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Three Little Pigs

A Silly Symphony

Release Date : May 27, 1933

Running Time : 8:41

Synopsis

Three pigs set off to set up housekeeping, and learn to deal with life and wolves.

Characters

Three Little Pigs
Big Bad Wolf

Credits

Director
Bert Gillett
Animation
Fred Moore
Norm Ferguson
Art Babbitt
Dick Lundy
Jack King
Music
Frank Churchill
Voices
Mary Moder
Dorothy Compton
Pinto Colvig
Billy Bletcher

Awards

Academy Award (Short Subjects - Cartoons)

Inside Jokes

One of the best throwaway jokes in any short involves a picture on the wall of a string of wieners with the caption "Father."

Cut Scenes

There are at least three different version of this short depending on what is cut from the "Jewish Peddlar" scene. Some excise the scene altogether, while others have just overdubbed the voice.

Video

United States
Favorite Stories : The Three Little Pigs
Cartoon Classics : First Series : Volume 7 : More of Disney's Best 1932-1946
Germany
Meister-Cartoons von Walt Disney
France
Les Chefs-d'Oeuvre de Walt Disney
Italy
I Capolavori di Walt Disney

Laserdiscs

United States
Paul Bunyan / The Three Little Pigs
Japan
The Three Little Pigs
The Academy Award Review of Walt Disney Cartoons

DVD

United States
Walt Disney Animation Collection : Volume 2 : The Three Little Pigs
Timeless Tales Volume 1
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Germany
Zauberhafte Marchenwelt 5
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
France
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Italy
Walt Disney Le Fiabe 4
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Sweden
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
United Kingdom
Walt Disney's Fables : Volume 5
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 19: The Big Bad Wolves
The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 1: Award Winners
Mickey's Mouse Tracks: Episode 35

Technical Specification

Color Type: Technicolor
Animation Type: Standard animation
Sound Mix: Mono
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Negative Format: 35mm
Print Format: 35mm
Cinematographic Process: Spherical
Original Language: English

Released by United Artists Pictures

Comments

  • Resulted in three sequels, The Big Bad Wolf, Three Little Wolves, and The Practical Pig.
  • This short was remade in 1941 for the National Film Board of Canada as an advertisement to support the war effort and entitled The Thrifty Pig. In order to make the metaphor apparent, the Big Bad Wolf was shown wearing a Nazi armband, and all the bricks in Practical Pig's house (including the piano) were made from Canadian War Bonds.
  • Animators incorporated the fact that the degree of curl in real pigs' tails reflects their mood and attitude into their animation for this short.
  • Walt Disney's original retelling of the story called for only two pigs, but director Burt Gillett convinced him to add a third.

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : There are classics in the Disney library, and then there are the iconic pieces. The pieces that are remembered by historians, animators and fans alike as something special. The Three Little Pigs is one of those, and the reasons stretch far beyond the excellent short itself. Instead, The Three Little Pigs is revered for the effect it had on the viewers of 1933, and rightfully so.

Remember your history books, and back in 1933, the United States was in the throes of the Great Depression. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the new President, and his tone to the nation was that of hope for the future. Sound familiar? Roosevelt constantly communicated to the nation that the best days were coming, and that fear was the enemy, to be banished at all costs.

This was essential for Roosevelt, because people were panicked. They feared the worst, and some were even calling for socialism, and replacing the democracy to get out of this catastrophe. The Three Little Pigs provided an anthem for Roosevelt’s hope message, in “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”

This is the first or second iconic Disney song (depends on if you count “Minnie’s Yoo Hoo”), but its popularity can not be overstated. Viewers of this short took the song as their rallying cry, providing a counterpoint to the doom and gloom of the Depression. And why not?

The short itself no doubt was intended simply as another Silly Symphony. And in that respect, it performs very well. It has a well crafted story, and very believable characters that are well designed. The wolf is frightening from the second he appears on screen, and the pigs are introduced just as you’d expect, standing in front of their various houses.

The music runs throughout the short, as you’d expect in a Silly Symphony, but it turns this into a flowing musical, with the lead characters voicing the parts, and the songs moving the story forward. This approach is what Disney would use later in the features, but you can see the experimentation with it beginning in the last few shorts.

The standout piece of animation here is the characters. Their emotions, facial expressions and movements are very well done. You can see the fear on the faces of the first two pigs as they dive for cover in the third pig’s brick house. The anger and frustration on the wolf is palpable as well.

As a short in and of itself, The Three Little Pigs is straightforward, telling a simple fairy tale. But it is definitely a case of right time, right place and a superb song that made it the instant classic that it was. It endures, though, because of the music and the character work. It’s still entertaining today, just as it was in 1933.

From RJ : This film is a giant. True classic Disney at its finest. Brilliant character designs, particularly the wolf, along with excellent pacing and a theme that is both relevant and timeless. Throw in one of the most memorable songs in all the Disney shorts and you've got yourself a legendary film. It gave me chills to watch this and I don't have any nostalgic draw to it. I'm not even sure I've ever seen it before in its entirety. It won the Academy Award and its not hard to see why. One of the best if not the very best of the shorts.


