Day 19: Grin and Bear It (1954)
Starring: Donald Duck and Humphrey the Bear
Costarring: Ranger J. Audubon Woodlore
Setting: Brownstone National Park
Plot: Donald’s refusal to share his lunch with Humphrey, sets the manic bear off.
Humphrey was a later addition to the classic shorts’ roster of characters and the last of seven to be given their own title card (Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Chip ‘N’ Dale and Figaro).
Humphrey would also go on to make appearances in Chip n’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers (1988 – 1990) as well as Goof Troop (1992 – 1993).
This episode marks ranger Woodlore’s first appearance as he would often play the foil to Humphrey.
If Ranger Woodlore’s voice sound familiar that’s because he’s a well-known voice actor known for such roles as MGM’s Droopy the Dog, The White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Mr. Smee from Peter Pan (1953).
The name “J. Audobon Woodlore” is in reference to James John Audubon, the famous 19th Century ornithologist/naturalist/painter.
This short features many human characters posing as extras which is an uncommon occurrence in the classic shorts.
“Don’t Molest the Bears”… I’m guessing “molest” had a different connotation in 1954.
If Humphrey gets caught stealing the tourists’ food again, Ranger Woodlore threatens to make him into a bear rug.
The bears are meant to engage in various activities with the tourists such as a game of cards, dancing and checkers
Sitting by the Campfire
Here, Donald gets that rare opportunity to play the straight man (similar to his role in Hook, Lion and Sinker) while Humphrey is forced to do most of the comedic heavy lifting. Donald actually flourishes in this role though as his “What’s the matter with this guy?” reaction to Humphrey eating the hot peppers hits that perfect note of aloof condescension. Humphrey is great too as his wild eyes and goofy grin perfectly capture the mania and desperation that drive his actions. These two aren’t destined to be foes though as they would eventually join forces to thwart the corrupt and opportunistic Ranger Woodlore in a perfect and nuanced ending to these normally formulaic “This Guy vs. That Guy” plotlines.