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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 4 DVD Review

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Disc 1: 15 Donald Duck Shorts (Click title to view that portion of the review)
1951: Dude Duck, Corn Chips, Test Pilot Donald, Lucky Number, Out of Scale, Bee on Guard;
1952: Donald Applecore, Let's Stick Together, Trick or Treat;
1953: Don's Fountain of Youth, The New Neighbor, Working for Peanuts, Canvas Back Duck;
From the Vault: Uncle Donald's Ants (1952), Rugged Bear (1953)

Disc 2: 16 Donald Duck Shorts (Click title to view that portion of the review)
1954: Donald's Diary, Dragon Around, Grin and Bear It, The Flying Squirrel, Grand Canyonscope;
1955: Bearly Asleep, Beezy Bear, Up a Tree;
1956: Chips Ahoy, How to Have an Accident in the Home;
1959: Donald in Mathmagic Land;
1961: Donald and the Wheel, The Litterbug;
From the Vault: Spare the Rod (1954), No Hunting (1955), How to Have an Accident at Work (1959)

Video and Audio
Bonus Material: "Donald Goes to Press", "The Unseen Donald Duck: Trouble Shooters", Audio Commentaries, "Mickey Mouse Works" Cartoons
Closing Thoughts

Running Time: 344 Minutes (5 hours, 44 minutes) / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Aspect Ratio) / Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Originally Released between 1951 and 1961
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned / DVD Release Date: November 11, 2008
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9); Suggested Retail Price: $32.99

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Leonard Maltin kicks off this disc too (again following the general Disney promo). His short introduction (3:12) covers Donald's evolution over the years and Maltin's own childhood personal appreciation for the character. As with Disc One, the shorts here are available in alphabetical or chronological order in the same basic menu design. A "Play All" option is also available. Maltin's Disc Two intro can be viewed again from the main menu.

Donald has a vision of married life in "Donald's Diary." In "Dragon Around", Donald operates a jaws-equipped bulldozer in an attempt to make Chip 'n Dale think a dragon is chomping away on their land. Ranger Woodlore (voiced by Bill Thompson, better known as Peter Pan's Mr. Smee) makes his first of several appearances with Donald in this Treasures set.


Donald's Diary (1954) (7:24)
Donald has cold feet
about proposing to Daisy when a nightmare alerts him to the trials of married life.

Dragon Around (1954) (7:08)
When Chip and Dale's home is in his path, Donald makes his plow into a pseudo dragon in order to scare the dauntless rodents.

Grin and Bear It (1954) (7:10)
Ranger Woodlore introduces Donald to Humphrey the Bear but it isn't Donald that Humphrey is interested in -- it's his picnic food.

The Flying Squirrel (1954) (6:45)
Donald enters into an agreement with a squirrel. The bargain: the squirrel will help Donald put up a sign and Donald will provide the squirrel with one of his peanuts in return. The breach: Donald's peanut is no good. The battle: it's on!

"Bearly Asleep" has Donald playing Goldilocks in reverse. Humphrey pipes Donald's honey away in "Beezy Bear."

Grand Canyonscope (1954) (6:54)
Donald takes Ranger Woodlore's tour of the Grand Canyon and quickly brings unnatural disaster to this natural wonder. Released four years before Disney's real-nature, Oscar-winning Grand Canyon two-reel, this cartoon also shows off CinemaScope.

Bearly Asleep (1955) (7:08)
Humphrey snores too loudly, so he has to look for new hibernation dwellings -- and he finds them in Donald's cabin.

Beezy Bear (1955) (7:20)
Donald is a beekeeper who has to ward off honey-hungry Humphrey.

Donald is "Up a Tree" when he tries to take down Chip and Dale's home yet again. Donald demonstrates "How to Have an Accident in the Home." Donald takes a magical safari into the memorable world of "Mathmagic Land" (which bears a striking resemblance to Alice's Wonderland).

Up A Tree (1955) (6:40)
Donald takes a saw to Chip and Dale's house, but they don't go down without a fight.

Chips Ahoy (1956) (6:42)
Chip and Dale take to the sea... in Donald's toy boat. As one might expect, Donald did not consent.

