Tuesday, May 18, 2010

066 Donald's Cousin Gus

Title: Donald's Cousin Gus
Studio: Disney
Date: 5/19/39
Credits: None listed on print
Series: Donald Duck
Running time (of viewed version): 7:32

Synopsis: Donald's cousin Gus comes by and eats and eats and eats and cannot be gotten rid of.

Comments: A big fat idiot cartoon. Big fat idiot cartoons generally suck, and this is no exception. Gus is incapable of speech. One would normally expect him, in the context of speaking-Donald, to be on the menu, or at best a companion animal like Pluto. However, he is a tool user, so apparently that's the test for sentience (or perhaps citizenship) in the Disney universe, not speech. The pea sucking scene is good. Donald keeps joke hot dogs to get rid of guests, but he seems to simply discover them (and reads the tag aloud like a '60s Lantz cartoon) instead of knowing they were there. There's a bit when Gus is eating a spaghetti sock that sounds like Donald is saying "Clever, these Chinese". The captions claim it's "Clever, this child is". However, a Google search for "clever, these chinese" comes up with almost 30,000 hits (earliest on the first page was the title of a story in 1925), as opposed to the clean Yoda version, which only came up with 3 hits, none stand-alone. And there was a 1939 Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer song called "Darn Clever These Chinese" (tho it wasn't copyrighted until December, so they probably just share a common source in the preexisting saying). The fictional subtitles probably helped to allow the cartoon to pass without too much interference. If taken literally of course, it means either Donald or part of his family is Chinese... The incessant goopy music is irritating in many of the Disney films of the time, including this one.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. The subtitles on the Chronological Donald DVDs—especially Vol 1—are never good at guessing what Donald is saying. "Merrily we roll along" becomes "Now we gently roll our dog." "I've never been so mortified in all my life" becomes "Enough of this, I'm ready to fight to get my hat."

    [Repost: fixed a typo.]

  3. "Clever, these Chinese" would be referring to Gus's use of knitting pins as chopsticks.

    The Hockey Champ is in my childhood memories too, I wonder why that is. I remember Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur too, for its strictly un-dinosaur-like dinosaur.

  4. Director Jack Kinney said in a letter once: This was supposed to be a series, but then then it was determined that "gluttony isn't funny" which made an end to that. Read who did what here.

  5. Can you explain to me why big fat idiot cartoons generally suck? I don't understand. And why that cartoon is a part of overall Disney's worst of the year?

  6. It's subjective. I generally find cartoons/humor about fairly pure idiots to be concertedly unfunny, and big fat idiots tend to be pure idiots. Again, this is subjective, as a bunch of decision makers found pure big fat idiots to be something they wanted in their cartoons. And note that I find Disney's output on the whole to be the worst studio for the year; this doesn't mean I dislike every cartoon (although I dislike this cartoon as it is based on a pure idiot, and doesn't rise above it). There are several '39 Disney cartoons that I like more better than some cartoons from other studios in '39, but on the whole they are more boring and unfunny and long and drawn out than any other studio for the year.

  7. I have a "Funny Factory" Donald compilation DVD that we got at a Tommy K video liquidation at least ten years ago. The subtitles, which have some errors but, from what I recall, not too many, do say "Clever, these Chinese" on that version.