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Saturday Matinee


June 16, 2018

Saturday Matinee #104: "Corn Chips" (March 23, 1951)

Published December 29, 2012

by Albert Gutierrez

Chip 'n' Dale short cartoon, Corn Chips

Chip 'n' Dale shorts often leave me feeling conflicted at times. On the one hand, we get fun and brilliant shorts like "Two Chips and a Miss," which turn our diminutive heroes into rivalling suitors for a lounge singer. On the other hand, the lion's share of their appearances are usually them taking something away from Donald or Pluto. While the gags that arise are diverting, the formulaic nature of such shorts tends to support the "if you've seen one, you've seen them all" mentality. Then again, we can't expect every single short to be wholly unique from the other. That kind of optimism is, frankly, unrealistic. When a studio has budgets and deadlines, the tried-and-true formulas usually are easier to work with as opposed to always branching out. Plus, we can still look at formulaic shorts and derive what makes them different, how each one treats the same situation or conflict. That's the beauty and the curse of such shorts. This week, we'll look at a rather standard Chip 'n' Dale short, "Corn Chips," and see how it remains faithful to - and deviates from - the usual formula for Chip 'n' Dale shorts.

Chip 'n' Dale in Corn Chips

Donald is shoveling snow, when he realizes that Chip 'n' Dale are masters at it. In their haste to shovel snow from their tree branch, they fail to realize that Donald has moved them onto his sidewalk. Naturally, they finish the sidewalk and hit a fire hydrant before realizing they've been had. Donald laughs it off and retreats inside, satisfied that he no longer has to do work. Chip 'n' Dale, on the other hand, decide to get even. They see that Donald is going to make some popcorn, so the two sneak into his house while he gets some wood for his fireplace. Chip tries to eat a few kernels, but find that they are tough and inedible. In frustration, he kicks some towards the fire, where the heat pops them into the soft and delicious treat everyone knows and loves.

Realizing the wonderful new snack they can have, the two chipmunks jump into the box of kernels, which is promptly poured into the popping bowl. Donald settles down in his easy chair, grabbing a handful of popcorn, before realizing that Chip 'n' Dale have taken the bowl back to his tree. He steals the bowl back from them; for a minute, Chip thinks Dale ate it all. When the two see Donald walking away with an extra-tall winter cap, they find he has stacked the popcorn on atop his head. A quick glance at Chip angles Donald's head, dropping the popcorn into Dale's bowl. A chase soon ensues, followed by a game of keep-away, with the popcorn passed back and forth between the chipmunks.

Donald decides to smoke out the chipmunks from his tree, starting a fire. The two realize their great opportunity, and surrender the hatful of popcorn to Donald. As he walks away victorious, Chip 'n' Dale pour the entire box of kernels into their tree, where they pop all over Donald's yard. "Aw, nuts!" Donald mutters, as he begins shoveling away his popcorn-filled sidewalk.

Chip 'n' Dale in the short, Corn Chips

"Corn Chips" was Chip 'n' Dale's thirteenth appearance in the Disney shorts, with them appearing under the "Donald Duck" banner (only three of their shorts were under their name). Let's be honest, here. This short is pretty much the same as shorts like "Three for Breakfast," "Winter Storage," "Toy Tinkers," or "Donald Applecore." Donald does something to bother the chipmunks, they retaliate, and end up winning. Nothing new, nothing exciting, right? Actually, this short takes what could be another tired retread and gives it a couple new twists. The biggest difference, at least in my viewing, is that the short manages to tell multiple stories within its seven minutes. Usually the shorts only focus on one narrative, especially given their brevity. This one ends up with probably three, each one tied to the other.

The first story, and the one which frames the entire short, is that of Donald shoveling his walk. He notices Chip 'n' Dale are better at it, and cons them into shoveling his. Through the events of the other two stories, Donald is back where he started, showing that his mischief never gets him far. In the second story, Chip 'n' Dale discover popcorn, essentially adding to their growing list of food they take away from Donald. We get better gags with this story, including a memorable segment with them playing keep-away, along with Donald's uncanny ability to balance popcorn on his head. As they battle Donald for the food, we get to see the third story at play. This one is less direct than the other two, but shows the conflict between sizes.

