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Western Animation / The Trial of Donald Duck

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The Trial of Donald Duck is a 1948 Disney short, directed by Jack King, the last one to be directed by him.

Donald Duck is out having a picnic in a park, but it starts raining, so he takes refuge in the first shelter he spots: a fancy French restaurant, and brings his picnic food in with him, which the restaurant charges him for. Unable to pay the bill, the restaurant takes Donald to court.


  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Both Donald and, in the end, Pierre.
  • Courtroom Episode: Where much of the plot takes place.
  • Description Cut: The defense says that "with magnificent restraint, [Donald] voiced a timid protest." Cut to Donald throwing one of his trademark temper tantrums.
  • End of an Era: This was to be the last Disney cartoon directed by Jack King. Since 1944, he shared directorship of the cartoons with former storyman Jack Hannah. After this cartoon, almost all Donald cartoons from here on out would be directed by Hannah.
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  • Foreshadowing: Little does Donald know that as he is taken to his table in the restaurant, he is already in hot water as it has a five-dollar cover charge.
  • French Jerk: Pierre, the maître d'hôtel, who overcharges Donald for his own picnic food in the restaurant, then takes him to court for not being able to pay.
  • Haute Cuisine Is Weird: The waiter charges Donald $15note  for just a tiny drop of the restaurant's café noir.
  • How We Got Here: The cartoon starts with Donald on trial, with his attorney recounting the events that got him there.
  • Institutional Apparel: Invoked when the judge makes Donald choose his sentence, half closing the blinds on the court windows so that they cast stripes on Donald.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: What ultimately happens to Pierre after Donald chooses to serve his sentence working off his debt (see below).
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  • Loophole Abuse: What happens in the end. While Donald is technically washing dishes at the Café Chez Pierre to pay off his debt, he deliberately does it so badly that he smashes every plate, bowl, cup, and glass he gets his hands on, with every intention of doing so for ten days as the judge stipulated. An excellent way to get back at Pierre, who could do nothing but beg and sob since the law is now on Donald's side.
  • Metaphoric Metamorphosis: As the defense attorney says that Donald found Pierre to be "hard and cold" about his situation, Pierre is shown first as a granite statue, and then an ice sculpture.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The waiter may have won the case against Donald in the tribunal, but he is forced to bear with Donald "washing" his dishes for ten days as the judge stipulated.
  • Shockingly Expensive Bill: Donald's bill for his own picnic food comes out to a costly $35.99 note  , but Donald only has a nickel.
  • Supplication Pose: Donald gets on his knees as he begs Pierre not to make him pay for his own food. Later Pierre adopts the same pose as he begs Donald to stop washing (and breaking) his dishes.
  • Work Off the Debt: After being found guilty, Donald is to choose which form of sentence to go with, either paying a ten-dollar fine or spending the next ten days at the restaurant washing dishes. Donald chooses the latter option — and the trope becomes subverted, as he deliberately smashes most of the restaurant dishes after washing them.