I purchased it at Musicland as part of a 3-pack of other "public
domain" type Disney cartoons, the other tapes were for Mickey and Goofy.
Up until today, seeing this site, I had no idea which short it was or
what the story behind it was. Now I am wishing I was still in touch
with this friend so I could see if they still owned the tape.
Like most people, I've never seen more than a scene or two of this
short, but I've seen enough to know it's the best Donald Duck cartoon
ever made, and among the top ten Disney shorts. The backgrounds are
beautifully done--trees, clouds, buildings, everything is swastika-shaped.
I've seen isolated sketches of the coffee bean sequence--from the expressions
on Donald's face alone, it's a wonderful bit of personality animation--the
surreptitious glances mixed with terror and pride. No other cartoon
comes close to portraying this much emotion in one small scene.
It's a crime that this cartoon, because of its theme, is doomed to
languish in Disney vaults. It won the Academy Award, for heaven's sake,
and made Jerry Beck's list of the 50 greatest cartoons ever. Are we
that afraid of offending the current generation of Germans?
As to the song, Spike Jones did a wonderful version that's every
bit as funny as the cartoon. It may be worth rummaging through old records
This get a 10, but I'd give it an 11 were it possible.
I still laugh and laugh. This is the greatest Donald Duck cartoon,
anti-Nazi, pro-America and it certainly deserved the Academy Award it
won 10 !/2 rating.
I don't understand why this can't be bought on VHS/DVD and is effectively
How did I see it? I go to the Academy of Motion Picture arts and
sciences every week for a movie, and one week, they played the best
picture winner of 1942, "Mrs. Miniver." Before they show any best picture
winner, they show the Oscar winning cartoon of that year and it was
there where I saw Der Fuehrer's Face for the first time.
I'm just glad that there's the copy online of this classic short
Der Fuehrer's Face was originally scripted to be the plot for Disney's
first income tax film. The film was originally titled "Donald Duck in
Nutzi Land" but the song, which was released in advance of the film,
became such a huge hit, Disney changed the film's title to der Fuehrer's
Face to match the song's title.
The film's song was written by Studio composer Oliver Wallace who
began his career at Disney's in 1936. Wallace wrote the chorus while
riding his bike to the grocery store. According to the dFF Campaign
Manual, Wallace had two daughters: "...they are typical high school
youngsters more interested in Boogie Woogie...he tried the song on them
and they got such a bang out of it that Wallace new the song was a hit."
When Wallace sang the song to Walt for the first time he was nervous
because of the raspberry sound the chorus contained. Walt pressed Wallace
to sing the song and when he did, Walt allegedly went into hysterical
Recently, while watching the movie "Hart's War", I noticed in the
background a group that was practicing a stage show that was going to
be held by and for the POWs. Sure enough, the song they were rehearsing
was "Der Fuehrer's Face".
Nice to have some background. Thanks.
Admittedly, it's a very emotionally-charged cartoon. It has some
disturbing images, despite all the fun and gags and satire. There's
one brief scene where Donald sees a mirror image of himself dressed
like Hitler, complete with Hitler mustache. The Disney artists did a
good job of portraying things in a funny way while getting their point
across that the Nazis were horrible people. It's hard to make a funny
cartoon about such a horrible subject. As funny as this cartoon is -
and it is very funny - it's also very dark and frightening because of
the subject matter. Disney had a lot of guts to even do this kind of
cartoon. It shows that he was willing to take on serious subjects and
to deal with disturbing topics like the Nazis. It's too bad they didn't
make more cartoons like this and that they don't make more political
cartoons like this now. I can't think of anything more effective in
a wartime situation than to tell stories and boost morale by things
like this. The very fact that it has been banned has only increased
its value. Der Fuehrer's Face is an important cartoon from a historical
point of view.
That being said, I hope when Disney releases their collection of
WWII cartoons on DVD in the next couple months they will not forget
about this gem. Not all cartoons are for kids, and I think sometimes
even the companies forget that.
Of course back then they were allowed to use popular cartoon characters
where as today I doubt we're going to see Spongebob Squarepants poking
fun at Osama and Saddam.
10 out of 10! Wonderful short!
It is also funny to see that many seem to think these 60 year old
propaganda movies really represent some truth.
The next year I was in the US Army Air Force. We sang that song often
to boost our morale. It helped to make fun of a viscious enemy who was
trying to dominate the world along with Italy and Japan. What current
generations don't realize was how deadly those enemies were, nor how
successful they had been during the first few years. We literally had
our backs to the wall as they were advancing on every front. Songs and
cartoons like Der Fuehrer's Face were a great help to keep your spirits
up when you knew that any moment may be your last. An estimated 60-million
people died on both sides including nearly 400,000 Americans - and nine
in my little town os Seaside, Oregon (Population about 2,000).
