Clarence Nash

Working for Peanuts (1953, Jack Hannah)

As if Donald Duck couldn’t get weirder, he’s apparently got the hots for a female elephant in Working for Peanuts. But it’s not actually a Donald cartoon, it’s a Chip and Dale cartoon. The boys are after the peanuts–a delicacy they’ve just discovered–and the zoo has them.

Donald’s the zookeeper, the elephant’s got the peanuts. Chaos ensues.

Director Hannah and his animators must have either been on a tight deadline or completely disinterested, because Peanuts is terrible work. The animation on Donald and the chipmunks is fine, but on the elephant and the other zoo animals it’s awful. There’s one shot of a group of people standing around with the same face and expression. The zoo itself has no personality (or cages).

As for the gags… they’re tepid. The final one’s kind of funny, but the dumb elephant’s in the scene; she ruins it.

These Peanuts are stale.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Jack Hannah; written by Nick George and Roy Williams; animated by Volus Jones, Bill Justice and George Kreisl; music by Oliver Wallace; produced by Walt Disney; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Dessie Flynn (Dale), James MacDonald (Chip) and Clarence Nash (Donald Duck).


Pluto’s Christmas Tree (1952, Jack Hannah)

Pluto’s Christmas Tree gets off to a somewhat rocky start; it turns out, the animators spend more time on one nut than they do on Mickey Mouse. Besides looking perpetually hung over, Mickey’s also very loosely drawn.

However, Tree soon picks up because Hannah’s direction is inspired and the animators excel on everything (except Mickey). Chip and Dale are hiding in Mickey and Pluto’s Christmas tree, annoying Pluto, but also giving the viewer a look at a Christmas tree from inside out.

Hannah creates, in six minutes or so, a truly lovely little Christmas cartoon. Besides the lovely tree interiors, there are a bunch of great gags for the chipmunks and Pluto.

Even the sappy ending works out well, maybe because Hannah ends Tree with a gag (and starts the sappy ending with one).

I remembered it immediately, once the tree interiors started; the visuals are incredibly striking, incredibly memorable.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Jack Hannah; written by Bill Berg and Milt Schaffer; animated by Volus Jones, Bill Justice, George Kreisl and Fred Moore; music by Joseph Dubin; produced by Walt Disney; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Ruth Clifford (Minnie Mouse), Pinto Colvig (Pluto / Goofy), Dessie Flynn (Dale), James MacDonald (Mickey Mouse / Chip) and Clarence Nash (Donald Duck).


Dragon Around (1954, Jack Hannah)

If someone was unfamiliar with Donald Duck–and missed the opening titles, which imply Dragon Around is a Donald Duck cartoon–he or she might read the ending as Chip and Dale killing Donald Duck.

And Donald Duck definitely deserves it.

Initially, the chipmunks confuse Donald’s power shovel for a dragon, but then the viewer learns Donald is clearing the chipmunks’ dwelling for a freeway. He delights in not just the destruction, but also in causing terror and harm to the chipmunks.

Director Hannah doesn’t even take a moment to make Donald the least bit likable, even as a jerk. Donald’s a very bad guy in Dragon.

Giving the chipmunks such a definite and vicious villain removes any charm from Dragon. It’s a thriller.

The animation’s okay, but indistinct. Similarly, Hannah’s direction is uninspired.

I kept hoping a hunter would come along and shoot Donald, which probably wasn’t Hannah’s intent.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Jack Hannah; written by Nick George and Roy Williams; animated by Volus Jones and Bill Justice; music by Oliver Wallace; produced by Walt Disney; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Dessie Flynn (Dale), James MacDonald (Chip) and Clarence Nash (Donald Duck).


Sea Salts (1949, Jack Hannah)

Sea Salts opens with a framing device, which doesn’t make much sense from a story point of view. Well, wait, maybe the frame is to show the viewer Donald Duck (as a sea captain) is a likable greedy, selfish jerk, not a dangerous one.

The protagonist is actually a beetle, one of Donald’s crew from a ship. The beetle, voiced by a wonderful Dink Trout, tells the story of their association and “friendship.”

While the beetle’s a fine narrator, Sea Salts‘s real star is the animation. Hannah and his animators take the pair through a somewhat predictable shipwreck and stranding narrative but the visuals are so strong (and Trout so affable) Salts is enthralling.

The only time where the approach (the beetle as the protagonist, Donald as the subject) is a problem is at the end… Donald’s ornery captain character never develops.

Still, it’s a lovely, beautifully crafted cartoon.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Jack Hannah; written by Bill Berg and Nick George; animated by Jack Boyd, Bob Carlson, Bill Justice and John Sibley; music by Oliver Wallace; produced by Walt Disney; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Clarence Nash (Donald Duck) and Dink Trout (‘Mac’ Bootle Beetle).


Grand Canyonscope (1954, Charles A. Nichols)

In Grand Canyonscope, Donald Duck is the typical disrespectful, annoying American tourist. What’s funny about the cartoon is how–in 1954–it was one in every bunch of tourists… whereas now it’s the inverse.

The cartoon’s in CinemaScope and director Nichols uses the width to mixed effect. There are some great iconic frames of the Grand Canyon, which eventually gets destroyed, but the action in those frames doesn’t need to be CinemaScope.

After Doanld’s initial acts of casual disrespect, things get much worse. But it’s not Donald’s fault. It’s dimwit Ranger Woodlore, yet Canyonscope blames Donald for all the destruction.

Since Nichols’s CinemaScope direction is so flash in the pan, there’s really nothing to recommend the cartoon. It has no comedic gags, except a great sight gag of small planetoid Woodlore on a mule, just chases through the imagery.

Still, there’s good voice work from Clarence Nash and Bill Thompson.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Charles A. Nichols; written by Milt Schaffer and Nick George; animated by John Sibley and Julius Svendsen; music by Oliver Wallace; produced by Walt Disney; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Clarence Nash (Donald Duck) and Bill Thompson (Ranger J. Audubon Woodlore).


Lonesome Ghosts (1937, Burt Gillett)

The animation in Lonesome Ghosts is so exquisite, it seems impossible the narrative could screw it up. Though, when the cartoon moves into a haunted house from this amazing outdoor scene, I suppose the possibility is there.

The cartoon is Mickey, Donald and Goofy as ghost hunters. They run into trouble with these four ghosts—who are strangely androgynous—and the problems arise from the protagonists getting a fair split of screen time.

Mickey has a fine encounter, but then Donald’s isn’t just short… it’s dumb. The animation is still great—maybe even better in Donald’s section—but the content is so tedious, the cartoon takes a severe quality dip.

But nothing could prepare for the tediousness of the Goofy segment. It’s not just stupid, it’s lazy. Worse, it’s the longest of the three segments.

After Goofy’s done, there’s really no way for Ghosts to recover.

Still, the animation’s glorious….

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Burt Gillett; written by Dick Friel; animated by Art Babbitt, Rex Cox, Clyde Geronimi, Dick Huemer, Milt Kahl, Isadore Klein, Ed Love, Bob Wickersham, Dick Williams, Don Williams and Marvin Woodward; music by Albert Hay Malotte; produced by Walt Disney; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Walt Disney (Mickey Mouse), Clarence Nash (Donald Duck), Billy Bletcher (Short Ghost) and Pinto Colvig (Goofy).


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