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The Ugly Duckling

A Silly Symphony

Release Date : December 17, 1931

Running Time : 7:11


The classic tale of an unwanted newborn who grows into a beautiful swan, but here retooled into an outcast duckling who returns to save his family.


Ugly Duckling


Wilfred Jackson
Johnny Cannon
Les Clark
Dick Lundy
Rodolfo "Rudy" Zamora
Frenchy de Tremaudan
Gerry "Clyde" Geronomi
Frank Tipper
Dave Hand
Charles Hutchinson
Harry Reeves
Daniel Tattingham
Hardie Gramatky
Cecil Surrey
Jack Cutting
Albert Hurter
Asst. Animator
Charles Couch
Joe D'Igalo
Carlos Manriquez
Emil Flohri
Mique Nelson
Charles Philippi
Frank Churchill
Bert Lewis


Based on the story "The Ugly Ducking"


United States
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
United Kingdom
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies


The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 7: Storybook Silly Symphonies
The Mickey Mouse Club : January 19, 1956

Technical Specification

Color Type: Black & White
Animation Type: Standard animation
Sound Mix: Mono
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Negative Format: 35mm
Print Format: 35mm
Cinematographic Process: Spherical
Original Language: English

Released by Columbia Pictures, Inc.


From Jerry Edwards : While this cartoon is loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale - there are some important differences. In this 1931 cartoon, the Ugly Duckling is REALLY a DUCKLING, hatched with CHICKEN eggs. When the mother hen scorns the little duckling, he runs away in dismay. When a tornado drops the mother's chicks into a flood-swollen river, the duckling saves them from being carried over a waterfall - thus becoming the hero of the family. One rather jarring scene early in the cartoon is when the mother hen backhands the little duckling. Fantastic animation for this early time frame of the tornado and flood-swollen river. One cute scene is when the tornado passes over a dog (with a full coat of hair) that is half-in and half-out his dog house. The dog (!) comes out of the dog house showing his front half all bald from the wind and his back half still with a full coat of hair - funny sight gag. One cute touch is that the duckling uses a bellows to propel the chicks against the rushing water in the rescue. This is an absolutely wonderful early cartoon - which few people seem to have seen. I don't know why Disney hasn't released this on video or shown it on the Disney Channel - that I'm aware of.
From Ryan : While not as sophisticated as the later 1939 remake, this version is still quite good. In this version, the "ugly duckling" really is a duckling and his "mother" a hen. I enjoy the animation of this short such as the cyclone scene. It reminds me of The Wizard of Oz. I also feel the scene where the duckling walks over to the pond is nicely done and the frog is very well animated. I also enjoy the gag where the dog sticks his head out of his doghouse and the cyclone removes the fur on his front half while his back half still has its fur. I have long been wondering why this cartoon had never been released on video or aired on TV in the past, but I am glad it has been released on the Silly Symphonies Treasures DVD set.
From Chris Purdue : I give this Silly Symphony 5. I don't tend to enjoy the black and white shorts as much as the ones in color, and the same is true for this one, but I think it is good animation for it's time. He is an actual duckling in this one rather than the swan in the later version, and the animation is crude, but you still feel sorry for the little guy. His quack is a bit annoying, but by the end of the short, it doesn't matter. You see what a wonderful little guy he is because he saves all the little chicks from drowning.
From Gijs Grob : Although crude and primitive compared to the 1939 short, this first version of The Ugly Duckling is a milestone in Disney's storytelling: where the earlier Silly Symphonies contained a lot of repetitive animation and dance routines The Ugly Duckling tells one coherent story from the beginning to the end. Even the Mickey Mouse films of that time are not that consistent.

The duckling (who repeatedly looks to the audience for sympathy -not unlike Oliver Hardy) is a real character who transforms from an outcast to a hero, and gains its well-earned sympathy at last.

This short, which is neither about gags nor about moving to music, would be the first testimony of Disney's ambitions in storytelling.

From Kyle Peters : This short is my favorite Silly Symphony! I don't know why they had to end the Silly Symphonies series so soon.

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