Another song that we sang at that time went something like this:
Now Adolf Hitler grabbed a tail,
And he hung right on with tooth and nail,
When he saw what he had he began to swear,
On the end of the tail was a Russian bear,
The old bear growled and started in to shake,
And Adolf knew he'd made a big mistake.
He tried to hang on and he tried to let go,
Now they do a new dance called Hitler in the snow.
I saw Musselini sitting on a log
All puffed up like a great big frog,
I snuck up close and poked him with a wire,
And he just went poof like an old flat tire.
There was a verse about Tojo that I don't remember. Anyway, I would
give the cartoon and the song a ten plus. They sure helped us during
very trying, stressful times. By war's end I was studying Japanese radio
intercept code for the invasion of the Japanese mainland. Thank God
the war ended before we had to go. I was 19-years-old.
My late father-in-law, who was of German descent, always got a kick
out the tune and would perform it upon request. I might also add - though
I won't say how I know - that the song is a favorite among American
Nazis, who probably laugh harder at it than anyone else.
Oh, Adolph Hitler grabbed a tail
He hung right on with a tooth and nail
Then he saw what he had and began to swear
On that tail was a Russian bear .
The old bear growled and started in to shake
Adolph knew he'd made a big mistake
So he tried to hang on and he tried to let go
Now they do a new dance called "Hitler in the Snow."
Well I saw Mussoline sitting on a log
All puffed up like a great big frog
So I sneaked up behind him and I stuck him with a wire
He just went poof like an old flat tire .
I took his hide and I hung it on a tree
The tree said hey don't you do that to me
So I took it home to my mother-in-law
And she threw it out with the turkey in the straw.
A monkey and a baboon were sitting on a rail
Feeling mighty sad and looking kinda pale
A little yellow rat came sneaking around a weed
The monkey yelled, "Hey there's the guy we need."
The rat sat up and they all begin to grin
Along came a fellow with whiskers on his chin
He kicked at the rail and broke it with a crack
And that was the end of the Three Power Pack .
Now if I can just find out who the artist was that sang the song
I would be happy.
Living in a country that knows little or almost nothing about the
Nazi Era, this short animation is history made simple.
I’m a World War II buff, as I’ve stated before on this blog. My favorite novels are Herman Wouk’s World War II books, and I know a great deal about the war. So, knowing the atrocities committed in the name of Hitler, seeing one of my favorite cartoon characters say “Heil Hitler” makes me gag reflexively.
At the time, though, Hitler was not a madman who committed near genocide, he was instead a foe of the United States. Therefore, in that context, making fun of him to belittle him makes perfect sense if you were in Hollywood in 1942-1943. This short was released January 1, 1943, so it was right in the midst of the war effort.
If you can move past the horror of the Nazis, the short is quite funny. The original song “Der Fuehrer’s Face” is a hilarious send up of the totalitarian regime. The lyrics tell how all the “Nutzis” have to do whatever the Fuehrer says, no matter how silly, and then take time out of their day to thank him for the oppressive conditions they live in.
Donald comes into the picture as the Nutzi band, made up of some various Axis style members (a Japanese man, an Italian and some Germans) marches through his house to wake him up. Donald’s living conditions, where he has to spray essence of bacon and eggs into his mouth and saw off a piece of stale bread, are a great illustration of what happens in this sort of government.
But the true reveal is when Donald ends up in the factory, trying to keep up the assembly line of shells going while still saluting Hitler any time his picture comes down the pike or whenever the PA system tells him to. There’s even the “vacation” which consists of a mountain backdrop falling for a moment before disappearing. The effect is a brutal condemnation on the effects of a totalitarian regime on the quality of life for the worker. Heady stuff for a cartoon, eh?
As the end comes near, Donald loses it, and the short devolves into a surrealist fantasy, with Nazi whistles, Donald being pounded as he comes down the assembly line. It all fades away to reveal a red, white and blue Donald in bed. It was all a dream!
Despite that, this is still a short I would hesitate to show to younger people or anyone who doesn’t understand the context in which it was produced. If you don’t know the mood of the country at the time, and the ignorance of Hitler’s deeds, then this short could seem very insensitive. Still, it’s one of the most ingenious and well animated shorts in Donald’s long career, so animation fans must view it at least once.
Click on thumbnail for full size image
Submitted by eutychus