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Walt Disney Treasures - On the Front Lines

4.7 out of 5 stars 99 customer reviews

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(May 18, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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

Special Features

  • Only 250,000 sets issued
  • 32 short subjects made for the war effort
  • Introduction by Film Historian Leonard Maltin
  • Disc One: Shorts
  • 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, 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:
  • Shorts:
  • 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"

Product Details

  • Actors: Billy Bletcher, Clarence Nash, Alexander de Seversky, Art Baker, Billy Mitchell
  • Directors: Ben Sharpsteen, Bill Justice, Bill Roberts, Clyde Geronimi, Ford Beebe
  • Format: Animated, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    General Audience
  • Studio: Walt Disney Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 18, 2004
  • Run Time: 210 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000BWVAH
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,173 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Walt Disney Treasures - On the Front Lines" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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The years that the probable contents were released, as well as some info on the various works.
VICTORY THROUGH AIR POWER - This film was basically propaganda with some entertainment and some powerful animation. Mainly championed Major Seversky's 1942 book of the same title with the theory that long-range air power could defeat the WWII enemies. The scene of an American eagle attacking the Japanese octopus is very powerful, moving animation.
DONALD GETS DRAFTED-always enjoyed the idea of Donald reporting to the draft board in his sailor suit.
THE ARMY MASCOT-Pluto schemes to take over the job of a mascot goat, with hilarious results.
THE VANISHING PRIVATE-Donald goes crazy with invisible paint, leading to war with his sergeant Pete, with a perfect, funny ending.
SKY TROOPER-Donald wants to be a pilot, and his sergeant Pete gives him more than Donald bargained for.
DER FUEHRER'S FACE-the famous and infamous cartoon in which Donald dreams he is in Naziland where he is forced to work in a munitions plant.
EDUCATION FOR DEATH-very strong propaganda about Germany's totalitarian state which turns an innocent young boy into a robotic soldier.
PRIVATE PLUTO-Pluto has a war with the chipmunks in guarding the area.
FALL OUT - FALL IN-Donald experiences some of the trials of Army life, such as super-long hikes.
REASON AND EMOTION-entertainment and propaganda used in a story about reason and emotion working together for the war effort, enjoyable animation.
VICTORY VEHICLES-Goofy shows off alternate transportation due to the wartime rubber and gasoline shortage, settling on the pogo stick.
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I've been waiting eagerly for this collection, and for the most part, it didn't disappoint. But be warned--some of the most famous of these wartime shorts, such as "The Fuhrer's Face" and "Chicken Little" have an annoying Leonard Maltin intro tacked onto them, and you can't skip through them. I say annoying because Maltin insists on giving away story points and illustrating his simplistic remarks with clips from the cartoons you are about to see! It ruins the experience of seeing these cartoons as "new"--particularly relevent in this case because these films were designed to elicit a strong emotional response from an audience. Don't miss this collection, it's a real rarity, but unless you're the type who turns immediately to the last page of a whodunit, or who always uses cheat codes on video games, mute Maltin's comments and close your eyes when he comes on--at least, for the first time you watch these.
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In the early 1940s, when the United States joined a second World War against the forces of evil, it was important that all Americans did their part. Walt Disney was no exception, and he and his artists took on the task fearlessly! This significant entry into the Walt Disney Treasures Collection limited-edition DVD line compiles the Disney Studios' war-themed animated shorts from that era along with the feature film "Victory Through Air Power," which is accompanied by some great interviews, galleries, and training film samples and clips. Much of this brilliant material has gone unseen since the 1940s, making this set a "Must Have" for Disney and WWII buffs all over! Here's a run through of what you'll find in this Disney dream-come-true!

Disc 1

Propaganda and Entertainment Shorts:

This is the first of three sections into which the shorts of disc one are divided. Each section is kicked off with a nice intro by film critic and historian Leonard Maltin, whom we can thank for this wonderful Disney Treasures DVD series. Leonard puts each group of films into proper historical context for the viewers, hands out viewer warnings when necessary, and often gives nice details about individual films. Leonard also provides an introduction to both discs in each Disney Treasures 2-disc collection.

"Donald Gets Drafted" (1942) - In our first short, one of the funniest in this group, Donald gets a first hand lesson in what it's really like to join the army. The short begins with Donald, draft card in hand and dreams of flying military aircrafts in his head, getting jazzed up on the idea of being a soldier from the alluring advertisements on the sidewalk. Many feature 1940's style pinup girls fawning over the new recruits, and who could resist that?
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A very good and interesting mix of Disney's WW2 vinettes undelibley marred by the corny introductions of film critic Leonard Maltin.

Commentaries are as common on DVDs as raisnettes in movie theaters, but wisely, they are usually an option to turn on or off at the viewer's pleasure. Not so here. Maltin's bit is part of each chapter. Yes, you can FF over it, but why should I need to?
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To be certain, there will be those who attempt to tear apart these shorts based on current cultural standards, but that isn't fair at all. This collection of short cartoons was made at the height of World War II, at a time where Hollywood actually supported the war effort, and made efforts to educate the public and spark them to action. Things like Donald Duck joining the army, Pluto acting as a mascot, Goofy teaching about "alternative" transportation and the Three Little Pigs and Seven Dwarfs stumping war bonds were not only commonplace, but necessary.
Plus, some of these shorts are just plain FUNNY. "Commando Duck" may have some unflattering portrayals of Japanese soldiers, but the slapstick comedy is some of Donald Duck's best. "Der Fuehrer's Face" is a masterpiece, and a lot of the Donald shorts in this collection were written (or co-written) by the legendary Donald Duck comic book artist Carl Barks, adding another tidbit of historical significance to this collection.
Perhaps the centerpiece of this collection comes on disc two, with the full-length "Victory Through Air Power," in which Walt Disney and a Russian expatriate explain that the only way to win World War II was to build up America's Air Force, a message that did not go unheeded by Churchhill and Roosevelt. People don't even know about this film, but it's one of the most important movies ever made.
This set is entertaining and fascinating from a cultural standpoint, and on top of that, Leonard Maltin's commentaries are probably the best he's done yet for a "Treasures" collection. No animation fan can go without this set.
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