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Of course, the climax, with the Robot Barber's Chair, is just so great.
Poor Donald gets strapped down and ends up with his behind getting a trim
and styling, and his face getting covered in black shoe polish and shined.
All! the while, he keeps yelling and squawking to be released, and the machine
just prattles on (reminds me of a few barbers/hairdressers I've had.) I
like the part right before the hot towel is put on, where robotic hands
are just mussing up his tail feathers and totally humiliating him...so funny,
even though I feel kinda sorry for Donald! He ends up with a shiny blackface
and well-parted bottom. And his hat still gets taken!
I love those old cartoons from the 30's and 40's where we see "futuristic"
things like robots and such, because we still don't have anything like them
(although that might be a good thing!) But I love all the design work that
went into this cartoon- there's so much interesting stuff in the background,
and the foreground. I also really like the music in this cartoon, it's so
upbeat and we get some great themes during each sequence with a machine,
and the sound effects and voice work in particular are great too.
Donald cartoons just don! 't get any better than this for me, it's side-splittingly
funny. The whole thing just comes together so well, it's a great cartoon
that deserves a lot more exposure than it gets.
I loved the musical score during the title and end presentation and I
loved the part where Donald is getting "The Works" and the "Barber" gives
him a cut on his butt and says "This is the very latest in creation and
should be very becoming to you sir; brings out your personality!" I also
agree with Ryan that this could very well be Donald's first solo appearance,
but doesn't it seem odd for him to be all alone in one big museum? It would
have been nice to include some other familiar Disney characters including
It's a great cartoon though and one that's well worth re-watching not just because it's so funny, but also to check out some of the excellent background paintings. Once again there's an art deco feel to the interiors and there's some wonderfully elaborate contraptions (some barely only on screen for a second). In fact there's an
incredible attention to detail about everything in this cartoon. Notice how everything shiny is especially highlighted right down to the transparent cellophane that Donald gets wrapped in so we can see him thrashing about inside.
You’d have to live in my house to understand, but if you’ve seen this short, you know the robot butler is the best running gag we’ve seen in Disney shorts. That’s right, I said the best. Take Donald’s magic pockets or sleeves that he used in
The Band Concert to produce flutes seemingly out of nowhere and combine them with a robot who keeps taking his hat, and you have comedy gold. Donald produces a series of sillier and sillier hats throughout the short, from a top hat to a Napoleon looking general’s hat.
Aside from that running gag, the rest of the short features Donald’s interactions with various mechanical contraptions designed to “make life easier.” As anyone who has dealt with technology over the years knows, sometimes the new device designed to make things easier actually makes it harder. That’s the case for Donald.
He has the first attack come from the automatic bundling machine. Watching Donald get tied up in knots is funny, but it is of course his reaction to that that makes it so good. This is a short that could not have worked with Mickey, because Donald’s frustration and silly laugh make the humor work.
My personal favorite is the baby carriage. When Donald runs away from the robot butler (again), he dives into a baby carriage. This little sequence demonstrates my favorite parts of Donald’s character. He is fun loving, because he gets into the spirit of things, putting on a baby bonnet and playing along with the carriage that plays him music and rocks him. But as always, Donald has to try and push it too far, asking for a bottle, with disastrous consequences.
The final sequence, with Donald stuck upside down in a barber’s chair, is classic Donald. Watching his tail feathers get turned into a finely coiffed hairdo is funny, but I like the way he gets his face polished with shoe polish.
Donald’s frustration is classic, and it’s what makes us love him. I said it before, but Donald is what we all end up being, even though we want to be Mickey. Donald is like me, so I love to watch him go through things that are just larger, more cartoonish versions of what I’ve gone through.