How to Have an Accident in the Home (1956) (6:46)
This very humorous short shows Donald making a number of very unfortunate mistakes that lead to injurious accidents inside his house.

Donald in Mathmagic Land (1959) (27:42)
Arguably Donald's most famous appearance, this entertaining defense of the study of mathematics seemingly cast a spell on older generations that has not relented since. Donald wanders into the mysterious Mathmagic Land, where a series of mathematical adventures await him. In one especially neat portion of this lengthy production, Donald even becomes Alice (of Wonderland fame).

Donald revels in pollution in "The Litterbug." "Spare the Rod" opens with an example of the Native American stereotyping that Leonard Maltin shows up to contextualize. Donald is dazed and confused on his way into work thanks to a lack of sleep. Who can't relate to that?

Donald and the Wheel (1961) (17:59)
Similar to Mathmagic Land but shorter,
this fanciful short finds Donald learning all about the wheel and its impact on civilization.

The Litterbug (1961) (7:44)
This eco-friendly short warns against the evil of littering while humorously depicting Donald and his nephews doing just that.


This section opens with the same non-skippable Maltin video (0:26) that was found on the first disc, urging parents to talk with their kids about what they see rather than judging the content by today's standards.

Spare the Rod (1954) (7:01)
Huey, Dewey, and Louie are causing mischief again, but this time Donald yields to modern thinking and opts for a psychological -- rather than physical -- response.

No Hunting (1955) (6:14)
Donald goes hunting and finds himself in the most unnecessary expedition ever, a veritable battleground.

How to Have an Accident at Work (1959) (7:00)
Taking its cue from How to Have an Accident in the Home, this short finds Donald in one work-related calamity after another, all due to his clumsiness.


The Walt Disney Treasures line has been very good about offering even controversial cartoons in their original, uncut form. The Chronological Donald Volume Four contains a notable but befuddling exception to that rule. Bee on Guard, a 1951 short located on Disc One, ends abruptly and chops off five seconds from the original cut. The truncation is likely a mistake rather than an intentional edit; the five missing seconds contain nothing that could be considered offensive or legally troubling. The omitted animation merely zooms in on the bee's face as he winks. The edit will understandably frustrate many collectors but ultimately isn't of much consequence.

Bambi makes a cameo in "No Hunting" and even gets a speaking part in one of the set's six CinemaScope shorts. Donald shovels up a pair of chipmunks along with the snow in "Corn Chips."


The shorts are presented in their original aspect ratios, which, for most of them, is 1.33:1 ("fullscreen"). A few of these were Cinemascope productions, however, and are appropriately presented in anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen. These are: Grand Canyonscope, Bearly Asleep, Beezy Bear, Chips Ahoy, How to Have an Accident in the Home, and No Hunting.

All of the shorts have been remastered and mostly boast the excellent, nigh pristine picture quality that the Walt Disney Treasures line is known for. Colors are bold and almost never show any sign of bleeding. There is very little sign of edge enhancement.
There's usually some mildly detectable grain and even a few more visual artifacts in some of these shorts than I would like to see. Still, I can't say that they are distracting. The restorations haven't given the cartoons an undue polish, so the original appearance of these decades-old films has not been betrayed. Overall, the picture quality is quite pleasing.

There are a few caveats. The live-action bits that are worked into shorts like The Litterbug are very grainy and with many unwanted artifacts, clearly not having received the same attention as the animation. In fact, The Litterbug in general exhibits a little more grain than the others. There's also a heightened level of grain and artifacts in Donald in Mathmagic Land and Donald and the Wheel.

There's less to say about the audio, which comes by way of a Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track. The sound is clear and without any noticeable problems. The track for each cartoon certainly gets the job done.

"Donald Goes to Press" has the cool idea of labeling its speakers with comic word bubbles. Here, Archival Editor David Gerstein speaks about Donald's leap from films to comic strips. The legendary Eric Goldberg acts out some Donald Duck storyboards for us in "The Unseen Donald Duck: Trouble Shooters." The "Mickey Mouse Works" segments focus primarily on Donald's relationship with Daisy Duck.


