1 The Mickey Mindset: Top Ten Donald Duck Shorts

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Top Ten Donald Duck Shorts

Today's article is written by our good friend and frequent contributer Michael Wermuth. Be sure to also check out Michael's article on The Top Ten Mickey Mouse Shorts.

Michael Wermuth- Donald Duck is one of everybody’s favorite Disney characters. While Mickey Mouse is the face of The Walt Disney Company, Donald is allowed to have more personality, making him a stronger character. He’s starred in many movies and TV shows, and now, here is a list of my top ten favorite Donald Duck cartoons.

10. The Dognapper

One of the few black and white cartoons featuring Donald, this short finds Donald and Mickey as police officers after Peg-Leg Pete, who has stolen Minnie’s dog, Fifi. There’s a lot of funny visual gags, including the saw mill.

9. The New Spirit

In this cartoon, Donald listens to a news report on what he can do to support America in World War II. He’s all enthusiastic over what the radio says he can do, even though he won’t get a medal for it, but initially gets disappointed to learn that this important thing is paying his income tax on time, but perks up when he learns that although it doesn’t seem important, it still is important, and paying taxes on time allows for the army to spend the money on material to defeat the enemies, “taxes to defeat the axis!” This is a good cartoon to promote patriotism. In fact, I’ve read that this short caused more people to pay their taxes on time.

8. The Wise Little Hen

This was the first Donald Duck cartoon, and probably his only appearance in a Silly Symphony. In this one, Donald Duck and Peter Pig both get out of helping a hen with making muffins, claiming to have bellyaches as their excuse. And when it’s time to eat, they both expect a good treat, but instead get a good, funny payoff. It’s a shame that Peter Pig didn’t return, he seemed like a great character, with his grunting when he talks (much like Donald’s quacking when he talks).

7. Working for Peanuts

This is one of only two classic Disney animated shorts that were made in 3D, though that’s not why this is on the list. This short finds Donald as a zoo keeper who, with the help of Deloris the Elephant, keeps Chip and Dale away from Delore’s peanuts. But eventually, Chip and Dale paint themselves white and trick Donald into thinking they are albino chipmunks. And when Dale gets halfway into a pool, washing off half the paint, he comes up with a funny way to convince Donald that it’s not what it seems (leading to a funnier punchline at the end).

6. Sleepytime Donald

In this short, Donald Duck sleepwalks (a plotline previously used with Popeye and Olive Oyl in “A Dream Walking”, and later used by Tom and Jerry in “Jerry, Jerry, Quite Contrary” and by Daffy Duck and Speedy Gonzales in “Skyscraper Caper”), with Daisy making sure he doesn’t get in trouble while sleepwalking. Spoiler: He does get into trouble.

5. The Spirit of ‘43

A follow-up to “The New Spirit”, this short finds Donald battling over how to use his money on payday – put it towards his taxes and help the army, or spend it on entertainment? Donald has a good and bad conscience, though not in the forms of an angel and devil – instead, the good conscience is a thrifty Scottish duck (with some resemblance to Scrooge McDuck, though I don’t think Scrooge had been around at that point), and the bad a frivolous-spending duck.

4. Derr Fuhers Face

The one Donald Duck cartoon that won an Oscar, and deservedly so. This short finds Donald in the army as a Nazi officer, eating very small amounts of food, having to salute every PICTURE of Adolf Hitler, and having to make bullet shells of different sizes. Thankfully for Donald, it all ends up being a dream.
To avoid any controversy over the short's propagandist nature of the film, not to mention the depiction of Donald Duck as a Nazi officer, and the Nazi symbol scattered throughout the short, Disney kept it out of circulation until 2004 where it was released on the Walt Disney Treasures set.

3. Duck Pimples

This is perhaps one of the weirdest Disney shorts. Donald reads a scary story, and various people from the book come out of the book, including a cop who accuses Donald of a crime, an attractive dame, a gorilla, and even the author of the book. And this is one of the few Donald cartoons to feature human characters, making it stand out more (of course, Quack Pack was also full of human characters).

2. Donald’s Happy Birthday

In this short, Huey, Dewy, and Louie want to buy Donald a box of cigars for his birthday, but after making enough money, Donald makes them save the money, not allowing them to spend it. So it’s a struggle to get the money away from Donald, and after they do, Donald catches them buying cigars (without knowing why) and decides to punish them by making them smoke all the cigars. The ending is a very funny ending, one that likely wouldn’t be in a Disney cartoon today (I’m surprised I even saw it on The Disney Channel in 1998, though it was a late-night Vault Disney showing), and I guess this also shows that society has changed, since the nephews, who are obviously children, were actually able to go into a store to buy the cigars. Just try to send a young child into a store today to buy you cigars, with no I.D., and be believed by a shopkeeper that the cigars are not for the child.

1.   Donald’s Dilemma

Most of my favorite Disney shorts are ones that are somehow historically important or well-known successes. This is among the few “average” Disney shorts that I really like. It finds Daisy telling a psychologist about Donald getting hit on the head, giving him a golden singing voice (singing the classic “When You Wish Upon a Star”) but also getting amnesia, forgetting about and having no interest in Daisy. There’s some great scenes with Daisy going somewhat crazy (as she says, “I didn’t want to eat. I didn’t want to sleep. I didn’t want to live”), and when she learns of a cure for Donald, it’s funny to see how she reacts when realizing she has to choose between what she wants or the world getting to appreciate Donald’s singing voice.

The Mickey Mindset: mickeymindset@gmail.com

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