Ducknazi

The Lost Art of the Anniversary Special, Featuring Nazi Donald Duck

I know that the readers of Scratchbomb are students of genuine American folklore. Therefore, this will be of interest you: A Donald Duck 50th Anniversary special from 1984.

Back in those days, television loved to pay tribute to beloved pop culture figures via one-hour programs, during which the figure in question was feted by whatever random celebrities could be assembled. The pinnacle of this art was, of course, the Looney Tunes 50th Anniversary Special. Produced by Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video, it remains one of the most amazing things humans have made. This was just one example; in the mid-80s, it seemed every three months brought another such tribute to the airwaves.

People tuned in by the millions to watch these shows because back then, if you wanted to catch a “highlight reel” for I Love Lucy or The Honeymooners, this was your only recourse. Nowadays, if you want to see someone’s greatest moments, you can search for them on YouTube and you don’t have to pay Cher or Jeff Goldblum to punch up the proceedings.

However, back in 1984, the heyday of such programming, a special about Donald Duck all but demanded to be MC’ed and narrated by Dick Van Dyke, who also has some split animation/live action bits with the guest of honor. As in other such specials of its time, Donald is further celebrated by testimonials from a polyglot selection of stars seemingly picked out of a hat: Donna Summer, John Ritter, Kenny Rogers, Henry Winkler, and Andy Warhol, who is seen sketching out his own illustrated salute.

andy warhol + donald duckThe special also contains an enormous amount of old cartoon footage that is, I’m sure, locked up in a vault somewhere along with Walt’s frozen head, never to be seen again. For instance, a cartoon meant to promote postwar “understanding” between America and its neighbors to the south, with that understanding achieved by drinking cachaça and dive bombing bikini-clad girls on a beach with some kind of magic carpet. But that pales in comparison to a war-time short wherein Donald has a nightmare he lives in Nazi Germany and has to assemble bombs all day to the tune of Spike Jones’ “In Der Fuhrer’s Face.” So if you ever wondered what Donald Duck covered in swastikas would look like, wonder no more.

As with my Halloween presentation, the Donald Duck special is presented here with commercials included, intended to be viewed as one would have viewed it back when it was aired. (Source tape comes from a rebroadcast in 1985.) Again, the quality is not fantastic, but some sacrifices are needed to bring you Nazi Donald Duck.