Der Fuehrer's Face is a 1943 animated cartoon by the Walt Disney Studios, starring Donald Duck. It was directed by Jack Kinney and released on January 1, 1943, as an anti-Nazi propaganda movie for the American war effort. Originally called "Donald Duck in Nutzi Land," it was retitled when the theme song by Oliver Wallace became a Breakaway Pop Hit as performed by Spike Jones.
The short depicts Donald as an oppressed citizen of "Nutzi Land", The Theme Park Version of Nazi Germany where almost everything is shaped like a swastika or an allusion to Hitler. He soon finds himself forced to work 48 hours every day to produce shells for the Fuehrer's war effort. Eventually he goes mad from stress, only to wake up home in America, relieved that his previous experience was All Just a Dream.
The film won the 1943 Academy Award for Animated Short Film, and was the only Donald Duck cartoon to win an Oscar.
- Adolf Hitlarious: Hitler is mocked throughout the cartoon, concluding with his face getting pelted with an overripe tomato.
- All Just a Dream: When it looks like "Nutzi Land" just can't get any worse, Donald wakes up and finds himself in his American home, much to his relief.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: Donald's bread being so stale he has to cut it with with a handsaw is Played for Laughs, but due to wartime rationing in World War II, sawdust actually was put into bread to save on flour, due to limited resources.
- Assembly Line Fast-Forward: Donald works on an assembly line screwing the tops onto bombs, which gets progressively harder and faster. To make matters worse, photos of Hitler randomly appear on the line, which Donald must salute. He is eventually driven to madness when the line increases to double-time.
- Beyond the Impossible: One of the biggest indicators that "Nutzi Land" isn't even real is the 48-hour workday imposed on munitions personnel.
- Black Market Produce: As a citizen of Nazi Germany, Donald Duck's breakfast consists of wooden bread, aroma of bacon and eggs, and coffee from a single bean he keeps locked in a safe.
- Blowing a Raspberry: Does this after each "HEIL!"
- The BBC banned British artists from performing "Der Fuehrer's Face" live because they considered raspberry blowing obscene. The solution: kazoos.
- Body Horror: A rare Played for Laughs version: Donald's tail becoming a hand that salutes Hitler.
- Camp Gay: Just watch the Hermann-Göring-clone swing his hips when he sings about Aryan "super-duper Supermen!" (And those eyelashes...)
- Along with him getting repeatedly poked in the ass with a trombone slide.
- Curse Cut Short:
- Part of the song goes:Ven der Fuehrer yells, "I gotta have more shells!"
Ve "Heil! Heil!" For him, ve make more shells.
If one leetle shell should blow him right to— *CLANG!* (Donald bumps into a much bigger bomb)
Ve "Heil! Heil!" And vouldn't that be svell?"
- Part of the song goes:
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: To the values of Nazi Germany. Also, to the values of America at the time - seeing that an American icon, Donald Duck, is working for Der Fuehrer in Nazi Germany.
- Disney Acid Sequence: When Donald is driven to madness, he has one of these toward the end of the short.
- Driven to Madness: Donald, toward the end due to working overtime, which leads to the Disney Acid Sequence.
- Eagleland: When Donald wakes up, he is wearing pajamas with stars and stripes, his room is decorated in red, white, and blue, and he even has a small Statue of Liberty in the window. Donald kisses the statue in relief to realize that he lives in the USA. Definitely Flavor 1, though justified since of course this was a wartime propaganda cartoon.
- Facial Profiling: Just as offensive than the Nazi imagery (but garnering far less attention these days) is the briefly-seen caricature of the then-Japanese Emperor, Hirohito. This was standard in wartime cartoons, of course, and other cartoons from the same era contained even more of this sort of thing.
- Fascist, but Inefficient: Nutzi Land. The random portraits of Hitler (which must be saluted individually) and constant changing of the line does not make for a work environment in which much actually gets done. Many shells get past Donald with their tops unscrewed, and the amount only increases as Donald's workload gets more and more ridiculous.
- Foreign Cuss Word: One Nutzi calls Donald a "Schweinehund"note , what many Americans seem to think is the German equivalent of "son of a bitch", but actually a much milder (and more rarely employed) swearword that means "Pig-dog" when translated literally. He also calls him a "verdammte Esel", or a damned jackass.
- Hail to the Thief: The title song pays extremely mocking "respect" to Hitler.
