A scene from SEA SALTS, directed by Jack Hannah for RKO Radio Pictures.

Sea Salts (1949, Jack Hannah)

Sea Salts opens with a framing device, which doesn’t make much sense from a story point of view. Well, wait, maybe the frame is to show the viewer Donald Duck (as a sea captain) is a likable greedy, selfish jerk, not a dangerous one.

The protagonist is actually a beetle, one of Donald’s crew from a ship. The beetle, voiced by a wonderful Dink Trout, tells the story of their association and “friendship.”

While the beetle’s a fine narrator, Sea Salts‘s real star is the animation. Hannah and his animators take the pair through a somewhat predictable shipwreck and stranding narrative but the visuals are so strong (and Trout so affable) Salts is enthralling.

The only time where the approach (the beetle as the protagonist, Donald as the subject) is a problem is at the end… Donald’s ornery captain character never develops.

Still, it’s a lovely, beautifully crafted cartoon.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Jack Hannah; written by Bill Berg and Nick George; animated by Jack Boyd, Bob Carlson, Bill Justice and John Sibley; music by Oliver Wallace; produced by Walt Disney; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Clarence Nash (Donald Duck) and Dink Trout (‘Mac’ Bootle Beetle).

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