"The New Spirit"

Rod Davidek rdavidek at idirect.com
Fri Feb 2 13:37:04 CET 2001

Ola Martinsson wrote:

>I know that there also was another film that had to do with taxes made
>with Donald. I think it's called The new spirit. Was this one also made
>during the war?

"The New Spirit" was actually an earlier version of "The Spirit of '43".

Here's a brief history of the two shorts: 

"In December 1942, the U.S. Treasury Department asked Walt Disney (as part
of the war effort) to make a cartoon short that would encourage Americans
to pay their income taxes on time. Since they wanted the short in theatres
by February, Walt and his animators worked eighteen-hour days to put it

Walt then flew to Washington to show the storyboards to Treasury Secretary
Henry Morgenthau, who was less than enthusiastic to learn that Mr. Average
Taxpayer was to be played by Donald Duck, but he reluctantly agreed.

The Treasury Department ordered 1100 prints of the cartoon to saturate U.S.
theatres before the tax deadline, which in those days was March 15. The
cost of creating so many Technicolor copies inflated Disney's costs from
the agreed-upon $43,000 to $80,000. Walt was accused by some of being a war
profiteer, which was especially unfair because he lost money during this
episode --  theatres used the "free" cartoon to replace the Donald Duck
short that they otherwise would have shown and paid for.

However, the cartoon was so successful (a Gallup Poll indicated that it had
directly affected the willingness of 37 percent of U.S. taxpayers to pay
their taxes on time) that the Treasury Department gave Disney another
$20,000 to rework and expand "The New Spirit". The result was called "The
Spirit of '43" and featured a segment where Donald is torn between two
alter egos: a zoot-suited spendthrift and a thrifty Scotsman who looks and
acts a lot like Uncle $crooge.

Considering that it was rushed to production, that it was pieced together
in a somewhat slapdash way, and that the subject matter is dated, "The
Spirit of '43" is actually very entertaining."

                                - Rod -

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