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Release Date:
16 December 1978 (USA) See more »
A young Judean boy tries to sell his beloved old donkey to someone who would care for him as much as he does. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
A small classic See more (11 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Sean Marshall ... Boy (voice)
William Woodson ... Tanner (voice)
Olan Soule ... Father (voice) (as Olan Soulé)

Hal Smith ... Auctioneer (voice)
Joe Higgins ... Guard (voice)

Gordon Jump ... Joseph (voice)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Small One ... Donkey (voice)
Thurl Ravenscroft ... Potter (voice) (uncredited)

Directed by
Don Bluth 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Vance Gerry  writer
Charles Tazewell  book
Peter Young  (as Pete Young)

Produced by
Don Bluth .... producer
Ron Miller .... executive producer
Original Music by
Robert F. Brunner 
Film Editing by
James Melton 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Richard Rich .... assistant director
Art Department
Peter Young .... storyboard artist
Visual Effects by
Ted Kierscey .... effects animator
Dorse A. Lanpher .... effects animator
Camera and Electrical Department
Joe Jiuliano .... animation camera operator (uncredited)
Brian LeGrady .... animation camera operator (uncredited)
Rob Maine .... animation camera operator (uncredited)
Chuck Warren .... animation camera (uncredited)
Animation Department
Daniela Bielecka .... background artist
Jim Coleman .... background artist
Lorna Cook .... animator (as Lorna Pomeroy)
Gary Goldman .... directing animator
Heidi Guedel .... animator
Bill Hajee .... animator
Dan Hansen .... layout artist
Chuck Harvey .... animator
Ron Husband .... animator
Emily Jiuliano .... animator
Linda Miller .... animator
Cliff Nordberg .... directing animator
John Pomeroy .... directing animator: "The Donkey" and "Saint Joseph"
Jerry Rees .... animator
Sylvia Roemer .... layout artist
Walt Stanchfield .... assistant animation supervisor
David Block .... assistant animator (uncredited)
Don Bluth .... animator (uncredited)
Janet Bruce .... cel painter (uncredited)
Chris Buck .... inbetween artist (uncredited)
Ben Burgess .... assistant animator (uncredited)
Daryl Carstensen .... cel painter (uncredited)
Randy Cartwright .... animator (uncredited)
Michael Cedeno .... assistant animator (uncredited)
Ron Dias .... background artist (uncredited)
Will Finn .... inbetween artist (uncredited)
Ed Gombert .... animator (uncredited)
Leslie Gorin .... assistant animator (uncredited)
Stan Green .... assistant animator (uncredited)
Dan Haskett .... animator (uncredited)
Skip Jones .... inbetween artist (uncredited)
Sarah-Jane King .... cel painter (uncredited)
Dan Kuenster .... inbetween artist (uncredited)
Diann Landau .... inbetween artist (uncredited)
David Molina .... inbetween artist (uncredited)
John Musker .... animator (uncredited)
Carmen Oliver .... cel painter (uncredited)
Vera Pacheco .... assistant animator (uncredited)
Henry Selick .... inbetween artist (uncredited)
Terry Shakespeare .... assistant animator (uncredited)
Dave Spafford .... inbetween artist (uncredited)
Olga Tarin-Craig .... cel painter (uncredited)
Sally Voorheis .... inbetween artist (uncredited)
Chuck Williams .... assistant animator (uncredited)
Kevin Wurzer .... breakdown artist (uncredited)
Music Department
Christalee .... lead singer
John Richards .... music recordist (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
USA:26 min
Color (Technicolor)
Sound Mix:
Stereo (RCA Photophone Sound Recording)
Finland:S | USA:G (No. 25388)

Did You Know?

This short was Bluth's last involvement with Disney.See more »
Movie Connections:
The Merchant's SongSee more »


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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful.
A small classic, 18 December 2008
Author: Atreyu_II from The world of artists

The cover line «A new animation featurette destined to become a Disney Holiday Classic» suits perfectly on this Christmas tale. This short is considered an experiment, reuniting the talents of Don Bluth and the artists from the Walt Disney Company, as much as it is a quality Christian propaganda mini-film.

It's a nice cartoon. The story is touching, the artwork is excellent, the animation is great and the whole thing runs on a perfect pace. But, back to the artwork, for those who are familiar with Disney's "Aladdin", the artwork here and even the sceneries give a certain "déjà vu" feeling.

As for the characters, the boy looks almost identical to Mowgli from Disney's "The Jungle Book", but he's much better drawn and not as slim as Mowgli. Plus, this boy is kind and very humble, while Mowgli is stubborn and often challenging to deal with. Curiously, some of the animation of the boy is identical to Mowgli's.

The donkey is precisely named Small One, which is ironic because he's such a large donkey. Big, yes, but as gentle as a lamb. The boy's father is a nice guy and Joseph (the donkey's buyer) is very kind.

About the characters I don't like, they are obviously the guard, the tanner, the 3 merchants and the auctioneer. Curiously, the auctioneer almost looks like Stromboli from Disney's masterpiece "Pinocchio". But although I like Stromboli, I dislike the auctioneer.

Our story takes place in Israel, outside of Nazareth. The story focus on the friendship between Small One and the boy, but also on the boy's attempt to sell the donkey for a piece of silver. They both live an awful day but the ending is happy. The donkey is sold to Joseph, who needs a gentle donkey to carry his wife Mary to Bethlehem. The ending has a strong magical feeling because of its excellent artwork and especially because of that sparkling big star.

The voice cast does a good job, including Sean Marshall as the boy (which is obvious, because his laughter is very Pete-like). Sean Marshall was not only a very talented young actor, but also a wonderful singer. If there's any doubt about that, he is very good as Pete in "Pete's Dragon" and he sings beautifully in that movie. In "The Small One", he demonstrates again his acting skills (in this case, vocal) and sings very well either. I wonder what happened to him and where is he now.

So, in conclusion, it's not an animated short without faults, but it's quite good and deserves more credit than it gets. It's really pitiful that such a trashy and gross movie like "Grease" has much more success, popularity and recognition than this nice little story (which came out in the same year of 1978).

The number of animated shorts, animated films and even live-action films made by Walt Disney Company doesn't stop to surprise me. Anytime I think there won't be more or that even more would be impossible, I keep getting surprised.

This should definitely be on Top 250.

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