Disc One begins with "Donald Goes to Press" (12:48). This very interesting featurette covers Donald Duck's transition from screen to comic strips, where he enjoyed a popular career. In particular, this mini-doc is interested in contrasting Donald's personality in the cartoons from the one he displays in the comics.

"The Unseen Donald Duck: Trouble Shooters" (10:13) is a look at Donald Duck storyboards, hosted by Maltin and animator/director Eric Goldberg.
We even get to see Goldberg reenact storyboards, complete with very good voices and sound effects.

There's also an audio commentary on Working for Peanuts by Maltin and Jerry Beck. The conversation is interesting (aided by the fact that it's short) and focuses on the short's original three-dimensional presentation.

Disc Two offers something unexpected: ten Donald Duck segments from the late 1990s/early 2000s TV series "Mickey Mouse Works" (1:01:54). This represents about one quarter of the Donald Duck-designated segments from that series, apparently picked by Leonard Maltin. Visually, the shorts are immediately distinct from the other cartoons in this set, both because of their obviously lowered production budget/value and their distinctly late-'90s sensibilities. These cartoons tend to focus on Donald's relationship with Daisy and they're nearly as entertaining as the theatrical short subjects. I imagine that many will still want a complete collection of "Mouse Works", "House of Mouse", and the like... but until that happens (if it ever does), it's nice to have a little taste here. The ten Donald segments included are: "Bird Brained Donald", "Donald and the Big Nut", "Donald's Charmed Date", "Donald's Dinner Date", "Donald's Failed Fourth", "Donald's Rocket Ruckus", "Donald's Shell Shots", "Donald's Valentine Doll", "Music Store Donald", and "Survival of the Woodchucks". A "Play All" option is included, as is a credits reel.

Finally, there's an excellent audio commentary by Martin and Beck on Grand Canyonscope. The remarkably screen-specific discussion focuses on the marvel that a Cinemascope Donald Duck short represented in 1954. The discussion meanders through interesting observations without getting too technical, and all in just a few minutes' time!

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"Who gets stuck with all the bad luck? No one but Donald Duck!" A scam backfiring -- that's Donald in a nutshell!


With Volume Four of the Chronological Donald, Mr. Duck's entire theatrical filmography is now available on DVD. Available, that is, with two exceptions -- 1965's Steel and America and Donald's Fire Survival Plan. Those two are commercial/educational shorts that could arguably be left out of the proper canon but their absence here is still confusing. Perhaps they'll show up on a future miscellaneous-themed set.

For now, though, this is probably the last we'll see of Donald in bulk for some time to come. This also makes the last major release of
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bankable animated content (typically relied upon to support less popular installments) in the Walt Disney Treasures line. Just what that means for the future of the series remains to be seen.

You needn't worry about that just yet, though. For now, just enjoy this solid set of entertaining Donald Duck cartoons. Even though his later appearances aren't his best, given the heavy role played by supporting characters like Humphrey the Bear, they still exhibit the high-quality animation and spirited sense of humor that makes Disney shorts stand out from all the rest. The format lends itself to a lot of visual gags, so sitting down and watching these from beginning to end in a day will be taxing on the mind. But the beauty of DVD is that you needn't be in a hurry -- taken in small doses, these are treats to savor.

With a few exceptions, the audio/video quality on these sets is commendable, as are Disney's efforts to include controversial material that could conceivably have been left out. Five missing seconds from one cartoon will bother some but a couple hours' worth of excellent supplementary material is worth more discussion. Recommending The Chronological Donald, Volume Four is a no-brainer.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
The Chronological Donald: Volume 1 • The Chronological Donald, Volume 2 • The Chronological Donald, Volume 3
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DuckTales: Volume 1 • DuckTales: Volume 2 • DuckTales: Volume 3 • Quack Pack: Volume 1 • Mickey's House of Villains
Classic Cartoon Favorites: Vol. 8: Holiday Celebration with Mickey & Pals • Vol. 4: Starring Chip 'n Dale • Vol. 10: Best Pals: Donald & Daisy
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Sleeping Beauty (Platinum Edition) • Tinker Bell • Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Academy Awards Animation Collection


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

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Review posted November 17, 2008.