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Donald Duck Cartoon Shorts on DVD - The Chronological Donald: Volume One Volume Two Volume Three Volume Four

The Chronological Donald Volume 2 DVD Review

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Disc 1: 15 Donald Duck Shorts: (Click title to view that portion of the review)
1942: Bellboy Donald, The Village Smithy, Donald's Snow Fight, Donald's Garden, Donald's Gold Mine;
1943: Donald's Tire Trouble, Flying Jalopy;
From the Vault
1942: Donald Gets Drafted, The Vanishing Private, Sky Trooper;
1943: Der Fuehrer's Face, Fall Out - Fall In, The Old Army Game, Home Defense;
1944: Commando Duck

Disc 2: 17 Donald Duck Shorts: (Click title to view that portion of the review)
1944: Trombone Trouble, The Plastics Inventor, Donald's Off Day, Donald Duck and the Gorilla, Contrary Condor;
1945: The Eyes Have It, Donald's Crime, Duck Pimples, No Sail, Cured Duck, The Clock Watcher, Old Sequoia;
1946: Donald's Double Trouble, Wet Paint, Dumb Bell of the Yukon, Lighthouse Keeping, Frank Duck Brings 'Em Back Alive

Video and Audio
Bonus Material: "A Day in the Life of Donald Duck", "Drawing and Talking 'Duck' with Tony Anselmo", "The Art and Animation of Carl Barks", "Timeline: The War Years 1941-1945", "The Volunteer Worker", Galleries
Closing Thoughts
Running Time: 230 Minutes (3 hours, 50 minutes) / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Aspect Ratio) / Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Originally Released between 1942 and 1946
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned / DVD Release Date: December 6, 2005
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9); Suggested Retail Price: $32.99

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Page 1: Set Overview and Disc 1 Shorts
Page 2: Disc 2 Shorts, Video & Audio, Bonus Features, and Closing Thoughts

By Aaron Wallace

1942 is most visible as the year of Bambi on Walt Disney's resume, but even as the United States waged World War II, the visionary's studio was enjoying success from less elaborate efforts in its cartoon production field. The popularity of Disney's original personality-turned-icon, Mickey Mouse, had already been eclipsed by the comically irascible Donald Duck, though both these lines and other animated endeavors were embraced by the public.

The war wasn't fought on their homeland, but Americans' spirits still needed lifting during the troubled 1940s and their unity would always welcome encouragement. Disney's animated output was able to strike a chord with audiences, whether the uplifting comedy provided much-needed relief or sent positive messages explicitly related to combat. Donald's unfailing ability to express anger rallied Americans against their enemies in a manner that would never see the light of the mainstream today, regardless of how effective such an establishment of dichotomy may be.

The opening of each Donald short. Donald dons a uniform for the war shorts.

Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald, Volume Two picks up at 1942, where the first volume left off when it was released a year and a half prior. Five years' worth of the Duck's theatrical career are presented on two discs. Of course, the Donald cartoons weren't created with all-at-once viewing in mind, and as a result, something of a formula -- or at the very least, a common list of ingredients -- shows up in most of the shorts. There are essentially two kinds of Donald shorts on this set. The first concerns the pursuit of romance with Daisy Duck by Donald and closely mirrors the Mickey-Minnie relationships of the mice's shorts. The second and more prevalent involves something
or someone provoking Donald, engaging in physical conflict, and ultimately outsmarting him. Each short stands out as entertainment of the highest quality and outstanding works of the animated short subject, a dying breed.

Successive viewing does underscore repetition among the shorts, however, and can lead to a little weariness that prescribes more intermittent viewing patterns. A reliance on plot, physical gags, and a familiarity with Donald's highly identifiable character takes the place of heavy usage of dialogue. That, along with the use of band-performed scores and occasional references to the 1940s set these cartoons apart from today's entertainment. Remarkably, though, entertainment value hasn't suffered from the aging process, as these subjects hold up for modern audiences' tastes, if not their expectations, as today's diluted attention spans will be challenged. The viewer who can stay focused for at least a few minutes at a time will be rewarded, and that should apply as much to children as it does adults. Each cartoon easily entertains and constantly amuses, occasionally even arriving at sheer hilarity.

Donald's antics are both charming and delightful. The same could be said for film critic and historian Leonard Maltin, the man behind the Treasures line, though that's an interpretation more likely to be differed upon from viewer to viewer. Maltin provides a relevant introduction at the beginning of each disc, shedding enlightenment on the historical context that not only assists in understanding the subjects' symptomatic meanings, but also justifies material that is apparently unacceptable by someone at Disney's definition of today's standards. Surprisingly, Maltin doesn't show up attached to any individual short in this go-around. That's partly because the most controversial shorts are relegated to their own section.

Donald tries to cure himself of his anger problem in the cleverly-titled "Cured Duck." Donald parachutes in one of the set's numerous war-themed cartoons.

The U.S. government took over the Disney studios the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed (December 8, 1941) and that's just about the time that the Donald shorts included on this set were going into production. Eight shorts that fall within the temporal parameters of this set were produced for American armed forces and as such were included on a previous Treasures set titled Walt Disney on the Front Lines. Those eight are included in a "From the Vault" section here, which might seem redundant to some collectors but actually make for a more comprehensive chronological collection and will no doubt please Donald's fans. These shorts are easily enjoyed just like any other Donald short but also provide a fascinating glimpse at history that should appeal not only to the avid Disney fan but to anyone familiar with American or global history.


