196. Duck Pimples – Jack Kinney

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SUMMARY: While listening to a series of terrifying radio dramas about murder and intrigue, Donald Duck’s imagination manages to conjure up a film noir scenario in his own front room.

WHY IT’S HERE: ‘Duck Pimples’ is one of the most remarkable Donald Duck cartoons Disney ever produced. Beginning with Donald scaring himself silly with a series of radio shows, the short then enters extremely surreal territory as an intimidating book salesman leaves a pile of mystery books in Donald’s house (prior to disappearing into thin air) and Donald imagines a whole crime thriller plot right before his eyes, complete with an aggressive Irish cop, am opportunistic femme fatale and a set of missing jewels. One of the elements of ‘Duck Pimples’ that has fascinated many is the fact that Donald, so forceful and vivid a character, is apparently side-lined by the other goings-on in the cartoon. He appears to be a punching-bag for the stereotypical film noir players. However, I would argue that, far from side-lining Donald, ‘Duck Pimples’ is entirely about him, given that everything and everyone in the whole film seems to be a product of his overactive imagination. Just as Donald’s temper is an uncontrollable beast in many cartoons, so his vulnerable side is just as extreme, with the merest of suggestions triggering an entire murder-mystery scenario in his brain, so vivid that it manifests itself before our (and his) very eyes. ‘Duck Pimples’ carefully ensures that nothing is completely certain, so that maybe this whole thing really did occur outside of Donald’s tightly-wound brain, and that makes it as troubling as it is funny. Whatever you make of this unique little short, it’s truly a one off and it expands greatly upon the complex character that is Donald Duck.

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