Disney is everywhere and has been for the best part of 70 years. With that being, it was inevitable that I grew up enjoying the exploits of Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, etc. But my all time favourite of the classic Disney line up was the sailor suit clad Peking Duck who always got himself into a hilarious predicament.
Unlike Mickey and Goofy, Donald Duck was the funniest and I could relate to him most because of the number of times I ended up embarrassing myself as a child. Donald was that comic foil you needed to feel better after a long day. In fact, I hated Mickey Mouse, his voice was so irritating and you knew he'd win the day in every single episode. Donald on the other hand was the lovable loser whom you wanted to see triumph but it didn't matter if he lost.
And unlike lots of my generation, I did not grow up with the Disney Channel. My house wasn’t fitted with satellite TV until I was much older. But having owned several VHS tapes of the classic short films that made him popular, I’m paying tribute to the heyday of the wisecracking duck.
I’d better add that because of their era, these shorts do contain racist portrayals of other cultures, particularly the Japanese with whom the USA was at war. So just be aware if anything here offends you. So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen and third gender I give you the top 10 classic Donald Duck shorts.
10. Der Fuerhrer’s Face (1943)
As I just mentioned the US was in the midst of World War 2 when most of these shorts were made. So here we have our hero facing the wrath of Nazi Germany in one of Disney’s most shocking propaganda pieces.
9. The Village Smithy (1942)
Donald was the king of slapstick comedy. He also held many different jobs and how he turned each and every one of them into a physical comedy adventure was quite an achievement. Here we see how shoeing a horse can leave a poor duck severely injured.
8. Donald’s Garden (1942)
Mr Duck had his fair share of enemies, but the gluttonous gopher seen here is one of the most memorable. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this influenced the enemy in Bill Murray’s magnum opus: Caddyshack.
7. Donald and Pluto (1936)
6. The Eyes Have It (1945)
And here again we have Pluto giving Donald grief as he tries to master the art of hypnosis.
5. Contrary Condor (1944)
I’ve always loved travelling and seeing the world and have always been fascinated by nature. It looks as though our feathered friend must have influenced that as well by how he travelled far and wide to discover a rare Condor egg with hilarious consequences.
4. Commando Duck (1944)
Like many Americans, Donald did his bit for his country in times of war. As I said at the beginning, plenty of racist portrayals were put into these shorts to make Americans hate total strangers. And it was with his very funny ways that Donald served his country using the most ingenious of methods.
3. The Plastics Inventor (1944)
Creativity and inventing is something on tons of kids’ minds. So is the dream of being a pilot. And how Donald combined the two and made such a side splitting exploit out of it is worth all we can give.
2. Old Sequoia (1945)
Donald Duck’s films always had an interest with nature, and here we see him putting up with the problems thrown at him by mother earth. Plus this is the first appearance of two antagonists who may go on to become the infamous Chip N Dale characters.
And the number one Donald Duck short is:
1. The Clock Watcher (1945)
If you’ve worked in a crap job like I have, you find yourself watching the clock most of the day. Whenever I’ve had a bad day at work I always find myself picturing Donald as he slaves away to make ends meet. And I have on more than one occasion wished I could just take on the evil manager breathing down my neck all day just like our feathered friend. Plus, Disney knew of their shorts reaching adults as well as children as a joke early on in this short will tell you.