Film seriesMickey Mouse ScreenplayCarl Barks CountryUnited States
DirectorJack King Music directorOliver Wallace Duration LanguageEnglish
Release dateMay 29, 1937 (1937-05-29)
(USA) Similar moviesMickey Mouse movies, Related Jack King movies
Modern Inventions is a 1937 American animated short film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by United Artists. The cartoon follows Donald Duck as he tours the fictional Museum of Modern Marvels. It was directed by Jack King, his first project at the Disney studio, and features original music by Oliver Wallace. The voice cast includes Clarence Nash as Donald, Billy Bletcher as the Robot Butler, and Cliff Edwards as the Robot Barber.
Modern Inventions pokes fun at modern conveniences. The scene of Donald in the barber's chair was submitted by Carl Barks as his first story contribution at Disney.
Donald visits the "Museum of Modern Marvels" which showcases various futuristic electronic appliances and inventions. He uses a quarter on a line to get in (this allows him to keep his money and get in as well). Once inside, he is confronted with the "Robot Butler", a robot who takes hats ("Your hat, sir.") After Donald's hat is taken away from him, Donald uses a magic trick to produce another hat (similar to the way he produces flutes in The Band Concert). He says, "So!" and continues on his way. He first encounters a robotic hitch-hiker, which activates when he makes driving noises. However, when he laughs at it, it punches him in the face. Next he goes to the wrapping machine, which says "Do not touch" but Donald ignores the sign and hops on. When he pulls a lever, the machine proceeds to grab him in two robotic arms, put transparent wrapping paper around him, and put him in ribbons, like a package. He manages to break out by vigorously shaking, and continues exploring.
All the time, Donald has been losing hat after hat to the Robot Butler, making Donald angrier and angrier. Eventually, the Butler chases him through the museum to an automated baby carriage, which Donald hides inside. Donald is given a baby's hat to wear as is rocked as the song "Rock-a-bye Baby" is played. Donald then begins acting like a baby, sucking his feet, playing with toys offered to him and getting ticked under the chin, and having his feet counted "This Little Piggy went to market." Donald then begins whining about not getting his milk. The machine gets out a bottle of milk but it hits him in the face instead of going into his mouth, making Donald agitated. The machine begins torturing him with toys and more milk in the face, turning him over and pinning a diaper on his bottom and powdering it.
The Robot Butler is again attracted by Donald's laughing and yanks the baby hat off his head. Donald produces one last hat and goes to the one exhibit he's not yet seen: a self-operating hair makeup chair. Using his "cheat" coin, Donald pays to get his hair done. However, instead of giving him a haircut, it flips him over, removes his hat, and given his bottom a cut, wrapping his rear end in a towel, cutting off his tail feathers, cleaning his bill, coating his face with shoe polish, sifting through his bottom feathers, applying a wet towel to it, slapping his blackened face with a cloth, combing his bottom with a comb, making a gap through it, smoothing it out and finally, giving him a pig tail design. The Robot Butler appears and removes Donald's last hat, which causes Donald to enter an explosive rage.
Clarence Nash – Donald Duck (uncredited)
Billy Bletcher – Robot Butler (uncredited)
Cliff Edwards – Robot Barber Chair (uncredited)
May 29, 1937 – original release (theatrical)
1985 – "Cartoon Classics: The Continuing Adventures of Chip 'n' Dale Featuring Donald Duck" (VHS)