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As in the trio shorts, the idea is a simple one – Donald and Goofy are trappers in the Arctic, with Goofy trying to catch a walrus, and Donald manning the stove in the igloo. Now, how he is operating a stove inside an igloo without melting it, I don’t know. Regardless, as in most of the trio shorts, from that premise, the gags start flowing quickly.
Donald’s story is set up from the get go, as he is surrounded in the kitchen by nothing but beans. Donald’s frustration causes him to fixate on securing a penguin to be his dinner. My favorite gag in the entire short is watching Donald dress up in a tuxedo to impersonate a penguin. It’s a fantastic gag, with music backing his motions perfectly in time and he even fools a female penguin – for a little while.
Meanwhile, Goofy’s big gag involves a cave covered in ice. After chasing a walrus into the cave, he discovers that the slightest noise will cause icicles to come crashing down. It was a fantastic gag, because as anyone knows, the minute someone or something tells you can’t do something, that’s all you want to do. A giant sneeze leads Goofy to being buried in ice.
The last part of the short involves Donald fooling a school of penguins by playing Pied Piper. This is a really cute segment, because of the interaction with Donald and a smaller penguin. The little penguin continually gets in Donald’s way, and our favorite duck has to try and throw the little guy out of the way or divert him.
As you’d imagine, it doesn’t work out so well, as a random tear by the little penguin freezes and becomes a snowball, rolling downhill and trashing Donald and Goofy’s camp. It’s a great action packed gag to end the short, calling back to the crash landing endings of some of the early Mickey shorts.
Polar Trappers isn’t going to be confused with art like
The Old Mill or some of the beautiful backdrops from
Wynken, Blynken and Nod, but it’s not trying to be that. This is a gag first short, but it works beautifully.