- Hypocritical Humor: When the Japanese sousaphone player clarifies the question, "Is ve not the Supermen?" with an "Ahryan, pure-a Supamen?" This is a joke on how in Real Life, Hitler had styled the Japanese 'honorary Aryans'.
- I Ate WHAT?!: Germany's so poor that instead of bacon, eggs and toast for breakfast, Donald has to sustain himself with a perfume scented like bacon & eggs, and cutting a slice of bread - so stale it requires a saw - to chew on. On the other side of the spectrum, he has a single coffee bean to flavor his water with, but he doesn't get a chance to drink it in the cartoon.
- Donald having to saw the bread is actually a reference to the fact that, in those days, sawdust was put into the bread to save on using flour. If you look closely, the bread has nerves, like wood planks.
- Improvised Clothes: Donald's Nutzi uniform is made of paper.
- Iris Out: The film concludes with the iris closing on Donald, only to open again and reveal a caricature of Hitler for one last chorus of "Der Fuehrer's Face." Hitler's face then gets pasted with a ripe tomato, and the dripping juice spells out "The End".
- Literal Ass-Kicking: Donald gets his rear end kicked several times by various Nutzi jackboots.
- Nazi Protagonist: Donald. Thankfully, it turns out to be a dream.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Axis oompah band features Joseph Goebbels, Herman Göring, Hideki Tojo, and Benito Mussolini.
- No Swastikas: Inverted. EVERYTHING in this cartoon has a swastika on it, including a fire hydrant, a telephone pole, and one soldier's underwear.
- Hell, even the clouds and trees are shaped like swastikas.
- Donald's house is shaped exactly like Hitler's face, a pun on "lebensraum" or living space, which referred to Germany taking over and forcibly colonizing Europe.
- When Donald is given a "vacation", he is forced to do aerobics in the shape of the swastika.
- Averted in the ending, with Donald waking up from the nightmare and glad to find himself in the good old U.S.A.
- Patriotic Fervor: Presented as a bad thing for Nutzi land and a good thing for Eagleland.
- Poirot Speak: "Into the clothes get!"
- Produce Pelting: The film concludes, fittingly, with a caricature of Hitler's face being pelted by a ripe tomato. Its dripping remains spell out "The End."
- Public Domain Soundtrack: The opening credits quote Richard Wagner's "Meistersinger Overture," no doubt satirically as the Nazis admired Wagner's music.
- Putting on the Reich: The Axis oom-pah band, with Goebbels, Göring, Himmler, Hideki Tojo and Benito Mussolini.
- Ring Ring Crunch: Donald is woken by his alarm clock, which he angrily smashes.
- Russian Reversal: During the Disney Acid Sequence, an anthropomorphic shell appears banging on the heads of several Donalds as they go down an assembly line, instead of the other way around.
- Sigil Spam: Swastikas are everywhere in Nutzi Land.
- Sound-Effect Bleep: "When the Fuehrer yells, 'I gotta have more shells!' We Heil! Heil! For him we make more shells!
If one little shell, should blow him right to— *CLANG!*
- Stealth Pun: The last two "heil"s in the cartoon are followed by a tomato "hurl"ed at a picture of Hitler's face. The words "Heil" and "hurl" sound very similar to each other in the stereotypical New York City (particularly Brooklyn) accent at the time. note
- Take That!: The title "Der Fuehrer's Face" alludes to the omnipresence of Hitler portraits in Nutzi land, but also evokes "into your face!"
- The End: Spelled out by the drippings of a ripe tomato thrown at Hitler's face.
- Those Wacky Nazis: The butt of most of the humor, making the point that it sucks to be them.
- Villain Song: The introductory number performed by the Axis oompah band with Herman Göring, Joseph Goebbels, Hideaki Tojo, and Benito Mussolini. All together now: "Ve heil! Heil! Right in der Fuehrer's face!"
- "The Villain Sucks" Song: The title song gets reprised as one later in the cartoon. Also note that the Spike Jones's cover of the song only used the lyrics from the opening number praising Hitler, but Jones's ironic performance took it into Hail to the Thief territory instead of a straight-up Villain Song.
- Wartime Cartoon: An Academy Award-winning example.
- Wearing a Flag on Your Head: When Donald wakes up from his dream, he's wearing pajamas resembling the American flag.
- Yellow Peril: The focus is on the Nazis, but Emperor Hirohito and Hideki Tojo get brief cameos. They look exactly as you'd expect them to in a cartoon like this.