A Donald Duck classic, most notable for being the first Donald story created by his celebrated collaborator Carl Barks. It was directed by the inimitable Jack Hanna, and released theatrically December 10, 1937 - the last short released before Disney's watershed feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Our hapless hero stars as the stationmaster of a barren train station in the town of Wahoo. His everyday routine is interrupted, however, by the arrival of a box containining an ostrich (what did you expect?). The accompanying note reads "My name is Hortense. Please make sure I am fed and watered. PS I eat anything." Donald, unimpressed by this new arrival, proceeds to go about his business, but Hortense is surprisingly affectionate (earning even more of Donald's wrath.)
Temporarily incapacitating Donald, Hortense proceeds to stand and deliver by eating everything she can: an accordion, some balloons, and an alarm clock (all of these conveniently providing some great visual gags when swallowed.) All of this proceeds to give Hortense a case of the hiccups, and Donald applies the only cure he knows - a shocking tuba blast. This proves ineffective (but hilariously violent) and Hortense adds to her meal by eating Donald's radio.
The rest of the show involves an extended joke of Hortense changing radio stations and our two stars acting out the events being broadcast: a police procedural, a soap opera, a boxing match, and finally, a climactic car race. The inevitable crescendo of destruction does cure Hortense's hiccups - but, in an inevitable case of futility, Donald manages to catch a case himself!
Odds and Ends
- This is the first official Donald Duck cartoon (the ones featuring the iconic opening title shot of Donald's smiling face.) He had been the principal character in 3 Mickey Mouse shorts before.
- This short provides at least one surreal postmodern glimpse into the world in which Donald resides: at one point while spinning the radio dial, Donald overhears a cook promoting her recipe for "roast duck!" (To which Donald replies "over my dead body" while spinning the dial once more.)
- Hortense's only speaking part - her hiccups - are provided by Pinto Colvig. Colvig, of course, is more famous for his role as Goofy. You can also hear longtime voice actor Billy Bletcher (the original Pete, among many others) providing most of the radio narration.