Poster

Donald's Nephews

A Donald Duck Cartoon

Release Date : April 15, 1938

Running Time : 8:23

Synopsis

Donald's first encounter with his three "angel" nephews, who proceed to destroy his home. Donald turns to the book "Modern Child Training" for help.

Characters

Donald Duck
Huey, Dewey and Louie

Credits

Director
Jack King
Animation
Stan Quackenbush
Don Towsley
Don Williams
Ed Love
Andy Engman
Cornett Wood
Johnny Cannon
Paul Allen
Wolfgang Reitherman
Charles Couch
Jack Hannah
Story
Carl Barks
Dana Coty
Jack Hannah

Milestones

The first appearance of Huey, Dewey and Louie.

Video

United States
Cartoon Classics : First Series : Volume 9 : Donald Duck's First Fifty Years
Germany
Donalds Größte Hits
Pluto auf der Jagd
France
La Bande a Donald
Le Meilleur de Donald
Italy
Video Parade 17
I Capolavori di Paperino

Laserdiscs

Japan
Donald's Greatest Hits

DVD

United States
Disney Treasures : Wave 3 : The Chronological Donald Volume 1
Walt Disney's Funny Factory with Huey, Dewey and Louie
Germany
Disney Treasures : Wave 3 : The Chronological Donald Volume 1
Italy
Disney Treasures : Wave 3 : The Chronological Donald Volume 1
Canada
Walt Disney's Funny Factory with Huey, Dewey and Louie
Sweden
Disney Treasures : Wave 3 : The Chronological Donald Volume 1
United Kingdom
Disney Treasures : Wave 3 : The Chronological Donald Volume 1

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 20: Huey, Dewey and Louie
The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 4: Disney Firsts

Original Animator's Drafts


Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Page 8

Page 9

Page 10

Technical Specification

Color Type: Technicolor
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 RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.

Comments

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : Ahhh….another milestone, with new characters appearing on the scene in the Disney canon. Makes you smile, doesn’t it?

Donald’s Nephews introduces, well, Donald’s nephews – Huey, Dewey and Louie, who would go on to be very good characters for the company. They debuted in this short on the screen, but around the same time in the Donald Duck comic strip and comic books. The creation of the nephews led to an expansion of the “duck universe” in comics, especially those by Carl Barks. That’s a whole other topic, but one I might get to if all of Barks’ comics are ever collected. (Note to Disney: c’mon! Can you get Boom! or Marvel to take care of this?)

Regardless, the question before us today is whether Donald’s Nephews succeeds as a short. My answer is a resounding yes. It takes these new characters and plays them against Donald, leading to an increase in his frustration, and we all know that’s where Donald is at his best.

The short opens with Donald reading a postcard from his sister “Dumbella,” which I found very interesting. Does anyone know if Dumbella ever appeared in the shorts or the comics? This was the first I had heard of her. Regardless, the nephews pictured on the postcard are quite different than the ones who come crashing through Donald’s door only moments later.

To try and get a handle on the hooligans, Donald turns to a parenting book. This is when I started laughing. If you’ve ever been a parent, you know the double edged sword of parenting books. The advice they offer is often great in theory, not so much in practice. Donald finds this out in a hurry.

The rest of the short follows a pattern of Donald reading the advice in the book, following it, calming the boys down for a moment, then having it all go horribly wrong again. But saying it’s a pattern isn’t to say it’s predictable or boring. No, it’s hilariously funny, as we see the boys playing music, soaking Donald with a water balloon and feeding him a “Volcano Mustard” pie. The poor book suffers the consequences of Donald’s frustration.

One thing I took away from this short was how domesticated everything was. We have seen how Mickey has moved away from the rural, barnyard setting to more of a home-based life, but now Donald has joined him. Of course, this mirrors the journey of Walt and his team themselves, especially in this post-Snow White era.

Huey, Dewey and Louie don’t have much character in this short, and as would frequently be the case, they are mostly the same character done three times. Their sole purpose in this short seems to be to irritate Donald. It’s not mean spirited, though, but delivered with a smile. It’s a formula that would be successful again and again in the intervening years.


From Mac : Huey, Dewey and Louie are definitely one of Disney's success stories when it come to introducing new characters to Mickey and Donald's world. There first cartoon is a lot of fun and it would lead to many more. Even in more recent years with the Mouseworks series, a lot of the best Donald Duck cartoons involved Huey, Dewey and Louie.

Dumbella was very much an off screen device rather than a true character. She never appeared in animated form and, as far as I know, never had an active role in the comics. In the nephews' first comic strip in 1937 Donald receives a similar letter from a relative (here named Della) and winds up with the nephews much like in the cartoon. I think years later comic strip artist Don Rosa, who tried to keep consistent timelines and family ties within Carl Barks' duck universe, kept Della as Donald's sister. I know she appeared in his famous Duck family tree image as Donald's sister, but I don't think she's ever appeared in any stories as H, D & L's mother (Although I'm sure there's a story where she's seen as a child with her brother Donald).


From Tom Wilkins : Sister Dumbella informs Donald via postcard that she was sending his "angel" nephews over to his house - Huey, Dewey, and Louie. Little did Donald know that sister Dumbella made a pretty good move and gave Donald more than he could handle.

Donald welcomes the nephews inside, but gets smashed on the wall when they come speeding inside with their own rendition of indoor polo using tricycles. They stop to introduce themselves to Donald, then resume their very rough indoor game when Huey blows his whistle. Of course they proceed to literally smash every fragile thing in sight, including a stack of books that fall down where Donald took cover, including one on "Modern Child Training."

