Poster

Donald Duck and the Gorilla

A Donald Duck Cartoon

Release Date : March 31, 1944

Running Time : 6:57

Synopsis

Donald's nephews get revenge on Donald by dressing up in a gorilla suit, when a real escaped gorilla breaks into the house.

Characters

Donald Duck
Huey, Dewey and Louie
Ajax, the Gorilla

Credits

Director
Jack King

Video

United States
Donald's Scary Tales
Disney's Halloween Treat
Cartoon Classics : First Series : Volume 3 : Scary Tales
Germany
Tick, Trick und Tracks Größte Hits
Das Große Micky Maus Festival
Die Drei Kleinen Schweinchen und der Böse Wolf
France
Une Cervelle D'oiseau
Le Meilleur de Riri, Fifi, LouLou
Disney Parade 4
Italy
Paperino Guai in Vista
Paperino un Disastro di Eroe
I Capolavori di Qui Quo Qua
Paperino e i Racconti Misteriosi

CED

United States
Cartoon Classics - Scary Tales

Laserdiscs

Donald Scary Tales / Halloween Haunts
Cartoon Classics : Scary Tales
Japan
Disney Cartoon Festival Volume 4
Scary Tales

DVD

United States
Disney Treasures : Wave 5 : The Chronological Donald Volume 2
Mickey's House of Villians
Germany
Disney Treasures : Wave 5 : The Chronological Donald Volume 2
Verschworung der Superschurken Verschworung der Superschurken
Donalds Spassfabrik
France
Walt Disney's Rigolons avec Donald
Italy
Topolino E I Cattivi Disney
United Kingdom
Walt Disney's Laugh Factory with Donald

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 34: Donald's Nephews

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 : Next to Goofy, Donald is my favorite of the big Disney characters. I think his shorts have been consistently funny and imaginative, mainly because of the work of Carl Barks and the story team creating an expansion of Donald’s world. It’s great to see that universe expand with characters and settings.

However, when I come across a short like Donald Duck and the Gorilla, I see something disappointing. After all the hard work in the previous shorts, this one just seems odd, because it’s a rehash of a plot point from an old Mickey short, and falls back onto gags that aren’t particularly new.

The setup for the short is that a gorilla has escaped from the zoo, which Donald and his nephews hear over the radio. Donald just so happens to have a gorilla suit laying around, so he picks up the gloves and uses them to scare the boys. They, in turn, put on the whole suit to scare him. This all takes place in the first couple of minutes of the short.

As you might imagine, from there the real gorilla shows up, and hilarity ensues. Sadly, it does not ensue properly, at least to my mind. There’s the obligatory gag where Donald mistakes the real gorilla for the boys in the suit, and from there it’s a bit of a mess.

There’s a whole sequence where the gorilla doesn’t show up, but the boys are sneaking around with Donald while carrying a candle. The candle ends up dripping wax on Donald’s tail, overheating a doorknob and generally is a nuisance. Is it funny? Mildly, but the whole time I was wondering where the gorilla was.

After that, the boys basically disappear, and the short is about the gorilla chasing Donald. It’s not that it’s a bad thing, but it is not necessarily good, either. Donald is funny, but we don’t get to see much of that here. We really get to see an old Mickey short revamped, and you could have dropped any character in this short and made it work. That’s why I can’t recommend this one.


From Tom Wilkins : On a cold and rainy night, we find inside a dilapidated house Donald and his nephews listening to the radio and hearing an announcement of a gorilla on the loose. Huey, Dewey, and Louie get hysterical when the radio announcer says that the gorilla "is a killer." Donald laughs and mocks them, then sees a pair of gorilla gloves next to the lamp post where he is sitting. He plays a prank on the nephews by turning the lights out, sneaked behind the couch and nearly snatched the three petrified nephews. When one of the nephews sees who did this prank, it was time for them to get even.

The three of them decide to dress up as one gorilla and decide to turn the tables on Donald. Donald grabs a book, and as he sits down he sits on gorilla's lap (the nephew's one obviously) without even knowing it. He also takes a lick of his lollipop, but the nephews take a huge "Dracula" bite into it and eventually scares the living daylights out of Donald once he realized who (or what) he was sitting on. As Donald runs for cover, the real gorilla shows up by entering through the upstairs window and scares the nephews away. It did not take long for Donald to see who played the prank on him as costume bodyparts ran like spastic nerves all over the place. Donald comes back and tries to jump on the gorilla knowing it was his nephews inside the costume, but little did he realize that he was jumping on a REAL gorilla until he sees the costumed one pass by. Donald finally realizes what he got himself into when he yelled for the boys inside the gorilla only to get an echo chamber as a response.

The radio made another announcement that suggested that anyone could tame a wild animal by looking at him straight into the eye of gorilla. Donald sees the gorilla's eye with a volatile message: "Here lies a dead duck." Donald better run safari away that he won't be caught! But anyway, despite my foul attempt in humor, Donald takes his defense weapon (an umbrella) and shoves it in the gorilla's mouth, slowing him up for sure!

