Donald's Ostrich

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

Director: Jack King
Producer: Walt Disney
Writer: Carl Barks

Animator: Jack Hannah

  • Clarence Nash — Donald Duck (voice)

Walt Disney Productions: 1937

9 minutes December 2009

A radio-powered ostrich

Donald's Ostrich is an early one-reel film of Donald Duck, evolved past his initial barely-formed character of 1934, but not dominated by an ever-flowing irascibility that mars many of his film appearances — as distinct from his vastly more interesting comic-book persona soon to be developed by Carl Barks.

A difficulty with Donald Duck animation is his nearly incomprehensible voice as rendered for the sound track. Donald doesn't have many lines in this one, so it's not too bad.

In Donald's Ostrich, Donald is working alone at a whistle-stop railway depot when a passing train unloads a box at his station, containing an Ostrich named Hortense. Ostriches have the reputation for swallowing anything, which is good fun in animation because we can watch a succession of oddly-shaped objects wiggling inside an ostrich's over-long gullet. A concertina is ideal for this.

What really is superb, though, begins with the role-playing of Donald's desktop radio. As Donald switches among stations, from singing to a boxing match to an auto race, the little radio gets into the spirit of each broadcast, reeling with the boxers and so on. And when, inevitably, the ostrich swallows the radio, the radio's antics are enlarged, mobilized by the ostrich's long legs, as the ostrich herself voices and embodies the boxers and the race cars. This is very well done. Hortense's internalized-radio dancing shows her to be a near relatiion to the ostriches in Disney's coming animated feature, Fantasia (1940).

A fun and pleasant (except to Donald) reel around the depot with a radio-powered ostrich.


© 2009 Robert Wilfred Franson


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