After reading the first suggestion, Donald somehow crosses the heavy polo ball traffic to get to the piano, then begins playing "Pop Goes The Weasel" to somehow try and calm the nephews down. Eventually, the boys shy away from their rough-housing and join in playing the song - Huey on the double-bass, Dewey on trombone, and Louie on accordion. But this would not go smoothly because the kids had something evil planned.

First, Dewey takes a tomato and blows hard from the bell of his trombone, causing the tomato to go airborne and smack into the piano top, quickly enclosing Donald's head in the process. Huey then practices his archery by taking his string bow and flinging it off his double-bass - precisely poking Donald in his fanny and causing his momentum to smack into the piano top holder; once again enclosing his head.

Through all of this, Donald is reminded in the book to never lose his temper in front of the children. However, the nephews team up one more time to clobber Donald using their own tricks. Dewey blows a balloon up (how his lungs could be of helium we don't know), Huey takes a bag filled with water and ties a string connecting the two while Louie is ready to aim at the floating object, waiting for the precise moment where he eventually connects and water splashes all over Donald's head. When Donald asks who did that, all three blame it on another nephew and go into a free-for-all. Donald then gets a very quick answer that the children may just be hungry.

Donald announces that there is food on the table (in this case a golden turkey), but the three continue to viciously fight. Finally, Donald restores some decorum by firmly telling the kids to sit. Donald says the prayer aloud while battling all three hyper nephews from getting the food; but once he says "Amen", it's a four-way battle for food. Even Louie has Donald's "hand" sandwich.

Now, Donald tries the "arouse their sympathy" approach by acting very upset and hopeless because he could not control his nephews. The three seem to fall for it, but great (albeit very evil) minds think alike and had one more plan up their devilish sleeves. Huey apologizes to Donald for hurting his feelings, but simultaneously, Dewey holds open a cherry pie, takes all the cherry filling out of it, and Louie replaces it with volcano brand mustard. Dewey then offers Donald some pie, which Donald loves, so he quickly indulges. After a few seconds, it was time for newscasters to report that a four-alarm fire was taking place inside Donald's mouth, so desperately he screams for water. Well, Donald got more than enough with Dewey throwing a pail of water in his mouth and the other two dumping a tub of water directly on him. To add insult to injury, Huey squirts Donald's mouth with water from a hose while Dewey and Louie add the final nail to the coffin by using the fire extinguisher and foaming Donald, leaving him dazed and confused on the floor. The three nephews say goodbye to him by throwing "the book" and squirting him a couple of times.

In the end, Donald reads the last sentence of the book: "After all, little children are only angels without wings." This was the perfect time for Donald to lose his temper, so he tears the book to shreds as the cartoon ends.


From J. D. Weil : Huey, Dewey. and Louis were the brainchildren of Al Taliaferro who had been recently put in charge of drawing the "Donald Duck" comic strip. Taliaferro was a fan of Frederick Burr Opper's "Happy Hooligan" comic strip and in that strip Happy had been plagued by three obnoxious nephews. Taliaferro decided to do likewise to the duck. At that point. Jack King and the duck unit in animation picked up on the idea and decided to make a screen version as well. So in a piece of unintended synergy, Huey Dewey, and Louis made their debut on screen and in print within a few weeks of each other.
From Lee Suggs : The first appearance of Huey, Dewey, and Louie has them causing Donald major fits.  This is another example of how characters change over time. The three boys are completely evil here, their only goal being torturing Donald. For once Donald tries to control his temper, even consulting a "Modern Child Training" book to aid him in the proper care of his nephews. The boys don't give him a chance, and of course, in the end, Donald explodes. The nephews became much more complex over the years, and eventually had to be wronged by Donald to attack him. Today it depends on the short. The Nephews will attack first (Space Probe) but mostly they retaliate when Donald takes advantage of them.
From Jerry Edwards : I found nothing funny in this short with the three evil nephews tormenting Donald. In general, I've never cared that much for the numerous Donald versus his three nephews shorts.
From Ryan : Here we've got Huey, Dewey, and Louie in their film debut. Donald receives a postcard from his sister Dumbella who is sending the triplets to stay with him. At first Donald is excited and welcomes them in. They ride in with croquet mallets and a ball playing polo (only replacing the horses with tricycles). Donald sees a book on modern child training. One scene I liked was when Donald was playing "Pop Goes the Weasel" for his nephews, they tie balloons to vases (I think that's what happens, but I'll have to watch the short again) and they pop the balloons causing that vases to break. Another funny scene was where they took Donald's pie slice while he was crying on the table trying to gain their sympathy (he's still following the rules in that book), took out the filling, and replaced it with hot mustard. The results were hilarious after Donald ate it. Soon the nephews ride their trikes out of the house resuming their polo game, but only after they had left behind a huge mess. Donald reads in the book on modern child training: After all children are only angels without wings. Well that isn't true with these children. The nephews drove Donald crazy from the very beginning. Perhaps the reason Dumbella sent them to live with their uncle was so that she could recuperate.
From Anthony P. : I would just like to say that whenever I see Donald chew, then burn up on the steaming mustard pie, I just laugh my giggling head off.
From Katelyn : This short makes me glad I don't have three nephews who play tricks on me! My niece is naughty enough! (Just kidding.) No wonder Dumbella dumped those three in Donald's lap! She' probably couldn't handle their antics!
From Baruch Weiss : The funniest scene in this cartoon is when the nephews take hot mustard, put it in a pie slice and give it to Donald!
From J. P. Hope : As Fate always said: "there are MANY accidents involved in child care". In this case: Huey, Dewey, and Louie rushing in on tricycles and playing polo at the same time, harassing Donald with musical instruments, biting Donald's hand thinking it's a sandwich, and poisoning Donald with a volcanic brand mustard pie. There's another equation with this: one slice of mustard pie inserted into Donald's mouth + one REALLY hot head = a chance of getting the throat on fire!

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