Chip 'n' Dale in the short, Corn Chips

The third story is really a showcase for animators. Scale is something that sometimes is overlooked in Disney animated shorts, as by this point, they don't receive the same polish and attention as the theatrical films. But the animators really get creative with their limited time in the cartoon, to give us some shots that help juxtapose the difference between Donald and Chip 'n' Dale. There's a great moment when Donald is reaching into his bowl and we see it from the chipmunk's perspective. Donald's hand literally reaches towards the audience, and gets exponentially larger as he gets closer to the bowl. The skewed angle also makes such a shot seem more menacing than it really should.

Later on, when Chip 'n' Dale are gliding along the roof in the popcorn bowl, they pass by in close-up just as Donald is starting to chase them in the background. He remains small, they remain large, but he naturally catches up. The frenetic pacing of this shot literally makes them look like they are about to fly right off the screen; again, this is a great showcase of the animators' ability to "scale" a scene for dramatic effect. The two screen caps below don't do the scene justice at all, it's best experienced - like all animation - whizzing by you at twenty-four frames a second:

Chip 'n' Dale in the short, Corn Chips

"Corn Chips" is only available on two DVDs. It was first released in 2005's "Classic Cartoon Favorites: Volume 8, Holiday Celebration with Mickey & Pals," a compilation disc with seven shorts, including this one. Images from this week's Saturday Matinee are from that disc. The short was then digitally restored and included in 2008's "Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald, Volume Four," an extremely rare set that sold out quickly and, like all Treasures sets, is now out of print.

Corn Chips on DVD




Past Saturday Matinees

Mickey Mouse
     - The Band Concert (1935)
     - Birthday Party, The (1931)
     - Boat Builders (1938)
     - Brave Little Tailor (1938)
     - Building a Building (1933)
     - Clock Cleaners (1937)
     - Croissant De Triomphe (2013)
     - Get a Horse (2013)
     - Hawaiian Holiday (1937)
     - The Jazz Fool (1929)
     - Lonesome Ghosts (1937)

     - Mad Doctor, The (1933)
     - Magician Mickey (1937)
     - Mickey and the Goat Man (2002)
     - Mickey Down Under (1948)
     - Mickey's Delayed Date (1947)
     - Mickey's Steam Roller (1934)
     - Mickey's Trailer (1938)

     - No Service (2013)
     - Orphan's Benefit (1934 and 1941)
     - Shanghaied (1934)
     - Steamboat Willie (1928)
     - Steamboat Willie Revisited (1928)
     - Thru the Mirror (1936)
     - Ye Olden Days (1933)
     - Yodelberg (2013)

Donald Duck
     - Beezy Bear (1955)
     - Chips Ahoy! (1956)
     - Donald's Diary (1954)
     - Double Date Don (2001)
     - Grand CanyonScope (1954)
     - How to Have an Accident in the Home (1956)

     - Lighthouse Keeping (1946)
     - Modern Inventions (1937)
     - Mr. Duck Steps Out (1940)
     - No Hunting (1955)
     - Sea Salts (1949)

     - Goofy and Wilbur (1939)
     - Hello Aloha (1952)
     - A Knight for a Day (1946)

Chip 'n' Dale
     - Chips Ahoy! (1956)
     - Corn Chips (1951)
     - Out of Scale (1951)

Humphrey the Bear
     - Bearly Asleep (1955)
     - Beezy Bear (1955)
     - Hooked Bear (1956)
     - In the Bag (1956)

     - All Wet (1927)
     - The Fox Chase (1928)
     - The Mechanical Cow (1927)
     - The Ocean Hop (1927)
     - Ozzie of the Mounted (1928)
     - Trolley Troubles (1927)

Alice Comedies
     - Alice's Wonderland (1923)

     - Adventures in Music: Melody (1953)
     - All the Cats Join In (1946)
     - Ben and Me (1953)
     - Bueno Nacho (2002)
     - A Cowboy Needs a Horse (1956)
     - Daisy's Road Trip (1999)

