We wrap up 1950 on the blog today with yet another Donald Duck and Chip and Dale short, Out on a Limb. As Donald’s short series has progressed, he has become more and more tied with the little chipmunks, which has both good and bad points. On the good side, the two are natural foils, because Donald can be mean yet face good adversaries, but on the bad side, it seems that Disney does not have a great originality present in these shorts.
In Out on a Limb, there is at least some variation on the formula. The typical Donald vs. the chipmunks short involves Chip and Dale trying to steal something of Donald’s or being interrupted when trying to store their food. This one is the latter, but whereas the normal shorts would have Chip and Dale antagonize Donald and generally outsmart him, Donald has the upper hand throughout most of this short. He takes an aggressive stance towards the chipmunks and basically chases them down throughout the entirety.
The set up is that Donald is pruning a tree in what I presume is his yard, cutting the limbs and painting them over with tar so they don’t grow again. It’s an odd thing to see Donald gardening, but it makes for some fun ideas. We get to see the chipmunks battling the tar and getting stuck, which is a classic gag, but still pretty fun. It’s not until Donald’s extended pruning shears get involved, though, that we see the true craziness get started.
If you’ve never seen these tools before, the shears are up on a pole and look a lot like a bird, which the animation team plays with brilliantly. Donald’s shears have an almost supernatural ability to track the chipmunks through the branches of the tree, and do so mercilessly. This is exactly what Donald is best at – being mean to his antagonist, showing a mischievous streak a mile long and therefore earning his comeuppance at the end of the short.
The shears section is the best part of the film, and it makes the climax a little less exciting. The ever growing tree that Donald is trying to prune eventually gets mowed by a lawn mower driven by the duck. That leads to some crazy bits of Donald getting electrocuted and then tarred and feathered, with leaves from the tree substituting for the feathers. As Donald’s comeuppance beats go, it’s not the most compelling one, but works okay for this short. The big miss in this one is that Chip and Dale don’t really have a lot of direct involvement in it, but are instead mainly jumping out of the way. That makes them a little less compelling, but after so many shorts, that’s to be expected.