I’ve been very surprised at the rebound in quality of the Disney shorts during the latter half of 1948. I have been vocal about the dip that occurred with the 1947 shorts and the early 1948 shorts. With Three for Breakfast the good vibes continue, as we get an absolute classic featuring Chip and Dale at odds with Donald Duck. That is a recipe for greatness.
It’s a different Chip and Dale that we see in this short, as they are now in their final form. Recall that in previous shorts, the two were very similar to each other, without the distinguishing characteristics that you would recognize today. Here, though, we see Dale with his larger nose, colored red, and his sunken eyes. Chip, meanwhile, looks much the same, with alert eyes and little brown/black nose.
Donald, meanwhile, is less the focus of the short than the chipmunks. He is making pancakes which the two interlopers conspire to steal. Seeing Donald making pancakes just gave me a happy feeling. I can’t really explain why, but seeing that was something that appealed to the child in me. Could be my craving for pancakes, could be my affection for Donald, but that image just seemed right to me.
It’s Chip and Dale’s antics that steal the show in this one, however. They rig up an elaborate mechanism to steal the pancakes, firing a fork at the stack of pancakes then reeling them in one after the other. It takes Donald a little while to catch on, but when he does, the gags are fabulous. There’s lots of give and take between he and the chipmunks, which is exactly what you want in this kind of short.
The ultimate ending could be considered offensive, as both Donald and Dale don a Chinese hat and do a little stereotypical dance to some synthesized music. It’s not anything out of the ordinary for the time, but today seems a little out of place. It still doesn’t diminish the value of the short, though, as Three for Breakfast is one of the best examples of Donald Duck meeting Chip and Dale ever made.