     - Disneyland Showtime (1970)
     - Disney's Electric Holiday (2012)
     - Epcot Film (1966)
     - Evolution of the Dunk the Mayor scene (1965-2006)
     - Feast (2014)
     - Figaro and Cleo (1943)
     - The Flying Mouse (1934)
     - Football Now and Then (1953)
     - General Hospital - The Introduction of Lucky Spencer (1993)

     - Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (1964)
     - Grievance of a Starmaker (2002)
     - The Hardy Boys: The Stranger (1956)
     - John Henry (2000)
     - The Little Matchgirl (2006)
     - Max's New Car (2001)

     - Mickey and the Firefighter (1993/2002)
     - Muppet Mayhem: Baseball
     - Muppet Mayhem: Clapboard
     - Muppet Mayhem: Soap
    - My Heart Was an Island (1960)
     - Oliver and Company VHS Preview
     - Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Firing Lane (1942)

     - Paperman (2012)
     - Scrooge McDuck and Money (1967)
     - Seven Wise Dwarfs (1941)
     - Snow White World Premiere Newsreel (1937)
     - Tangled Ever After (2012)
     - Three Notable Disney Commercials (circa 1950s and 2002)
     - Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom (1953)
     - Tummy Trouble (1989)
     - Victory Through Rocket Power (1991)

     - War Shorts (1941-1945)
     - Welcome to the Future

Pixar Shorts
     - Geri's Game (1997)
     - Jack-Jack Attack (2005)
     - La Luna (2012)
     - Toy Story Treats (circa 1996)

Silly Symphonies
     - Father Noah's Ark (1933)
     - Music Land (1935)
     - Peculiar Penguins (1934)
     - The Skeleton Dance (1929)
     - Three Little Pigs (1933)
     - Tortoise and the Hare (1934)

     - 100th Week Retrospective
     - Animation Sequence Analysis: Beauty and the Beast
     - Animation Sequence Analysis: Robin Hood
     - Animation Sequence Analysis: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
     - Animation Sequence Analysis: Sword in the Stone

     - As the World Turns and Disney
     - Beauty and the Beast: A Look at three versions of the story
     - Beauty and the Beast: Theatrical Reviews Trailer
     - Beauty and the Beast TV Spots
     - Bedknobs and Broomsticks
     - Casablanca scene of The Great Movie Ride
     - Happy Holidays from Saturday Matinee!

     - Cinderella vs. Cinderella III
     - Colors of the Wind Multi-Language Reel
     - Comparing Three versions of Alice in Wonderland
     - Deleted Disney
     - Disney Classics: Timeless Classics
     - Disney Classics: Modern Classics
     - Disney Classics: Television Classics

     - Disney Family Movie Night - Summer in June
     - Disney Studio Album: 1960
     - Frozen Review
     - Golden Girls go to Walt Disney World
     - Golden Girls Pilot Episode
     - Great Movie Ride Week One: Mary Poppins

     - Great Movie Ride Week Two: Singin' In the Rain
     - Great Movie Ride Week Three: Raiders of the Lost Ark
     - Great Movie Ride Week Four: The Searchers
     - Great Movie Ride Week Five: Alien
     - Great Movie Ride Week Six: Footlight Parade

     - Great Movie Ride Week Seven: Wizard of Oz/Fantasia
     - Great Movie Ride Week Eight: Casablanca
     - Heffalumps and Woozles vs. Pink Elephants on Parade
     - "It" Moments
     - Life Comes to Fantasy
     - Lion King Bloopers and Stand by Me

     - Live Action Character References
     - Muppets through Films
     - The Newsies' Santa Fe
     - Peter Pan's deleted song, "Neverland"
     - Remembering Steve Jobs
     - Saving Mr. Banks Review
     - Sleeping Beauty Backgrounds

     - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' first trailer
     - Song Showcase: Three Essential songs in Pete's Dragon
     - Spaceship Earth video
     - Spot Marks the X (1986)
     - Special Song Showcase: Disney's Greatest Love Songs

     - Step in Time from Mary Poppins on Broadway
     - Thor: The Dark World Review
     - VHS Deluxe Collectors Sets for Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin
     - Walt's Sweetheart Team - Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten
     - The Watcher in the Woods
     - A Whole New World Recording Session

Winnie the Pooh
     - Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966)


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