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Walt Disney Treasures
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Walt Disney Treasures

On the Front Lines

(2001) DVD - 2 discs
32 short subjects made for the war effort.World War II transformed the Disney Studio. It spent the war years creating and producing training, propaganda, and educational films for the Armed Forces. This extraordinary volume includes the full-length feature "Victory Through Air Power," Donald Duck's Nazi nightmare "Der Fuehrer's Face" and a host of others - all considered among the best of Disney's work.

Walt Disney Treasures

On December 8, 1941, the Disney Studio was taken over by the military as part of the war effort. Making the most of the talent that hadn't shipped out yet, Walt Disney spent the next four years creating and producing training, propaganda, and educational films for the Armed Forces. In addition to these films, this extraordinary volume also includes the full-length feature "Victory Through Air Power." Released theatrically in 1943, this powerful propaganda film has never been reissued until now. You'll also see recently discovered on-the-set footage, and get rare firsthand accounts about the work and culture at the Disney Studio in interviews with Disney Legends Joe Grant, John Hench, and Roy Disney. Featuring exclusive introductions by film historian Leonard Maltin, this is a timeless collection from generations past for generations to come. World War II transformed the Disney Studio. Although nearly one-third of the artists had been drafted, production quintupled, up to 95% of it for military and government uses. Some of the films included in On the Front Lines have not been seen since their initial release; others were never shown to the general public. Anticipating the importance of animated training films, Disney produced the studio's first educational film, "Four Methods of Flush Riveting" (1941), using limited animation to train riveters at Lockheed. Decades later, "Four Methods" and the excerpts from military training films remain models of how to present information clearly and concisely.

Many of the wartime entertainment shorts are largely propaganda. Donald's nightmare of working on a Nazi assembly line in "Der Fuehrer's Face" is still hilarious slapstick. The grimmer "Education for Death" and "Chicken Little" have aged less gracefully. Disney's oddest wartime project was Victory Through Air Power (1943), a live action/animation feature based on Major Alex de Seversky's controversial book that called for the adoption of long-range bombers. By the time it was finished, air power was a reality.

Front Lines also includes several health films made for the Office of Inter-American Affairs, and bond-buying shorts for Canada that reuse animation from Snow White and "Three Little Pigs." This collection of genuine rarities is a must-have for anyone interested in the history of animation, the Disney Studio, or America during WWII. (Rated G, suitable for ages 10 and older: violence, ethnic stereotypes, tobacco use) --Charles Solomon

Product Features

  • On December 8, 1941, the Disney Studio was taken over by the military as part of the war effort. Making the most of the talent that hadn't shipped out yet, Walt Disney spent the next four years creating and producing training, propaganda, and educational films for the Armed Forces. In addition to these films, this extraordinary volume also includes the full-length feature "Victory Through Air Power."

    Disc One

  • Donald Gets Drafted
  • The Army Mascot
  • Private Pluto
  • Fall Out; Fall In
  • The Old Army Game
  • Home Defense
  • How to be a Sailor
  • Commando Duck
  • The Vanishing Private
  • Sky Trooper
  • Victory Vehicles
  • Der Fuehrer's Face (originally titled "Donald in Nutzi Land"
  • Education for Death
  • Reason and Emotion
  • Thrifty Pig
  • Seven Wise Dwarfs
  • Donald's Decision
  • All Together
  • The New Spirit
  • The Spirit of '43
  • Food Will Win the War
  • Out of the Frying Pan and into the Firing Line
  • The Grain that Built a Hemisphere
  • Defense Against Invasion
  • Cleanliness Brings Health
  • What is Disease?
  • Planning for Good Eating
  • Chicken Little and the Winged Scourge
  • Disc Two

  • Four Methods of Flush Riveting
  • Stop that Tank
  • Training Film Montage
  • Full-Length Feature: "Victory Through Air Power"
  • Bonus Materials

  • "Victory Through Air Power" Trailer
  • On the Set of "Victory through Air Power"
  • Production Art Galleries
  • "Victory Through Air Power" Art Galleries
  • "A Conversation with Roy Disney"
  • "A Conversation with Joe Grant"
  • "A Conversation with John Hench"

Animated cartoons and World War II...

World War II changed the possibilities for animation. Prior to the war, animation was seen as a form of childish entertainment. The attack on Pearl Harbor was a turning point in its utility.

On December 8, 1941, the US Army began working with Walt Disney at his studio, stationing Army personnel there for the duration of the war. The Army and Disney set about making various types of films for several different audiences. Most films meant for the public included some type of propaganda, while films for the troops included training and education about a given topic.

Films intended for the public were often meant to build morale. They allowed Americans to release their anger and frustration through ridicule and crude humor. Many films simply reflected the war culture and were pure entertainment. Others carried strong messages meant to arouse public involvement or set a public mood.

Animated cartoons allowed the government to spread their message in a much more entertaining manner, especially when it came to War Bond drives.

Related Scanning WWII links...

  • 27 Jul 40: Bugs Bunny makes his screen debut
  • 01 Jan 43: Disney releases "Der Fuehrer's Face"
  • 20 May 44: Merrie Melodies releases "Russian Rhapsody"

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