Our CinemaScope Special series comes to an end as I review the two final cartoons. There's no need to pull numbers out of the hats, as I'll be covering #3 "No Hunting" and #9 "How to Have an Accident in the Home", both of which feature Donald Duck in some not-so-safe situations. It's actually not-safe-enough that "No Hunting" is featured in the "From the Vault" section of the DVD it resides in! I initially assumed that "How to Have..." also would be in that section, but I mistook it for "How to Have an Accident at Work", the second and last in the short-lived series. Either way, both these cartoons represent Donald in dangerous situations.
In "No Hunting," we see how Donald's become tame compared to his frontier ancestors. One of his forefathers decides to remedy this, and he convinces Donald to go out for hunting season. Donald arrives in the forest, only to get in line behind long lines of fellow hunters, large encampments of hunters, and in a slightly-fitting-if-ironic cameo, Bambi and his mother at a stream. The hunters all wait with bated breath for the official beginning of the season, 6 am. Once the sun comes up, it is a flurry of gunfire and smoke, turning the once prosperous forest into a desolate wasteland and veritable warzone. Donald and the spirit of his hunting forefather try to make it through the season, but with no luck. In the end, the only thing they catch is a tamed farm cow.
"How to Have an Accident in the Home" introduces us to J.J. Fate, a dwarfish little spirit who's annoyed that all accidents are blamed on him rather than on people's own shortsightedness. To provide an example, he takes us to the home of Donald Duck. There, he shows us how many accidents in the home are due to carelessness rather than Fate. Among some of the accidents featured are standing on a rocking chair to hang a picture, toys strewn across the stairs, slipping on a loose throw rug (seen with the benefit of slow motion!), and a grand and intricate pattern of electrical plugs all in one socket. And if anyone remembers the Whirling Dervish Washer guy from "Football: Now and Then", he makes a quick cameo here. All these accidents in the home is too much for Donald, who accident-proofs his home and then decides to go to work, where it is safe. And Donald's workplace? A dynamite company!
The two cartoons here both have violence at the forefront, and "No Hunting" is sometimes uncomfortable to watch at times. It both glorifies and criticizes the hunting season, with motifs and scenes that compare it to war. Also, I'm a bit surprised that during hunting season, nobody was hunting Donald! Then again, maybe it wasn't duck season for this particular hunting period. Just last week, Humphrey was the object of the hunting season, so it must be bear season, hehehe. Donald's complete lack of skills also seems to be conflicting with a couple of his earlier shorts (like "Polar Trappers"), in which he is somewhat adept at hunting. I doubt they had such continuity issues in mind, and it's more about the humor behind the concept.
"How to Have an Accident in the Home" seems to be more suited for Goofy, as he was always the go-to character for "How to" situations. After all, Goofy was always the clumsy one, and by 1956, Goofy already had ten "How to..." shorts under his belt. Surely any accidents would surely happen to him. The difference, though, is that Goofy would simply be too accepting of any accident he has. With Donald's temper, putting him in accidental situations would make for funner outcomes. Imagine Goofy carrying a barrel and falling down the stairs with it. He'd be terrified, for sure, but the "Oh gosh, don't let this happen to me!" feeling isn't as apparent as it is when such an accident happens to Donald.
Both shorts underutilize their CinemaScope production values, which is rather disappointing when we get to "How to Have an Accident in the Home," the last Scope short. None of the shots stand out as benefitting of the format. Even watching a pan-and-scan version on YouTube could be mistaken for Academy if you didn't know it was Scope. Donald's follow-up "How to..." short (set in the workplace) was not in CinemaScope, but in the regular Academy Ratio, perhaps showing how ineffective the Scope format eventually was for 6-minute gag-heavy cartoons.
Both cartoons are only available on DVD in "Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald, Volume Four". And as always, you can also check it out on a website that rhymes with ZooChoob, MooStoob, NewReub, BlueFood, and LouCrood.