So I decided that while watching Disney movies is great, to truly get a sense of all things Disney, I need to look at some of their short films too.
As I talked about in my look at Disney eras, the mid 1940s to late 1950s were marked by many short films, due in part to many animators fighting overseas in World War II and part to financial troubles of the company. As we looked at in class, many of the short films in the early 1940s were war propaganda films.
Donald’s Crime was made in 1945 and is a parody on film noir, which was starting to gain popularity at the time after films such as The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Double Indemnity (1944).
The short follows Donald Duck who is preparing for his big date with Daisy, but realizes that he doesn’t have any money. This causes him to steal $1.25 from his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, but afterwards he feels terrible about it, and sees himself as a gangster on the run from the law.
The animation on this is real fun, particularly when Donald goes “on the run.” Seeing him in a prototypical gangster outfit and going through typical Donald Duck physical humor is just fun for me, being a fan of film noir and a huge Donald Duck fan.
This short is particularly entertaining for people who have watched classical film noir, because it does make fun of the typical conventions of the genre, again, in the scenes after Donald’s date with Daisy. For example, when Donald is trying to hideout on the roof and goes to the edge to look at another far off building and the narrator tells him “Jump! All gangsters have to do that.”
The short is significant in Disney lore for being nominated for Best Animated Feature in 1946 (it lost to Quiet Please, a classic Tom and Jerry short) as well as being the first time that we hear Daisy’s true voice. As for me, I enjoyed the short immensely, and it has one of my new favorite lines of all time, “I’m financially embarrassed.” Trust me, I’ll use that one at some point in the near future.
Below is the short, and if you have 8 minutes to spare somewhere, I’d give it a watch. It really is a classic.