Let's look at the animation in this cartoon. Ed Love takes care of the set-up with the bad guys animated in silhouette. He's makes things work in profile so they read clearly for the audience. If you watch closely, there's sloppy clean-up and assistant work on these characters. Since they're painted black, I'm sure that the studio didn't waste any of their best assistants on these scenes. Love's animation here is adequate, but he really isn't given much to work with.
Jack Hannah's Donald is very appealingly drawn and somewhat streamlined for the times. He doesn't go overboard with wrinkles in clothing, which is fairly common in '30's Disney, or lots of scalloping of Donald's feathers.
If you compare Hannah's scenes with Johnny Cannon's, which follow, you'll see what I mean. Cannon does some nice finger popping and rhythmic walking, but I find his drawings of Donald too busy. The detail detracts from the motion.
Hannah returns with some strong acting as Donald reacts to the radio's warnings about Friday the 13th. Then Hannah animates Donald crashing through a mirror and smashing into an applecart, after which he searches for his package. The applecart scene is just excellent. The action is well-staged and the acting that follows is marked by some great contrasts in timing.
Paul Allen's animation of Donald trying to get around the black cat is well-choreographed, but it isn't as strong as it would be a year later in Mr. Duck Steps Out.
One of the reasons I decided to do a mosaic of this cartoon was because it featured animation by Al Eugster. I had the pleasure of knowing Al and working with him when I was starting out. While I knew he worked on this cartoon, I wasn't sure which scenes he did. I should have looked more closely. The takes Donald does in scenes 50 and 54 are very similar to the takes Al used for Donald in Clock Cleaners. He also does some perspective animation of the background in scene 55, fairly rare at this point in the 1930's. Al's drawings of Donald resembles Jack Hannah's in their lack of extraneous detail and solid draftsmanship.
Don Towsley is another Disney animator who doesn't get mentioned much, but he was a key Duck man in the 1930's. His work here is very solid, though the re-use annoys me. His is the only sequence where Donald really interacts with another character in an extended way and he handles it well.
Dick Lundy's Donald looks like a throwback to an earlier design. Lundy was important in the development of the Duck's personality and later directed Donald Duck cartoons, but his work here on Donald is fairly basic. However, the scene where the cat wrestles with the bomb is a small classic of straight-ahead animation. It's ironic that the cat is as belligerent as Donald usually is; in this cartoon Donald is pretty sedate. It didn't occur to me until just now how out of character Donald is in this cartoon. That's another strike against the story.
The end of the cartoon is a duck's breakfast of different animators that depends more on gags than on acting. As I mentioned last entry, the end leaves a lot of story elements hanging and the gag isn't strong enough to compensate for that.
This isn't a classic by any means. If you compare it to the work coming out of other studios at the time, it is far more slickly done. However, the story construction and acting in this cartoon, especially coming after Snow White, is disappointing.