It’s rare for one of the Disney shorts to surprise me, but Dude Duck managed to do it. Donald Duck as a fancy pants city slicker? That was not what I expected. Cyril from Mr. Toad as his adversary? Again, unexpected. The fact that there are fully formed humans in this short? That was the big one that truly blew me away.
Let me unpack those a bit for you, because Dude Duck has a lot to take in when viewing it for the first time. First of all, the set up is a dude ranch where a bus full of city folk come in to try and experience the life of a cowboy. In this short, it’s a bus full of women. Attractive women. Which causes the horse to go nuts. First of all, I have not seen humans mixed in with the animal characters ever before, at least not in the full form like we saw in Snow White or other films. Second, why do the attractive women appeal to a horse?
The horse is another issue. It looks like and, to some degree, sounds like Cyril from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. He even acts like Cyril in the way he disrespects Donald and tries to pull tricks on him. All the notes do not reference this horse as being Cyril, but it’s clearly taken from the same designs.
Then there’s the appearance of Donald in this one. If you’ve been following the blog, you have seen Donald evolve from a barnyard animal to a nature enthusiast. Instead of that now, we get to see a refined, calm and collected Donald appearing on the ranch. He is dapper in his riding suit, holding his head high and being cool in the face of adversity. He doesn’t lose his temper, except he does brandish a gun!
No, that is not Donald. But the whole of the short manages to be wildly entertaining. There’s absolutely no reason that should be the case. But Dude Duck manages to take all these disparate elements and make something that is funny and engaging. The plot is nothing new, it’s just Donald trying to do something and his adversary stopping him. But with all the characterizations I just described, it comes off as different, and it ends up being quite fun.