Up 604 this week

The Ugly Duckling (1931)

Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.2/10 from 505 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 1 critic

A black duckling is rejected by its mother, a hen, but manages to prove his worth when a tornado threatens the hen's chicks.


0Check in

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 1661 titles
created 15 Mar 2012
a list of 26 titles
created 19 May 2012
a list of 249 titles
created 26 Nov 2012
a list of 75 titles
created 9 months ago
a list of 203 titles
created 4 months ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: The Ugly Duckling (1931)

The Ugly Duckling (1931) on IMDb 7.2/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Ugly Duckling.
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Animation | Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Max Hare and Toby Tortoise are having a foot race. Max has much more style, and is generally cocky. He pauses for a short nap, to chat up the bunnies outside a girl's school (and show off ... See full summary »

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Stars: Eddie Holden, Ned Norton
Plane Crazy (1928)
Animation | Family | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Inspired by Lindbergh's Flight from New York to Paris, Mickey builds a plane to take Minnie for a trip with some necking, but Minnie objects the necking.

Directors: Walt Disney, Ub Iwerks
Stars: Walt Disney
Family | Comedy | Animation
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

As in the classic fable, the grasshopper plays his fiddle and lives for the moment, while the industrious ants squirrel away massive amounts of food for the winter. With his song, he's able... See full summary »

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Stars: Pinto Colvig
Animation | Family | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The clock strikes midnight, the bats fly from the belfry, a dog howls at the full moon, and two black cats fight in the cemetery: a perfect time for four skeletons to come out and dance a bit.

Director: Walt Disney
Animation | Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Two penguins woo.

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Family | Animation | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

When a giant threatens the land, the city folk mistake Mickey's boast of killing seven flies with one blow to be giants. He is then forced to fight the giant for real.

Director: Bill Roberts
Stars: Walt Disney, Marcellite Garner, Eddie Holden
Family | Animation | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Two Dutch children stumble on a clearing in the woods where gnomes are going about their business. The gnomes are friendly to the children. A witch comes and takes them away on her broom to... See full summary »

Director: Burt Gillett
Animation | Comedy | Family
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The two foolish little pigs escort Red Riding Hood on a short cut through the woods, against the advice of their bricklayer brother. When they encounter the wolf, Red runs ahead to granny's... See full summary »

Director: Burt Gillett
Stars: Sara Berner, Billy Bletcher, Pinto Colvig
Family | Musical | Animation
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

We see bunny rabbits preparing for Easter, by making chocolate eggs and rabbits, decorating eggs, and weaving and filling baskets.

Director: Wilfred Jackson
Stars: Florence Gill
Family | Horror | Animation
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

In a small town, a brewing romantic rivalry with a local tough and a school-teacher culminates in a terrifying ride in the night.

Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kinney
Stars: Bing Crosby, Pinto Colvig, The Rhythmaires
Animation | Family | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Mickey Mouse, piloting a steamboat, delights his passenger, Minnie, by making musical instruments out of the menagerie on deck.

Directors: Ub Iwerks, Walt Disney
Stars: Walt Disney
Family | Comedy | Animation
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Noah, his family (wife, 3 sons, their wives), and various animals all help build the ark. The rains come, and the skunks barely miss the boat (not that anyone was particularly looking for ... See full summary »

Director: Wilfred Jackson


Credited cast:
Florence Gill ...
Mother Hen (voice)


A black duckling is rejected by its mother, a hen, but manages to prove his worth when a tornado threatens the hen's chicks.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

hen | tornado | duckling | chick | duck | See All (45) »






Release Date:

16 December 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le vilain petit canard  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The only Silly Symphony cartoon to be remade. (see Ugly Duckling (1939)) See more »


Version of Ugly Duckling (1939) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A primitive cartoon with a progressive message
5 August 2004 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

During the ten-year period that the Disney animators produced their delightful Silly Symphony series there was only one story they chose to dramatize twice, Hans Christian Andersen's "The Ugly Duckling." The studio released two quite different versions of the story in 1931 and 1939, at the beginning of the series' history and at the end. The later adaptation displays all the sophisticated techniques the crew had developed during that eventful era: it's in glorious Technicolor, the draftsmanship and character animation are superb, and the storytelling is clear, concise, and funny. And yet there's something to be said for the comparatively primitive black & white version of 1931. For one thing, and whatever the animators' intentions may have been, it appears to be a deliberate condemnation of racial prejudice in parable form.

That might sound like a stretch, but the evidence is there, first in the design of the characters and second in their behavior. We first see a mother hen sitting on her eggs, and when they begin to hatch several identical chubby chicks appear; because the film lacks color, the chicks are solid white. Then the duckling hatches, and we are startled to see that he resembles a caricature of a 19th century minstrel performer: his body is grayish but his head is solid black, except for his eyes and his large white bill. While his sibling chicks emit high-pitched peeps, his voice is an earthier-sounding honk, rather like a jazz trumpeter. Instantly the mother hen is horrified at the sight of him, and ushers her chicks away. The duckling is dismayed at this rejection, and from then on strives to prove himself worthy of acceptance.

In the studio's later adaptation this element of prejudice can be found as well-- it's inherent in Andersen's story --but somehow it's less pronounced there, perhaps because by the late '30s the animators' facility with character design had become so much more sophisticated. In the later rendition the duckling is different from his siblings (i.e. darker) and is rejected, but we still perceive him as a cute Disney character in his own right, while in the earlier version he's presented as grotesque. And there's a more significant contrast: in the 1931 version the duckling succeeds in earning the respect of his mother and siblings through an act of resourceful heroism, whereas in the later version he comes to find that he's happier with ducklings of his own kind.

Hmm . . . Sounds like the official Disney line on integration turned reactionary with the passage of time.

In any case, Disney buffs will find other elements of interest in this cartoon. The tornado sequence looks like a rehearsal of sorts for the big storm in the studio's later masterpiece, The Band Concert. And at one point during the storm there's a gag involving a woolly dog whose fur is blown off by the wind, causing him to resemble a character who hadn't been introduced yet, Pluto. But the most intriguing aspect of the 1931 Ugly Duckling, as far as I'm concerned, is the unmistakable message that no one should be judged by appearance, nor should the "other" be blindly rejected without a hearing. Sadly, it would be a long time before the Hollywood studios would find the courage to offer comparable messages in their mainstream features.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss The Ugly Duckling (1931) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: