Thursday, February 18, 2016

Short Subject: Fire Chief (1940)

Donald lets the firehouse go up in smoke.

Not the most original gag to build a short on, but it works.  Mostly because Donald has his nephews to play off of as he tells them to step aside he’ll handle it and then makes the situation worse by starting the fire in the first place and then pumping gasoline on it among other things.  I love that the nephews have their usual troublemaker personalities on display too with pranking Donald by setting off the alarm in the opening of the short.

Watching this short and comparing it to some of the others I’ve already looked it the changing of the Disney animation style over time is really striking.  While the rubber hose animation style of the twenties and much of the thirties is gone, replaced by the more restrained use of squash and stretch instead, its influence it still present here.  From the way the fire truck’s ladder swings wide as the truck turns, to how full Donald's body becomes when he breathes in to blows into his horn.  Also things in the background like the telephone poles as the fire truck is moving, no proper perspective going on there.  Seeing that change over time is a reminder of just how much Disney was pushing the envelope for how animation was done back then.  And the growth and improvement of the animators is something I love watching for as I look back on the classic Disney cartoons. 

As to the short itself I like it.  There are some fun gags, the animation looks really good despite not being as subtle as later works and Donald and his nephews trying to act together and failing is nice to see since a lot of the other shorts have them at odds more often than not.

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