Shade #14: Donald’s Diary (1954)
Starring: Donald Duck and Daisy Duck
Costarring: Huey, Dewey and Louie
Setting: San Francisco, CA
Plot: Donald reflects on the twists and turns during his relationship with Daisy.
Box of Chocolates:
Donald’s narrative voice from his present self is inexplicably clear and articulate.
The hilly terrain along with China Town and, of course, both the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, make it clear that this story takes place in San Francisco.
Daisy’s appearance continues to evolve since her last appearance in Crazy Over Daisy (1950). She still has a fancy hair-do but it's no longer blonde, but the same flesh coloured feathers that cover her from head-to-toe.
Incidentally, this is also Daisy Duck’s last appearance during the era of classic Disney shorts.
Daisy has tried and failed to catch a husband at least thirteen other times as evident by all the carved hearts including her name on the backside of her and Donald’s tree.
Here, Huey, Dewey and Louie play the part of Daisy’s brothers.
We also meet Daisy’s parents. Her deaf mother is a dead ringer for James Whistlers “Arrangement in Gray and Black” while her father looks like he’s completely lost his marbles.
Daisy’s mother is seen reading up on Dunn and Bradstreet book of credit and risk management.
Donald is able to pay for Daisy’s engagement ring after a trip to Uncle Ray’s Pawn Shop.
Donald never actually proposes to or even marries Daisy. He falls asleep at Daisy's house (with the ring in tow) while waiting for her to get ready for their date. And, from this point forward until he awakens, we are privy to an elaborate dream sequence where Daisy emasculates him so that Donald takes this as a harbinger of things to come and runs right though the front door and out of Daisy's life for good.
The rows of sailor ducks sadly waving goodbye to Daisy at her wedding is both probably the single funniest and provocative moment from any classic Disney cartoon.
Not only did Daisy not want to go camping on her honeymoon but she also promised her brothers that they could tag-a-long.
Daisy is not impressed with her wedding ring.
Donald and Daisy’s hilltop “dream cottage” is nearly identical to that of his home from the series Quack Pack (1996).
Donald’s mother-in-law wastes no time in taking over the newlyweds’ home as she’s already there, listening to records before the happy husband could even carry his bride through the threshold.
Daisy’s “What’s the matter?” as Donald flees the kitchen in terror from his wife’s “morning after” appearance is also a great and funny scene.
Daisy greets Donald on his first day home after work by refusing him a kiss, taking his wallet, ruining dinner and having her family over for the aforementioned meal.
Donald’s version of “losing his identity” and being a “robot” is no different than what most 1950s housewives faced on a near daily basis. Why should it be so different when a man suffers the indignity of doing all the house chores???
Donald is driven so mad by his dream that he leaves Daisy and joins the French Foreign Legion where he becomes stationed at an isolated Saharan fort, presumably during the Algerian War of Independence.
Donald’s closing thoughts are among his most eloquent: “I was born when I kissed her and died when we parted… but I lived for a little while.”
Of course, you’ll notice that nearly all of Donald’s narration is in stark contrast to what is actually happening.
The Morning After:
It’s easy to see why this is one of my all-time favourite shorts and the best from our 14 Shades of Disney series. Its comedic depth and richness is unique for a Disney cartoon. I’m especially fond of its dark and cynical look at relationships and marriage while still maintaining its levity, humour and charm. Disney was growing up and that, perhaps, is also why their animated shorts division ended shortly thereafter in 1956. Because that’s what happens after you grow up – you die. Anyway, that’s what I love about Donald and Daisy – they’re real! They could never have done this same story with Mickey and Minnie. This is the same reason why Donald quietly took the baton from Mickey as Disney’s “leading man” in its later years. Mickey may be the face of Disney but Donald is the heart and soul of the company – and this short proves it!