Commando Duck

A Donald Duck Cartoon

Release Date : June 2, 1944

Running Time : 6:54

Synopsis

Donald is given a wartime assignment to wipe out a Japanese airfield.

Characters

Donald Duck

Credits

Director
Jack King

Cut Scenes

All reference to the Japanese as the enemy has been cut out.

Video

Germany
Donald 50 Verrückte Jahre
France
Bon Anniversaire Donald
Italy
Paperino Marmittone

Laserdiscs

Japan
Donald Duck's 50 Crazy Years

DVD

United States
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
The Mickey Mouse Club : November 5, 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 : It sometimes seems in the war years that all Disney produced is Donald Duck shorts. There’s probably a good reason for that, as Donald was the company’s most popular character at the time, and was deeply ingrained into the populace as Disney’s face for the war effort. But other than the occasional Goofy or Pluto short, it’s a lot of Donald.

Commando Duck is, at least, a continuation of the war shorts that saw our favorite duck join the military and be belittled by Pete. Pete is absent in this short, but now that Donald has enlisted, been through basic training and served on the base, he’s ready to go out into the field. The short opens with Donald ready to parachute out of a plane, to sabotage a Japanese base.

The mission is frankly impossible. Donald has to parachute in and singlehandedly destroy the base, but the officer in the plane doesn’t give him much guidance. When Donald lands and starts rowing down the river, the Japanese are targeting him the entire time. It’s this part of the short that has caused it to be taken out of rotation at Disney. The Japanese in the short are caricatures, and not flattering ones. It’s not surprising of course, considering that the filmmakers were “at war” with the Japanese, but it’s insensitive by today’s standards.

The solution to the issue of how Donald will destroy the base is inventive. Similar to How To Be A Sailor, where Goofy just lucked into things but destroyed the entire fleet, here Donald has an accident that ends up accomplishing his main goal. It’s very fitting to his character, too, because you would never imagine Donald being able to accomplish this on his own.

What happens is that Donald’s inflatable boat goes over a waterfall, but does so in a way that it ends up filling up with water. As the boat expands, the water keeps filling it and it “chases” Donald through a canyon full of rocks. The fun is in seeing Donald try to keep the boat from popping and washing him away, all while trying to run away.

When it ultimately does pop, it ends up washing away the Japanese base that lay right beneath the cliff facing Donald was running away from. It’s a supremely effective weapon that ends the Japanese threat and the short as well. While this one gag is effectively the entire short, that’s not necessarily bad. Again, though, this feels like a short where Donald didn’t have to be the main character. It makes sense why he is, because of his previous war shorts, but it could have worked with Mickey or Goofy as well.


From Richard F. Jebe : The german Video is uncut! And it is in englisch language with subtitles. But it is PAL. D'oh!
From Jerry Edwards : Donald is given a secret mission to wipe out a Japanese airbase. Unfortunately, he isn't told how he is supposed to accomplish this alone. Donald gets swept over a waterfall, causing his raft to continue to enlarge like a huge balloon - filling up the water from the waterfall. Donald is thrown clear when the balloon bursts and watches all the debris from the flood wipe out the base.

This is a very imaginative cartoon and one of Donald's funniest. It is full of anti-Japanese jokes, including sniper Japs refusing to fire at Donald until Donald's back is turned to them.


From Jesus Daprice : The scenes with the washed down airplanes looked very much like a Salvador Dali painting.
From Ryan : This is one of my favorite Donald Duck cartoons. Donald is told to destroy a Japanese airfield. However, he has to watch out for dangerous things such as alligators and snipers (the shooting Japanese). I always laugh at the Japanese caricatures. In fact, I own a book called "Our Glorious Century," which covers the chronicle of the 20th Century. It has a photograph of Japanese people who look very much like one of them in this cartoon. I think Disney should show this cartoon on TV and it should be uncensored. As Jesus Daprice pointed out, the planes that are washed up after the river floods the airfield does look like a Salvador Dali painting.
From Erik : A very funny Donald short. Though I had to watch it with German subtitles, it was spoken in English, and I could care less. This cartoon had me rolling on the floor. The Donald wartime cartoons really are as funny as it gets.
From Mike : I watched this one the first time when I was 3 years old. It was funny then, and it is even more funny now as I am 18 years old and knows a little bit of history.
From Baruch Weiss : I must admit
From Da Von : I think I remember seeing this Disney short on the Disney channel back in the mid-'90s. That was back when that channel on our old, last TV in the den was scrambled and when it was clear it lasted for at least a week in our area (that probably was the case that I know of anyway). Unfortunately, it was one of those channels that my parents would have had to call our cable service provider for and probably pay extra, and they either couldn't afford or weren't willing to do that (not sure), so I was stuck with that, which was why I didn't get to watch it clearly often for years (until sometime into the 2000s, when it was finally unscrambled altogether and the TV station/network or cable provider decided to do that at last, fine time...) but could hear. Again, anyway, this was one of those times when the picture was clear and normal. I was dressed and ready to go somewhere with my mama, to pick up my daddy from work (not sure if that was it, but I think it is), and I just watched this until my mama was ready to go in the meantime. I recollect liking this the first time I saw it (and still do), though I'm not quite sure if I saw the whole thing or just some of it. This is definitely one of my favorite WWII-era/ wartime Disney shorts, I like the Japanese snipers too. Also, I like Donald's fast-thinking, spur-of-the-moment tactics and techniques in getting out of perilous situations, tackling them and taking on the enemies. He still managed to do some improvising and be creative on the spot despite not already having a plan of attack nor any fellow army men to accompany and assist him, but he still came through in the end. It's a neat short and although I'm not really an adventurous person and wouldn't want to go through what he or anyone else did, I guess I do, however, like watching the adventurousness of it , which I think, for me, is what makes this such a great, interesting short and among the best in my opinion. This and others like it would be perfect to watch in history class, even if you're not a big history buff, they would hopefully make the subject more interesting, fun, entertaining and even much easier to wrap your mind around or engross. I recommend it for that reason, plus, history becomes more fascinating when done in animated form. I contemplated and was tempted to order one of those Walt Disney Treasures DVD sets, and plan on doing so soon, I might get the On The Front Lines one first or Disney Rarities, but I still plan on getting the former if I don't decide on that one officially first. For all the first time viewers of this short, check it out like I did again for the first time in years or buy one of the 2 Walt Disney Treasures on which it's featured/included. I enjoyed it and know you all will too.