All four of them (Donald and the nephews) sneak all over the upstairs part of the house, but unfortunately, wax falls on the tail of Donald, and the wax ironically shaped up as a gorilla's hand. One of the nephews takes the waxed hand off of Donald's tail, then later nails Donald again with the flame in the fanny! Talk about your hot feathery butt! Donald then takes the candle and chases the nephews away, but Donald turns completely clumsy by burning his hand as he lights the doorknob with the flame!

As Donald "ballets" his way across the floor, the gorilla is swinging across the wooden poles at the top of the inside of the house. Somehow, Donald runs up on the gorilla, but as he tries to run away, he is yanked through door by the gorilla, but without it paying attention until the duck imprints fall off. The chase is on!

Donald speeds away with the gorilla close behind, swings down a pole, pulls a ladder in front of him and causes the gorilla fly airborne through about 15 stories of rooms! But the gorilla quickly recovers and the chase resumes across long corridors and very lengthy tables. Donald tries to backpedal away from the gorilla but leaves lots of plywood in the hands of the monster. But Donald's luck runs out when he falls through the open insert of the table and finds himself sandwiched as the gorilla tries to bite his hiny.

During the battle, another radio announcement is made to use tear gas, which the nephews get. One of them throw it into the room where Donald was getting himself crunched. The nephews saved him again as the gorilla is hit right away with the chemical. Donald breathes a sigh of relief, then laughs once he sees the gorilla suffering. At that instant, Donald gets hit, and he now shares in the gorilla's misery, forcing the two of them to share a tissue and make funny foghorn noises to close out the cartoon.

Now I'm not about to be affected by this lack-of-a-tearjerker ending, if you know what I mean!


From Ryan : I first saw this short on a video called "Disney's Halloween Treat." I enjoy this short quite a bit as I'm a fan of the Donald/nephews shorts. It sure would be scary for one to have a gorilla in their house. That's exactly the way Donald and his nephews felt. I liked the part where Donald is reading his book and licks his sucker. The gorilla takes a bite of it, leaving an impression of vampire fangs. Donald turns around and of course thinks the gorilla is his nephews playing a trick on him as they did earlier. This is quite similar to the Mickey Mouse short The Gorilla Mystery.
From Baruch Weiss : This is one of my favorite Donald Duck shorts. I enjoyed the part where one of his nephews burned his fanny and his head turns into a teapot.
From Andrew Collins : This is probably my favorite Donald Duck short. When I was younger, it was on a VHS tape entitled "Scary Tales", followed by Duck Pimples, The Skeleton Dance and a lot more. I always enjoyed the Donald Duck shorts in which Huey, Dewey, and Louie were featured as well. It's typical Donald -attitude, temper, the whole nine yards.
From Happy : Another cartoon I haven't seen in years, until a couple of years ago. I remember being afraid of this short, as a kid, because of the gorilla's roar and his scary teeth. However, I finally managed to watch it and overcome being afraid of it. I did find it funny in a way because of their attempts to get the gorilla while tiptoeing around with an axe and a candle. I laugh when I see Donald coaxing his nephews onward as he is ready to smack their butts.
From Jeff Keene : I have a question, probably of historical context. After the radio announcements made in this Disney short, the announcer says, "Breckinridge" (or "Breckinridge" of a different spelling) with no other reference as to what that meant. Does anyone know what this refers to? I know that J.C. Breckinridge was the 14th vice president of the US, but what that has to do with anything, I can't tell. HELP! It's one of those "have to know because it's killing me" things. Thanks in advance.
From Billy Joe : On a rather spooky night, Huey, Duey and Louie hear the radio annouce that a gorilla has escaped from the zoo. They play a prank on Donald using a gorilla costume. The funniness comes when the real gorilla enters Donald's house. Donald could not prove that the real gorilla is his newphews.

I especially love the ending where the gorilla and Donald sniff tear medicine and begin to cry together, which saved Donald from being killed. This short reminded me of a Tom & Jerry cartoon. Donald Duck and the Gorilla gets an easy 10 out of 10.


From Bryan Hensley : I currently own this short on the VHS version of Mickey's House of Villains. It seems perfect for a Halloween cartoon, since it can get creepy. One time, the gorilla (named Ajax) ran up a ladder and broke through many layers of floors and through a mattress in the attic. How big was Donald's house anyway? Donald's tailfeathers act as a third hand twice in this short: once to tell Donald how to get away from Ajax and the second to poke Ajax in the eyes. Reminds me of something any of the Three Stooges would've done! At least the tear gas stopped Ajax from murdering Donald and made both of them cry their eyes out. This short was also on Volume 13 of Disney Cartoon Classics VHS collection, entitled "Donald's Scary Tales", also a Halloween video, only 12 years older than Mickey's House of Villains!
From Mike : I always loved this cartoon. Huey, Dewey, & Louie were hilarious when they dressed up in the gorilla costume, and eat Donald's lollipop. Also the end with Donald & the gorilla crying still makes me laugh really hard.

Referenced Comments