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In this short, Donald enters boot camp as he joins the army with
the hope of flying. It starts with a catchy and ironic army song, as
he enters the building to have his medical exam. In the exam he is tested
to see whether he is suitable. Despite being color blind and too short,
he gets the OK.
Donald has his first marching lesson, as he follows the other soldiers
and Sgt Pete. Immediately we get the idea Donald isn't very disciplined.
When Pete shouts 'halt', Donald carries on marching right into other
soldiers. Pete tries to correct Donald, but to no avail. Donald even
cuts Pete's tie off with his gun. Pete then gives Donald some 'Special
Training' on his own. Pete gives Donald several orders, all of which
he messes up. Some funny moves here. Eventually, Pete loses his cool
and spins Donald like a top and in turn Donald loses his cool too. Donald
yells 'I quit'. Pete threatens him with brass knuckles and so Donald
takes it back and decides to comply with Pete's commands.
The next scene is where we really get to see Donald at his best.
Pete shouts 'Attention', Donald does so. Pete specifically tells him
not to move a muscle. Donald thinks everything is finaly going right,
then ants start coming out of the ground and crawling onto Donald's
legs. Donald feels them walking on him and shakes his rear. Pete shouts
'attention!' again and Donald realizes that he still has to stand still
even with the itch. It is hilarious (in a cruel kind of way) watching
Donald desperately trying not to move, while the ants, now on his bare
lower body, crawl on him. Pete turns his back, and Donald takes the
opportunity to scratch off some ants. Pete hears him, turns around,
and shouts 'I said don't move!'. Donald sweats as he tries to keep still
with an ever increasing number of itchy ants crawling all over him.
I'm guessing Pete can see the ants, and is just being sadistic. Donald
attempts to flick off some ants with his tail was one ant climbs on
his beak and gets hit by a ball of sweat. Donald fails to stop the ants
from becoming so numerous that he loses control and runs around with
his gun firing in all directions, but Pete's in particular.
Donald gets Potato Duty. End.
The fantastic thing about this short is that Disney is not using it as propaganda, although it’s clear that is what it’s “supposed” to be. You would imagine a propaganda short would glamorize the Army lifestyle and show people the great things about joining the Army.
That’s not the case here, although Donald thinks so at the beginning. All sorts of posters line the streets, encouraging him to join the Armed Forces. Donald even inserts himself into one poster, thinking that he would be the one between two fine looking maidens. Donald quickly gets the idea that he wants to be a pilot.
His experiences in the enlistment office, though, are quite different. Despite his stated preference, the doctors and draft board officials poke and prod him, in some of the funniest scenes ever featuring Donald. I loved watching him get thrown around the office and eventually being thrown into the worst fitting uniform ever.
I have to mention the music, too. Throughout the short, there is a constant song “The Army’s Not The Army Anymore” that extols the virtues of the “modern” Army. The song mentions over and over again how things are different and that people aren’t yelling and screaming at you. As you can imagine, this serves very much as the counterpoint to what is happening in the short, just like the narration in the Goofy “How To” series.
Donald’s drill instructor turns out to be none other than Pete, Mickey’s old nemesis. You can imagine how that will turn out. Donald’s desire to go and fly interferes with his compliance with orders, with predictable results.
You see what I mean about not glamorizing Army life? It’s a clever approach, because the viewer can blame Donald for making mistakes, rather than assuming the Army is to blame. That makes Donald Gets Drafted a very effective way to promote the war effort without straying too far from what made Disney so special.
Donald comes marching into the draft board wanting to fly and shows the
army general his intentions physically. He is extremely hesitant to do anything
- so he asks Donald to sign his name on a form and then tells him he needs
to have a physical examination. So, Donald proceeds through the back door
for his physical. Donald is then measured and checked up from head to toe,
even though he could not tell the difference between the colors green and
blue (even though the questions were a complete joke). He then gets measured
for his uniform and hat size - the doctors use an oversized uniform, throw
water on it, and the uniform consequently shrinks. As soon as he gets his
stamp of approval (on his rear), you would think Donald would get a chance
to fly. Not quite.
Donald looks up at the planes in the sky and mumbles in frustration how
much he wants to fly. So, as he is marching, we hear Sergeant Peg Leg (Pete)
tell Donald to get back in formation. He yells "halt", but Donald ignroes
the commands and ends up halting (after the second command) at the front
of the line. The comedy starts here, and this would make even Hitler laugh
... sort of.
Donald is given an "about face" command and slices the tie off of Sergeant
Peg Leg with his weapon. Peg Leg then dismisses the company and keeps Donald
for so-called special training. He then shouts out more commands - and Donald
clumsily is twisted the entire time ... tearing off part of his hat and
progressively frustrating Pete in the process. Pete then says to Donald
that "you're no soldier" and slaps him around a bit, causing Donald to bark
back, "I quit!" The only problem is, you're not allowed to quit once you're
in the army. So, Peg leg takes off his uniform and threatens to knock Donald
out with a pair of brass knuckles. Donald obviously takes back what he says.
Peg Leg tells him that he has to learn discipline, so he yells the "attention"
command to Donald and he complies, so Peg Leg tells him not to move a muscle.
The only problem is, Donald is standing over an antfarm so it would be next
to impossible to stay still with the number of ants that were about to land
on him. One ant crawls to Donald's beak but gets knocked off by his sweat.
After several attempts by Peg Leg to keep Donald at attention, the ants
become too numerous for Donald to handle, and Donald goes ballistic and
starts firing away at anything and everything in its path, hitting Peg Leg
several times as he was running for cover up a tree. Peg Leg used his whistle
hoping for Donald to stop, but resistance was simply futile at this point.
In the end, Donald gets his first discipline lesson from Sergeant Peg
Leg ... he had to peel a room filled with potatoes. In frustration, Donald
carves the word "phooey" out of one of the potato skins as the cartoon closes.
For Donald, it could have been worse. In one of Donald's later war cartoons
Fall Out, Fall In, he had to march 50 miles to camp! What poison would
you rather choose?