Arguably one of the finest things Disney has done in recent years, the "Walt Disney Treasures" line has allowed consumers to be able to purchase rare archive live-action and animated material from the early days of the studio, most of which has been restored to very pleasing condition. The series has offered everything from classic Mickey and Donald cartoons to the Davy Crockett TV series.
Here we have the fourth and final volume of rare animated shorts staring everyone's favorite cartoon waterfowl, Donald Duck. These shorts were produced between 1951 and 1961 and include “Rugged Bear” and “No Hunting” that were nominated for Academy Awards. Some other highlights in this wonderful collection include “Test Pilot” that features the ever-curious and always entertaining Chip and Dale who watch as Donald test fly a miniature airplane, only to take it over and begin flying it themselves. There are several other shorts that feature the fun duo interacting with Donald, including “Corn Chips”, “Dragon Around” and “Up a Tree” that are especially cute and fun.
“Lucky Number” and “The New Neighbor” see Donald at some of his finest heights of aggravation. Huey, Dewy and Louie make several appearances as well and provide additional laughs and fun for everyone, well, maybe not Donald. “Grand Canyonscope” is also one of the more entertaining and visual shorts, as it follows Donald Duck as he goes to the Grand Canyon where he falls into some trouble. “Grand Canyonscope” is presented in widescreen and the only cinemascope to ever feature a classic Disney character in that format.
But what stands out amongst the rest is “Working for Peanuts”. “Working for Peanuts” was made in 3D during a time when studios in the 50’s were anxious to try 3D and other processes to get people back to the movie theaters. While the 3D version can’t be shown here, it’s shown in 2D and you can tell where 3D moments were set up to occur.
The Disney Treasures sets are offered in a limited run of 39,500 each - a numbered certificate of authenticity is included inside the set itself. As with the other sets, these make terrific Christmas gifts and are certainly something the whole family can enjoy.
The Shorts (Part 1)
“Test Pilot Donald”
“Out of Scale”
“Bee On Guard”
“Let’s Stick Together”
“Trick or Treat”
“Don’s Fountain of Youth”
“The New Neighbor”
“Working for Peanuts”
“Canvas Back Duck”
The Shorts (Part 2)
“Grin and Bear it”
“The Flying Squirrel”
“Up a Tree”
“How to Have an Accident in the Home”
“Donald in Mathmagic Land”
“Donald and the Wheel”
From The Vault
“Uncle Donald’s Ants”
“Spare the Rod”
“How to Have an Accident at Work”
This final volume in the series is once again introduced by Leonard Maltin.
Leonard Maltin introduces the “From the Vault” section on disc one by saying there may be things that make you uncomfortable, but to remember it’s a different time and to discuss the differences of past and present with your kids.
VIDEO: These Donald adventures are presented in their original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio (with some exceptions that are presented in their original widescreen aspect ratio) by Disney. Picture quality is first-rate, as the animation appeared crisp and well-defined throughout most of the proceedings, with only a few minor patches of softness and graininess. No edge enhancement, pixelation or shimmering was spotted, but some minor print flaws (a few specks, marks, slight dirt and inconsistent grain) were spotted. Colors remained, for the most part, more lively and bright than expected, given the age of the shorts.
SOUND: The mono soundtracks sound perfectly fine, considering the age of the shorts. Some slight background hiss is present, but dialogue, music and sound effects are easily understood.
EXTRAS: Disc One
“Donald Goes to Press”
Following the beginning of Disney comic strips that appeared in 1930, including Disney’s “Silly Symphony” that highlighted current Disney characters, this feature focuses on 1934 when Donald Duck first appeared in the strip. Because they wanted Donald to be a solo star, Donald Duck became the regular in “Silly Symphony” and eventually got his own comic book. This is a great feature for fans that follows Donald Duck from his first print appearance, including other favorites from the Donald Duck series including Donald’s nephews and Uncle Scrooge McDuck focusing on their first appearance.
“The Unseen Donald Duck: Trouble Shooters”
Leonard Maltin talks with Eric Goldberg (cartoon director, animator) about storyboards from the past. They look at a storyboard from 1946 that was shelved and go over the layout and the way storyboards were used to pitch ideas. This is a fun look at how a storyboard is pitched, down to noises and voices. Goldberg does a fantastic job pitching the 1946 Donald Duck storyboard, it’s fun to watch and certainly worth a look.
“Working for Peanuts” Audio commentary with Leonard Maltin and Jerry Beck A informative commentary about Disney’s second 3D cartoon, “Working for Peanuts”. They point out where 3D would appear, but also discuss how the story doesn’t seem designed for 3D initially since it lacks several gags where 3D items would come at the screen. The discussion never slows and is informative and worth a listen.
“Disney’s Mickey Mouseworks Cartoons”
Five cartoon shorts that have Donald Duck in situations where his temper is quickly tested. These are light and funny and are filled with sound effects and gags. The shorts include:
“Bird Brained Donald”
“Donald and the Big Nut”
“Donald’s Charmed Date”
“Donald’s Dinner Date”
“Donald’s Failed Fourth”
“Grand Canyonscope” commentary with Leonard Maltin and Jerry Beck. They discuss the backgrounds of this short and how impressive they are since the cartoon is set in widescreen. An informative commentary about the sound and scope of the picture and offer some interesting bits of information regarding the then new techniques.
Final Thoughts: Those looking for family-friendly gift for the holidays should absolutely consider the latest round of Disney Treasures sets, which offer classic material from the studio's vaults and are packaged in attractive tins. Highly recommended.