The Spirit of ’43 (1943)
Article 6074 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Jack King
Featuring the voice of Clarence Nash
What it is; WWII Propaganda Piece
It’s payday for Donald Duck. Should he go out and spend his money, or should he save it for taxes?
The fantastic content in this short is not the presence of talking ducks; at this point of time the presence of talking animals is considered by me a tradition of the cartoon genre and not fantastic content per se. Rather, it’s because Donald is tempted by this cartoon’s equivalent of the devil/angel wrong path/right path concept; both the thrifty duck and big spending duck initially appear magically to lead or tempt Donald. It also took a little time for me to see why this cartoon appeared in my Banned Cartoons collection. The wartime setting had me expecting offensive stereotypes of Germans or Japanese, but none appear. It was only when my wife pointed out that the thrifty angel was Scottish that the stereotype alarm finally went off.
As for the cartoon itself, I am a bit in awe of what it was attempting to do, which was to try to make the paying of taxes appear to be a patriotic duty, using the war as its selling point. I do wonder how effective it was at its time; I certainly doubt that message would have any resonance today. Being a Disney cartoon, it is a well-mounted production, but I doubt it was very popular; it’s so focused on its message that it becomes rather tiresome, and Donald is really not given much to do. It’s best taken as a curio of its time.