Television Reviews

Walt Disney Treasures – The Chronological Donald Volume One 1934-1941

There came a time when Mickey Mouse became extremely popular, especially among the younger set. Just as some things never seem to change, parents began to complain about some of his antics since their children admired the mouse so much. Mickey could no longer get angry and break a window or kick someone without objections being made. Walt Disney created the character of Donald Duck for a dual purpose: to give Mickey Mouse a foil as well as handle any of the lewd or crude content parents were beginning to object to. Donald soon became a scene-stealer in his own right. I have no idea if there were any objections sounded at Donald, but he seemed to deflect them.

In The Chronological Donald, Volume One I watched him evolve from an incidental character in the Silly Symphony The Wise Little Hen to a feature star in his own right. His look also changed as he started out much more dumpy with heavier legs and a longer beak than the Donald I’ve come to know and adore over the years.

Donald has a temper and just about anything and everything seems to set it off. This is one of the things that made him a favorite with audiences over the years. It was fun to watch him reach the boiling point and go over, often with hilarious results. Donald did not seem at all mechanically inclined as the various electrical and motorized devices always seemed to be out to get him. Various secondary characters were introduced for individual short subjects who often turned their battles with Donald into a tug-of-war from which Donald never seemed to be victorious.

This 2-disc Walt Disney Treasures collection also introduces Donald’s girlfriend, Daisy, along with his three mischievous nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie. The print has been restored magnificently. Most of the cartoons had no flaws at all – no speckles of dirt were evident and the print was crisp. The soundtrack was remastered and clear; Donald sounded exactly as he was supposed to sound and not a bit more difficult to understand. There were a few cartoons where the volume was lower than others, but overall I have no complaints. I loved the music sequence in Mr. Duck Steps Out in particular, but overall the whimsical music is a great accompaniment to all of the antics in these cartoons.

My kids really liked watching this with me. Donald’s brand of slapstick humor transcends the generations and is something they found as funny as I did all those years ago. They know Donald but have never seen his short subjects until this collection came into our possession. The limited-edition 2-disc collection comes in a tin with a paper band around it.; A numbered certificate of authenticity is inside, along with a booklet and a reproduction of a publicity poster.

On Disney-related forums I read complaints of Leonard Maltin’s cutting in with his politically-correct introduction any time there was a hint that Donald was doing something objectionable. However, when I used the PLAY ALL feature none of these introductions appeared before any of the cartoons. This is Donald Duck, after all, and I do expect him to “push the envelope” to a certain extent. Only the most humorless of people wouldn’t enjoy Donald’s antics, in my opinion.

Overall, I think this is the collection that had me laughing the most. I think the bonus features, while scarce, were a good addition to the discs and didn’t feel like filler. One of the best pieces is a bit about Clarence Nash, the voice behind Donald for many, many years. I haven’t seen a second volume to this collection yet, but I sure am looking forward to it!

Titles on the discs:

The Wise Little Hen – 1934
Donald and Pluto – 1936
Don Donald – 1937
Modern Inventions – 1937
Donald’s Ostrich – 1937
Self Control – 1938
Donald’s Better Self – 1938
Donald’s Nephews – 1938
Polar Trappers – 1938
Good Scouts – 1938
The Fox Hunt – 1938
Donald’s Golf Game – 1938
Donald’s Lucky Day – 1939
Hockey Champ – 1939
Donald’s Cousin Gus – 1939
Beach Picnic – 1939
Sea Scouts – 1939
Donald’s Penguin – 1939
The Autograph Hound – 1939
Officer Duck – 1939

The Riveter – 1940
Donald’s Dog Laundry – 1940
Billposters – 1940
Mr. Duck Steps Out – 1940
Put-Put Troubles – 1940
Donald’s Vacation – 1940
Window Cleaners – 1940
Fire Chief – 1940
Timber – 1941
Golden Eggs – 1941
A Good Time for a Dime – 1941
Early to Bed – 1941
Truant Officer Donald – 1941
Old MacDonald Duck – 1941
Donald’s Camera – 1941
Chef Donald – 1941

Bonus Materials:

• Introduction by Leonard Maltin
• Publicity and Memorabilia Gallery
• Story and Background Art Gallery
• Three Easter Eggs (by highlighting the picture of Donald in the Bonus Material Menu on the second disc): clip from The Reluctant Dragon of Clarance Nash and Florence Gill recording a duet as Donald Duck and Clara Cluck, another clip from The Reluctant Dragon with Donald Duck showing how a cartoon is made, The Volunteer Worker where Donald Duck encourages people to give to charity.