During World War II, Walt Disney threw the resources of his studio behind the war effort.The result is what we see here: a massive collection of animated shorts serving to boost morale,educate and propagandize, plus a feature-length argument for long-range bombing. I’m assumingI know have your attention.
Disc 1 breaks its short features down into three categories: “Propaganda and EntertainmentShorts,” “Educational Shorts” and “From the Vault.” The familiar Disney ch…racter turn upthroughout the collection. So Donald Duck wants to be a fighter pilot, the whole gang parades infront of the House of Parliament in Ottawa to promote the purchase of war bonds, and (in one ofthe short features in the “Vault”) Donald dreams he is living under the Nazi regime. There arealso such deadly serious shorts as “Education for Death,” which shows a young boy’sindoctrination by the Nazis. Grim stuff indeed. Altogether, there are 29 shorts here.
Disc 2 features three training shorts, and a montage of scenes from a raft of others. LeonardMaltin narrates the montage. Of particular note is that a number of these pieces haven’t neverbeen seen widely, as they have only recently been declassified. Here too is the 70-minute featureVictory Through Air Power, a fascinating and still powerful propaganda piece that movesthrough the history of flight to an argument for the construction of long-range bombers and theestablishment of the Air Force as a military entity in its own right.
The sound is the original mono, and anything else would have been inappropriate for acollection of this kind, with enormous historical interest. The sound quality varies from short toshort, but for the most part distortion, gurgles and background hiss are either minimal or non-existent. Seversky’s dialogue in Victory Through Air Power is plagued by a fair bit ofstatic.
The picture seems to have been cleaned up. In any event, many of the features look muchbetter than they do in the brief clips that accompany Maltin’s introductions. The colours arestrong, and the flicker is very slight. Some features (such as “Victory Vehicles”) are noticeablygrainy, but most of them look remarkably good. The live action scenes of Victory ThroughAir Power aren’t quite as good as the animated ones, in that the colour fluctuates quitenoticeably.
Leonard Maltin is all over the place as our host. He introduces (in his inimitably perky way)both discs, each major category of short, all of the Vault shorts, and Victory Through AirPower. He also sets up the silent footage from the set of Victory Through Air Power,and conducts the interviews Disney veterans John Hench, Joe Grant and Roy Disney. Theinterviewees recall life at the studio during the war, and the talks are supplemented byappropriate footage. All of these extras are on Disc 2, along with the trailer for VictoryThrough Air Power and seven still galleries, each looking at a different aspect of the studio’swar-oriented product. The menus have very elaborate introductions and automatically trigger theinitial Maltin clips. Once the preliminary business is over, the screens are scored and notanimated, so navigation becomes rapid.
Enormously fascinating, this is one of the most striking collections to come down the pike inages. Lovingly packaged, this set will reward hours of study.
Special Features List
- Leonard Maltin Introductions
- Theatrical Trailer
- 7 Art Galleries
- Interviews with John Hench, Joe Grant and Roy Disney