From Mac : Watching these things in order, you really see a culmination of a lot of the things Disney has been doing coming together in this short. Right from the opening shot, the catchy tune begins as does the familiar use of action synchronized to music. It's great fun (as ever), but here it's also used in telling the story and conveying the personalities of the characters. Disney has already been doing this, of course, but it falls into place even more here. In terms of the synchronization, I especially like Fiddler Pig's moving ladder, the Wolf's menacing sneak and the Pigs' dancing legs.

Of course the use of music goes even further, with the iconic song and lyrics throughout, but I don't want to just repeat everything Ryan said!

The Big Bad Wolf (he'll later be named Zeke in the comics) is great and was the Disney studio's first popular villain in terms of merchandise. Although he has comical aspects (e.g the funny disguises and his hammy reaction on landing in the boiling pot), he really is a believable threat to the pigs. Check out the way bangs the door on the stick house with the full force of his body! As the short progresses he becomes more ferocious, returning to the state of an animalistic beast when he winds up naked and leaps on the roof. He's a real wolf in that scene!


From The Deadly One : This is probably my most favorite Silly Symphony.
From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : Mac, that's a great point about the wolf "devolving" as things go along. It's such a subtle change I didn't realize it until you said it. When he jumps on the roof, you're right, he is a real wolf, not a human in a wolf suit. Very good catch.
From Tom Wilkins : How anyone can say that this cartoon is not one of the greatest cartoons in American history has not lived life! Plain and simple, this is a classic I am dealing with.

It all begins with Fifer Pig constructing his house of straw very carelessly. No duh! He toots his flute and don't give a hoot! At least give credit to Fiddler Pig who at least was attempting to construct his house of sticks, unlike the first pig who just threw his straw around and acted as if he invented the house. Be glad that Fiddler was not using a sawblade to play his fiddle.

Then, of course, comes the captain of the three hams on rye - Practical Pig. This pig had his priorities set, unlike the other two, since he knows that work and play do not mix. Trust me ... Practical was always one step ahead of every other character, including the other pigs.

With Piper and Fiddler already merrily playing their respective instruments, Practical was still hard at work on the rooftop of his house. Practical, unlike the other two, aced his way through several construction courses. He certainly took his time putting the brick house (and I don't mean the Commodores) together. The other two mock Practical claiming he has no time to play, but Practical gave his explanations quite clearly to them because there was some creature known as a wolf lurking about. The other pigs laugh, thinking Practical was nuts, because they assumed that there was no wolf, and if there was one, they could handle it themselves. Of course, little did they know.

Once the pigs noticed the wolf, the mood went from glee to sheer horror in a split-second and they ran for cover faster than James Jett of the Oakland Raiders. The wolf nearly caught Piper, but he was able to squeal his way out and into the straw house, which was the wolf's first target. Well, you know the rest. The straw house had no chance against the wolf's hurricane-force exhalation. I could only wonder if the animators were thinking about putting a little Pig - I mean, Turkey In The Straw music for this scene, but it would simply ruin the tone of the cartoon. Needless to say, Piper runs to Fiddler's stick house for shelter. The wolf plays possum, saying that the pigs were too smart for them and that he would leave. Obviously, the wolf was nowhere near done yet.

After a knock on the door, which the pigs hide under a blanket, the wolf decides to pull off disguise number one ... a wolf in sheep's clothing (and very poorly done, too). Clearly, the pigs were not fooled by this, and this angered the wolf into wiping out another house. For these two pigs, we do not know if either had renter's insurance, notwithstanding a mortgage. Unfortunately, Franklin D. Roosevelt could not give either pig substantial aid to repair the destroyed homes. Yet, as the pigs ran for Practical's brick house, the wolf was able to grab the two pigs by their tails and hung on for dear life until smacking into a tree. When they make it, Practical basically told them, "I told you so!"

Well, the wolf was now thinking, "Two down...one to go." Well, once again there's a knock on the door and the first two pigs hide under the bed. The wolf is a brushman (who says he worked his way through college, but I tend to differ) and surprisingly Practical accepts the brush through the locked door. Practical knew what he was doing, so there was no need to worry. Once he accepted, the wolf was on the attack, but got nowhere near Practical and the pig clobbered him several times with the brush, which he later discarded. The wolf is even angrier than before and is ready to use his iron lungs to wipe out the brick house, but after several unsuccessful attempts (with musical background by Practical), the wolf seems to have suffered an asthma attack.

The wolf recovers quickly and figures if he can't blow it down, I'm coming in anyway! So he jumps up on the housetop (reindeer laugh hysterically) and prepares to make an unannounced Santa Claus entrance. With a hot water pot at the bottom of the chimney and soot raining down on it, Practical again thinks ahead and takes his bottle of turpentine, pours it in the water, and prepares to see what happens when the wolf lands in it. Obviously, the wolf takes off like the Space Shuttle and runs with third degree burns on his fanny.