For some, packaging is of greater importance to the Treasures lines than it is to most DVDs, and the measures taken toward each set's collectability in the past are taken here too. The two discs are found inside a double-wide keepcase, though it's now black instead of white or gray as before and the discs now face one another, with the first disc resting in its own flap (a less preferable manner of packaging). The standard certificate of authenticity that numbers each set out of the 125,000 that were printed (signed by Roy Disney and Maltin), a mini-booklet featuring a letter from Leonard Maltin and a content listing, and a reprint of the original poster used to promote "Old Sequoia" are all found inside. To get to any of that, one must first retrieve the keepcase from the collectable metal tin that houses it. Neither the signed blue band or imprinted copy numbers that were found on the exterior of earlier tins have returned here.


Leonard Maltin starts things off by refreshing the memories of viewers who left off at the end of Donald's first volume of Treasures. By the early 1940s, Donald Duck was Walt Disney's star and in many ways he'd be the pop culture face of the second World War. Leonard addresses all that and gives a preview of things to come on the second disc.

Donald struggles to keep his job as a bellhop. Donald battles the wheel. It's Donald versus his nephews as "Jingle Bells" plays in "Donald's Snow Fight."


Bellboy Donald (1942) (7:27)
Donald has trouble walking the line of courtesy in his job as a bellhop at a hotel, and the arrival of Pete and his arrogant son is enough to send Donald over the edge.

The Village Smithy (1942) (7:18)
Donald battles his first inanimate object of the set -- and a donkey as well -- as he tries his hand at blacksmithing and things don't go so well.

Donald's Snow Fight (1942) (7:15)
Donald takes on his nephews in an all-out snow and ice war in this extremely memorable holiday short. Variations on "Jingle Bells" make up the score and it's a must-watch for the Christmas season.

Donald's watermelons are under attack in "Donald's Garden." Donald works the gold mine. The shady plane dealer of "Flying Jalopy."

Donald's Garden (1942) (7:20)
Donald tries to keep his watermelons out of the clutches of a thieving gopher but finds that he may have met his match.

Donald's Gold Mine (1942) (7:15)
Donald tries working the mines
but cramped conditions and stubborn equipment don't make it easy.

Donald's Tire Trouble (1943) (7:32)
One of those self-explanatory shorts... Donald has trouble with a tire and it's plenty funny.

Flying Jalopy (1943) (7:21)
Donald nearly falls prey to an insurance scam from a conniving bird who sells him a plane and then tries to collect insurance on it.


This section is accessible directly from the first disc's main menu and it contains the eight Donald war shorts on this set. Each of these would probably have previously garnered an apologetic introduction by Leonard, but by grouping them all together, the smiley film critic is able to offer only one such message so that viewers, as he puts it, "can't say I didn't warn you." Unfortunately, that message can't be skipped or fast-forwarded through. Once it's complete, the "From the Vault" sub-menu works just like the main menu does.

The 1940s illustrated that Donald had as much chemistry with Pete as Mickey did, if not more. Donald prepares to take a leap in "Sky Trooper." The comical Naziland in "Der Fuehrer's Face"

Donald Gets Drafted (1942) (8:54)
The draft doesn't seem as scary when Donald Duck accepts his duty with pleasure, or at least that seems to be the idea behind this enjoyable short, though things aren't as rosy in the army as Donald may have hoped.

The Vanishing Private (1942) (7:27)
Perhaps the funniest cartoon in the whole set, this one deals with Donald trying to follow orders but of course going awry when he doesn't understand the concept of camouflage and goes from loud, flashy colors to invisible paint. The chemistry between Donald and Pete is more evident here than ever.

Sky Trooper (1942) (7:13)
Donald thinks he wants to parachute with the rest of the guys but loses his nerve when the time comes, much to the chagrin of Pete.

Der Fuehrer's Face (1943) (7:52)
It is today considered to be perhaps the most explicit propaganda short from Disney during the second World War and for good reason, as the Axis powers are ridiculed (most especially Hitler's Nazis) in a dream from Donald in which he himself is a Nazi soldier.

Donald falls in and out of line. Donald and his nephews play in "The Old Army Game." In one of the set's most surprising moments, Donald makes a suicide attempt with a gun in "Home Defense."

Fall Out - Fall In (1943) (7:22)
Army life isn't treating Donald very well as he trudges through inordinately lengthy marches and tent-pitching woes.

The Old Army Game (1943) (6:58)
Donald sneaks out at night and thinks he's made a safe and secret return to his bed but Pete, his commanding officer, is on to him.

Home Defense (1943) (7:45)
Donald and his nephews think they're under attack and so man their stations with much trepidation, though it's actually a bumble bee causing all the commotion.

Commando Duck (1944) (6:54)
This short has more potential to offend than any other here, but is still fascinating. Donald is charged with wiping out a Japanese base, where stereotypes intentionally abound, though he's alone in his mission and it doesn't go so well for him.


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Donald Duck Cartoon Shorts on DVD - The Chronological Donald: Volume One Volume Two Volume Three Volume Four


Page 1: Set Overview and Disc 1 Shorts
Page 2: Disc 2 Shorts, Video & Audio, Bonus Features, and Closing Thoughts

Other Walt Disney Treasures and Cartoon Compilations Reviewed
The Chronological Donald: Volume 1 The Chronological Donald: Volume 3 Disney Rarities: Celebrated Shorts, 1920s-1960s
Mickey Mouse in Living Color: Volume 2 Mickey Mouse in Black & White: Volume 2
Walt Disney on the Front Lines The Complete Pluto: Volume 1
Timeless Tales: Volume Two Timeless Tales: Volume One Funny Factory with Donald
Classic Cartoon Favorites:
Volume 2 - Starring Donald Volume 4 - Starring Chip 'n Dale
Volume 8 - Holiday Celebration with Mickey & Pals Volume 11 - Best Pals: Donald & Daisy

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Review posted December 12, 2005.