Poster

The Old Army Game

A Donald Duck Cartoon

Release Date : November 5, 1943

Running Time : 6:58

Synopsis

The old shell game gets a new face as Donald stays off-base past "Taps" and has to try to sneak back in with out alerting Pete.

Characters

Pete
Donald Duck

Credits

Director
Jack King
Animation
Paul Allen
Bob Carlson
Story
Carl Barks
Jack Hannah

Cut Scenes

A scene where Donald considers suicide thinking that he has been cut in half has been snipped out.

Video

United States
Cartoon Classics : Limited Gold Editions II : An Officer and a Duck
Italy
Paperino Marmittone

Laserdiscs

United States
Cartoon Classics : Limited Gold Editions II : An Officer and a Duck

DVD

Disney Treasures : On the Front Lines
Disney Treasures : Wave 5 : The Chronological Donald Volume 2
Germany
Disney Treasures : Wave 5 : The Chronological Donald Volume 2

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 31: The Unseen Disney
The Mickey Mouse Club : October 19, 1956

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 : Now this is more like it! The Old Army Game pits Donald against Pete yet again, in the role of beleaguered Army private versus the angry Sergeant. It comes back to the humor and fun you would expect from a Disney short, with a coherent, tightly packed story that features some fantastic acting from the main characters.

Donald is attempting to sneak back onto the base after breaking curfew for the night to go out on the town. Pete discovers this after going through the barracks and finding a bunch of “dummy” privates in the bed, complete with a pre-recorded snore soundtrack. Pete catches Donald coming back in, and hilarity ensues.

The title of the short comes from the version of the old shell game that Donald forces Pete to play once he escapes the barracks. Hiding under one of three boxes, Donald reaches out from the boxes to shuffle them around, hiding himself in the process. This sequence is truly hilarious. The viewer gets to play along with Pete, trying to locate Donald as the boxes shuffle around.

Where the short takes a turn to the darker side is when Pete throws aside the boxes and one of them gets cut up. When Donald is inside that box, it leads to a sequence of events that probably is the darkest in all of the Donald shorts, if not all of Disney animation. What do I mean? How about amputation and suicide?

Donald attempts to leave the box, and looks down only to see the bottom half of his body missing. He is scared and then shocked to discover this, and thinks that he no longer has legs. Pete wanders up and discovers the same thing, and they both break down into tears. If you watch the short and think that this is obviously a temporary thing, it’s quite funny.

Where it gets less funny is when Donald decides that enough is enough, and steals Pete’s gun, choosing to shoot himself in the head. You read that right – Donald is about to commit suicide! Rather than stop him, Pete points him over to a bush to do it away from prying eyes. It’s so surreal to see Donald struggling with the gun, until he finally crawls away.

Of course, when Donald starts over towards the bush, it turns out that his legs were just embedded in the dirt. Pete sees this and the chase scene continues, but with a little twist. A sign outside the base tells them both that the speed limit is 35 miles an hour. It’s a commentary on the times, when motorists were being encouraged to conserve gas and drive slower.

The Old Army Game has everything I’m looking for in a Disney short. Donald and Pete’s animation is fantastic, and the comedy in the short is pitch perfect. The whole missing legs and suicide sequence is actually quite funny, even as its also somewhat disturbing. This is definitely a short you will enjoy.


From Jerry Edwards : Private Donald Duck sneaks into the barracks after a night on the town, but is caught by Pete, his sergeant. Donald hides under one of three crates when Pete chases him. Pete, frustrated when he cannot find which crate Donald is under, kicks the crate in anger - which the sharp top of a fence slices in half. Donald lands in a hole and, seeing the crate, assumes he has been cut in two. Pete also assumes so when he sees only the top half of Donald and feathers scattered around the other half of the crate. Donald takes Pete's pistol to put himself out of his misery, but Pete begs Donald to crawl behind the bushes. As Donald crawls, first Pete and then Donald realizes that Donald is not injured. Pete loses his temper and chases Donald with his bayonet rifle.

A fun Pete versus Donald wartime short, which makes no sense when the suicide attempt is censored.


From Ryan : This is one of Donald's greatest hits. I enjoyed the part where Pete is keeping watch at night to make sure the soldiers are all in their bunkers. He sees a fake Donald Duck (made out of flour bags, clothespins, etc.)and a sound effects record of repeated snoring recordings. Donald has actually snuck out of the army camp. I also liked the part at the end of the short where Pete is chasing Donald and there is a speed zone sign that says to go slow. They slowly move off into the distance.
From George M. Peters : What really gave me a bellyful of laughs was the sound effect record, "Assorted Snores". I wonder if there is such a sound effects CD available today.
From Baruch Weiss : This short is okay, but it is not anything to write home about. In fact, the most dramatic moment in the cartoon was when Donald thought he had been cut in half, so he attempts suicide!
From j.p.hope : I like this short

Referenced Comments