The pigs celebrate that they have won round one against the wolf (remember, there are still three more to go within the next five years), but Practical throws in one last "practical" joke. He knocks on the piano, and the other pigs, thinking it was the wolf, take cover under the bed ... again.

Please be sure you take a look at the other write-up with all the historical content about this cartoon ... extremely fascinating stuff!


From J. D. Weil : Historical foot-note here: Even though Carl Stalling left the Disney studio in 1930, he still made occasional visits to the place. Stalling was making one such visit at Disney's on the day that the music track was to be recorded, and was immediately drafted for the recording session. Stalling played the solo piano part and is heard prominently when the wolf tries to blow down Practical Pig's door.
From Jerry Edwards : The merchandising of many items with the images of the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs was hugely successful - especially considering this was the Depression era. A reenactment of the writing of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" was included in the Disney TV show "Cavalcade of Songs" (2/16/55), shown often on the Disney Channel. There are four versions of the Three Little Pigs. I do not think I've ever seen the original short. Both the soundtrack and animation has been changed from the original. The four version are (1) the original uncensored short (2) short censored with the animation changed so that the Jewish caricature mask the Big Bad Wolf was wearing is changed to just his face - probably done in the early 1940s - this version with the original soundtrack was supposedly shown as part of the 1973 16mm compilation "Milestones In Animation" and shown on the Disney Channel in the early years around 1983 (3) short censored with the original animation intact but with the original "Big Bad Wolf sounds Jewish" sound changed to non-Jewish - this copy was accidentally included on the video "Disney Favorite Stories The Three Little Pigs." (4) short censored with both the animation changed and the soundtrack changed - this is the version on most videos and shown on the Disney Channel. I only have versions 3 and 4.
From Ryan : While I am not a big fan of the "Silly Symphonies", I actually liked this cartoon. It was pretty funny. I remember owning its sequel Three Little Wolves on video at one time. I had not yet seen this one. One funny scene was seeing the pictures of the parents on the wall. The mother was a nursing pig and the father was a bunch of wieners.
From Atsuko : Another one of my favorites. I prefer the sequels Three Little Wolves and The Practical Pig, but that's just me I guess. Very interesting message within in the cartoon dealing with the Depression. The wolf is one nasty villain, and that fall in the boiling pot just isn't enough to pay back for all the torture he puts the pigs through! I loved the "Poor Little sheep" disguise of the wolf. His disguises are always so obvious! I guess Practical is the only one of the pigs to ever notice this.
From Brian Edward Johnson : My daughter loves the Three Little Pigs short. We have rented the video so many times, and have finally decided to buy it. Whose afraid of the big bad wolf? Not our three year old.
From Slightly : After seeing this short 90 times this year, I wanted to comment on it and this is what I have to say. The 3 pigs short is a wonderful cartoon to watch over and over again, the music, the animation, and the sounds were very good. Billy Butcher's voice as the wolf was magical; it was like the wolf was actually really alive and talking. When I was about 2 I was watching the 3 little pigs and when I saw the wolf coming up on the screen and spying on the pigs I just laugh at him and then when he blew the straw and stick it was so funny that I couldn't stop laughing. But when the short got to the part where the wolf was getting angry I was scared of him. I thought he would come to my home and blow it down and eat me. The Disney bad guys used to scare me until now. This is one of Walt's most wonderful, magical, enchanting, and golden cartoon in the Disney history. That's why I love it.
From Christopher : To me this is one of the best Disney "Silly Symphonies". I have grown up watching this cartoon, and never realized that it wasn't the original version. I have just see the original uncut theatrical version on the big screen. The music is a bit different, and the beginning and ending titles are totally different than that shown on the Disney channel, or on the videos. If anybody else has seen this short on the big screen please tell me so. It is such a great experience. The reason that I had seen this on the big screen was in part of the OSCARS 75th anniversary that's being held here in Los Angeles. If anyone is in Los Angeles you should check out this film series, for they have more Disney restored uncut shorts to show.
From Benke Cloudberry : I´m a great fun of Disney Cartoons and have bought all the Disney Treasurers. Imagine my disappointment when I read the Jerry Edwards comment that part of this cartoon is censored! My disappointment has grown further when I captured the same cartoon last June from the Nordic Disney Channel and found out that it was complete (including the "Jewish" disguise). How I liked the cartoon? Good, but none of my favorites. When I show it to my friends they enjoy that with the portrait gallery and so do I.
From Gijs Grob : One of the most successful, most famous and most perfect cartoons ever made. After more than seventy years, the song is still catchy and the storytelling is extraordinarily economical and effective. Although one will always remember the short's cheerfulness, it contains some black humor, as well: look for the portraits of dad in the wise pig's house.
From Baruch Weiss : This is one of the most famous Disney cartoons of all time and I can see why. Who's afraid of the big bad wolf would really be useful at a time like this with the economy down. Another scene in the film that looks amusing is in the practical pig's house where there is a picture on the wall of his father who is depicted as sausages!
From Mike : I was never a big fan of Silly Symphonies but this is an exception. It is very well made, very entertaining, and the Who's afraid of the big bad wolf song is very unforgettable. A classic no doubt.

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