Willie The Giant. Donald, Goofy, and Mickey discover Willie's castle in the sky as well as the Goose that lays Golden Eggs and the Singing Harp. When confronted by Willie, they learn that Willie can change himself into anything. Willie wants to change himself into a pink bunny. The beg him to turn into a fly. Willie agrees but changes himself into a pink bunny anyway. Willie then traps the heroes who escape. Mickey eventually cuts down the beanstalk presumably killing Willie (or you know until he was needed again.) At any rate, Mickey And The Beanstalk (as has been pointed out on this site previously) features the GREATEST EFFIN' MELTDOWN ever put on film ... by none other than Donald Duck. The Duckman gets tired of eating a solitary bean and craves real food. Or barring that, he just wants to eat. First, Donald goes off on the narrator before EATING the plate and silverware in defiance. Donald then grabs an ax and takes off after the cow. The cow scampers up a tree to avoid the AX WIELDING DUCK. The whole sequence is just both awesome and beautiful. Not a complete surprise to veteran Ducjk watcbers though.
Chip an Dale - (November 28th 1947) Even though this is technically the third appearance of the future Rescue Rangers, this is the first time that Chip and Dale are name. This is also the first time that Chip and Dale possess noticeably different personalities as well as differences in the way they are drawn. They also display different personalities for the first real time. The plot involves Donald staying in a log cabin. Donald is cold and has run out of firewood. Donald chops off part of an already downed tree. Donald does not realize that the tree was the storgae chamber for nuts of the two chipmunks. Donald later decides that he does not care. A war ensures over the tree between the chipmunks and Donald. Finally, the chipmunks takes back the tree. Donald goes after them but winds up losing the tree as well as a snowfight.
Make no mistake on this point - Without the genius, love and care of Carl Barks, much of what you love and know about Donald Duck and the Duck family would not exist. Ducktales? Think about this. Carl Barks invented Duckburg, Scrooge McDuck, The Junior Woodchucks, Gladstone Gander, Gyro Gearloose, and The Beagle Boys. Try watching your Ducktales re-runs without the magic of Carl Barks. Barks landmark work not only earned him one of the three initial invites in the Will Eisner Hall of Fame but you may well not have Raiders of the Lost Ark without Carl Barks either. Barks was earlier mentioned as a pacifist as well as the writer of Donald getting drafted as well as many other cartoons and shorts. However, it is in comics stories that Barks made his lasting impact.
Memorable issues included .....
Donald Duck Finds Pirate's Gold - Four Color Number 9 0 October 1942 - Donald encounters a bird called Yellow Beak who leads Donald on adventure for sunken treasure. The story was originally conceived for a Mickey Mouse cartoon but was allowed for transference to the comic book medium by Barks. Early on, everything was attributed to "Walt Disney" but fans started to point out Barks style leading him to be known as 'the good duck artist.' Pirate's Gold opened the door for other un-animated Disney stories to be used as comic books.
The Seven Cities of Cibola - Both George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg have aknowledged the influenced of Scrooge McDuck #7 on Raiders of the Lost Ark. The opening sequence of finding the mystical item as well as the boulder chasing were directly inspired by Bark's work.
The Fabulous Philsopher's Stone - The search for a Philosopher's stone by three eager young students under the watchful eye of an old wizened individual may sound really familiar today. That is probably because Barks first wrote about such an adventure as part of a Scrooge McDuck story in 1954. Then again, someone could have added a Wizard's school to the tale later.
A Carl Barks comic also described a ship being lifted by ping pong balls. There was also a reference to 'speckled nitrogen.' Both of these events later, in essence, were actually proven to be true and covered else where on the site.
Island In The Sky - Uncle Scrooge #29 March 1960. This is an important story for the legacy island In the Sky would go on to give Barks himself. The story concerns Scrooge, Donald, and the nephews landing on a faraway asteroid. The asteroid contains alien life forms and normal birds. Scrooge's starship scares away the birds to a nearby planet. The birds were actually the aliens only source of food. In a rare change of heart, Scrooge flies the aliens to the nearby planet. Scrooge then has to pay a high bill for all new fuel to get home, but the aliens will live. Inspired by the story a Cornell professor named an asteroid that he discovered 2730 Barks.
In 1984, Donald Duck celebrated his fiftieth anniversary to much fanfare at Disney World. The anniversary was accompanied by a renewed interest in Duck lore. Fortunately, long time voice Clarence Nash was still alive to see the anniversary as well as provide his voice for the pormotional materials. Nash's last official credit as Donald would come in Mickey's Christmas Carol the year prior. Nash would Donald playing Fred, Scrooge's nephew. Ducktales would go on to be a huge hit in the 1980s and would enjoy a revival via DVD decades later. Donald's last film appearance to date would be as Noah in Noah's Ark segment in Fantasia 2000 which was released in IMAX theaters on the first day of the new millenium. Donald Duck is currently a re-occuring character in the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. The debate between Donald and Mickey goes back nearly as old as Disney itself. Even in the Mickey Mouse Club when Donald had to scream "DONALD DUCK" during the song devoted to Mickey Mouse, Donald has had to strive for respect in a kind of Mickey driven world. Hopefully, this article will not only go to show that the Duck not only achieved but in many ways surpassed his.... well... billing.