Judge Franck Tabouring can't stop quacking...
Our reviews of Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald, Volume Three (1947-1950) (published January 2nd, 2008) and Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald, Volume Two (1942-1946) (published February 7th, 2006) are also available.
Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack!
"To meet him is to love him…to work with him is a rare, unforgettable experience. Yes—Donald is a duck of distinction"—Walt Disney
Facts of the Case
Walt Disney Treasures presents The Chronological Donald, Volume Four, an interesting collection of Donald Duck shorts ranging from 1951 to 1961. This DVD set contains 31 classic tales spread across two discs:
Watching all these classic Donald Duck adventures really brought up some warm memories from my childhood. I clearly remember watching some of these shorts over and over again on my beloved Donald Duck VHS tape, and revisiting them now easily helps me appreciate these great cartoons even more. Honestly, who wouldn't applaud the great efforts Walt Disney and his team put into making these classic tales? Valuable treasures should be protected, and this fourth collection is a wonderful addition to the Chronological Donald series.
Let's take a closer look at what this exciting two-disc set has to offer. Most of these Disney cartoons often have a certain theme to it, and this time around, we see Donald engaging in several activities. While some of these shorts portray Donald as a proud homeowner who at least tries to enjoy the suburban lifestyle, others follow his adventures as an ambitious business operator. Moreover, Donald also connects with nature every now and then, paying a visit to the Grand Canyon or embarking on several hunting trips. Whatever Donald spends his time with, the settings and locations are quite vast in this collection.
Most of us love Donald Duck because he so easily loses his temper over pretty much anything that bothers him or disrupts his peace, and although his wild outbursts in anger always make matters worse, they're actually quite funny to observe. Many of the cartoons on these two DVDs focus on battles between Donald and Chip 'n' Dale, who certainly aren't among those facilitating his life. Some great shorts involving the two chipmunks are "Corn Chips," in which Chip 'n' Dale head out to steal Donald's tasty popcorn; "Up a Tree," in which Donald tries to trim a tree and the two little fellows try to stop him; and "Out of Scale," in which Chip 'n' Dale shake things up on Donald's toy train set. My personal favorite is "Chips Ahoy," a wonderful episode in which Chip 'n' Dale steal Donald's model boat.
The diversity level in these cartoons is pretty high this time around, and there's just so much to discover in these shorts. Not all of them are totally intriguing or hilarious, of course, but the majority made it easy for me to enjoy this latest volume. One hilarious episode, for instance, is "Lucky Number," in which Huey, Dewey, and Louie try to surprise their uncle with a new car he won over the radio. Another memorable cartoon is "Donald's Diary," in which the duck thinks he's met his dream girl but quickly realizes she may not be that charming after all. In the thoroughly entertaining "Grin and Bear It," Donald struggles to get rid of a bear that desperately tries to get him to feed it.
Interesting also are several cartoons that reflect Disney's willingness to experiment with new technologies and find innovative ways to turn some of these classics into educational adventures. As far as the technical aspect goes, Disc Two of this fourth volume includes the famous "Grand Canyonscope," the first Donald Duck cartoon to be presented in CinemaScope. Disc One features "Working for Peanuts," which was originally released in 3D, although it comes in the standard 2D format on this DVD. The most famous educational cartoon is "Donald in Mathmagicland," an engaging and informative 26-minute adventure in which Donald discovers the fascinating world of mathematics. Accessible to youngsters old enough to understand some of these basic math concepts, this wonderful episode accompanies Donald as he learns all about the golden section, the golden triangle, the pentagram and many other mathematical ideas kids will sooner or later encounter in school. Another funny cartoon is "Donald and the Wheel," which runs for 17 minutes and offers viewers a brief history of the invention of the wheel Donald style.
The Chronological Donald, Volume Four also includes two "From the Vault" sections, which feature cartoons with some controversial material viewers today may consider a little offensive. In "Uncle Donald's Ants," Donald launches into a battle with ants trying to invade his home. "Rugged Bear" sort of sensationalizes hunting and follows a scared bear who poses as a carpet in order not to get shot. Then there's "Spare the Rod," in which Donald tries to find some ways to manipulate his nephews into doing more work around the house. Also included are "No Hunting" and "How to Have an Accident at Work." While these shorts include some possibly inappropriate material, I'm glad Disney decided to include them in this set after all.
Moving on to the video and audio transfers, I have to say the cartoons both sound and look good. A couple of them look a little grainier than others, but considering they were originally released in the '50s and '60s, Disney's done a pretty good job transferring them to these DVDs.
The special features are interesting enough as well, with film historian and Disney expert Leonard Maltin delivering a couple of brief introductions to the set and select episodes. He also sits in on two informative audio commentaries with film historian Jerry Beck for "Working for Peanuts" and "Grand Canyonscope." The first disc also includes an excellent 12-minute documentary entitled "Donald Goes to Press," during which Archival Editor David Gerstein and others talk about Donald's presence in Disney's comic strips. It's a really intriguing piece if you would like to know more about Donald's career in comic books and the other characters that started appearing in these stories. Besides "The Unseen Donald Duck," in which animator and director Eric Goldberg pitches an entire Donald short to his viewers, the bonus material also includes ten "Mouseworks" cartoons from 1999.
This is a real treasure indeed.
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Scales of Justice
• Introductions by Leonard Maltin
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