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The Practical Pig

A Three Little Pigs Cartoon

Release Date : February 24, 1939

Running Time : 8:21

Synopsis

Practical Pig builds a lie detector while Fifer Pig and Fiddler Pig go for a swim. As usual, the Big Bad Wolf is not far behind.

Characters

Three Little Pigs
Big Bad Wolf (Voice: Billy Bletcher)
Three Little Wolves

Credits

Director
Dick Rickard
Asst. Director
Ford Beebe
Animation
Fred Moore
Larry Clemmons
Claude Smith
Riley Thompson
Norm Ferguson
Frank Thomas
Ollie Johnson
George Rowley
Art Palmer
Layout
Ken Anderson
Ken O'Connor
Thor Putnam
Music
Frank Churchill
Paul J. Smith
Voices
Tommy Wiggins
Mary Moder
Betty Bruce
Tom Buchanan
Ralph Hansel
Donald Kearin
Dick Holland
Leone Ledoux

Laserdiscs

Japan
The Three Little Pigs

DVD

United States
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Germany
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
France
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Italy
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
Sweden
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies
United Kingdom
Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 53: Silly Symphonies at the Zoo
The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 19: The Big Bad Wolves

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 RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.

Comments

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : The Practical Pig revisits the Three Little Pigs, probably the most popular Disney characters outside of Mickey and his gang. It’s a good short, and we even get a little more of a glimpse into the pigs’ lives. But at this point, it seems as though the pigs are one note characters, and all the shorts follow the same pattern.

Before, we saw how the pigs treated the menace of the wolf, with two of the brothers mocking him while the more level-headed brother took things seriously and ended up saving the day. No change in this short, as it’s named after the level-headed brother, who again saves the day.

The Practical Pig, as I would assume he is named from the title, is now becoming a bit of a tinkerer. We saw his invention in the last pig short, Three Little Wolves, which saw the “Wolf Pacifier” come into play. This time out, he’s building a Lie Detector. Not sure what the purpose of this would be, but he insists it will help against the wolf. Doesn’t really make sense when you think about it.

This is the attitude of the pig’s brothers, who mock him roundly and head off to the swimming hole. Of course, they are then captured by the wolf, just like they were in the previous shorts. This is my main problem with this short, is that it is the same set up as the earlier pig shorts. The story in this and in Three Little Wolves is very much the same.

I will have to say that there are some particularly inventive gags in this one. The wolf catches the pigs by posing as a mermaid, which was pretty amusing. The Lie Detector itself was an inspired piece of work, as it takes great pains to find out if the wolf is lying and later if the other brothers are, then paddles them with a brush or washes their mouths out with soap.

The three little wolves are also back here, but they are just like Huey, Dewey and Louie, in that they are not distinct characters, but more parts of a whole. They move in concert, trying to eat the brothers while their father is off trying to catch the other pig.

The Practical Pig includes some great funny ideas, but it does not hang together as well as the previous pig shorts. Like I said, I enjoyed the Lie Detector greatly, and the finale of having the pig brothers all being attacked by it was quite good. The problem was that there was nothing else new in the middle to keep things flowing. I liked it, but it definitely seems like time to retire the pigs.


From David Gerstein at Ramapith : There was an easy way to keep the Pigs going—but only the comics figured it out: make one of the bad little wolves a good guy, who can befriend Practical Pig (yep—that's his name) but feels guilty about disobeying his pop.

Now the series focus can be on Wolf character conflict, and the Pigs can settle into the ideal foils and MacGuffins for the situation; interesting enough that they're never boring, but not the main characters, either.


From Mac : This cartoon is one of the very last Silly Symphonies. Interestingly the titles don't mention the series at all it is instead labeled as a Three Little Pigs cartoon. It seems to suggest that it's the start of a more regular series for the pigs, but it was not to be.

I agree that the pig cartoons are falling into a pattern and, had the series continued, the stories could do with some new ideas. As David says the comics focussed on the the Big Bad Wolf (renamed Zeke in the comics I read) and his son who was friends with the pigs. However, I think Practical Pig is a strong enough character to work in all kinds of stories. There are all kinds of scenarios which could be created concerning him starting up businesses with his crazy inventions, while the foolish pigs wind up getting him in dangerous situations. Or maybe Practical could play a trick on his brothers to teach them a lesson. The Pigs also live in a world with other fairytale and fable characters so there's a wealth of opportunities there. Also what if the wolf changed tactics and started trying to trick and capture the smart pig first for a change?

Still, this cartoon is too enjoyable for me to care that it's falling into a formula. The lie detector, which also punishes the truth out of its victims is great - you get the feeling Practical built it as much for his brothers as he did the wolf (his increasing annoyance with them could have fueled lots of funny story material if the pig series had continued). It also has one of my favourite endings with a gag I didn't see coming the first time I saw it.


From Jerry Edwards : After teasing Practical Pig for working on yet another wolf machine (a lie detector machine)and being warned not to go swimming because the wolf is near, Fiddler and Fifer Pig are captured by the Big Bad Wolf, in the disguise of a mermaid. They escape from the Three Little Wolves while Practical Pig uses the lie detector machine to force the truth out of the Big Bad Wolf of where his pig brothers are. The lie detector shoots the Big Bad Wolf into the distance with a giant firerocket. When Fiddler and Fifer return home, the lie detector spanks them for not telling the truth about going swimming. The short ends with Practical Pig being spanked by the machine when he tells the other pigs that their spanking hurts him more than it does them. By this 4th Pigs short, the formula has definitely worn out its welcome. But there are still fun gags and interesting scenes. One again, Fidder and Fifer Pig react to the wolf "mermaid" in a sexually suggestive way - which is a bit strange to me. The Big Bad Wolf made one UGLY mermaid!
From Atsuko : I remember watching this cartoon as a little girl. It must be my favorite Disney short. I loved the scene where the Wolf disguises as a mermaid to fool Fiddler and Fifer pig. His attempts at trying to act female are so obvious it's hilarious! I always remember the part where Practical uses his Lie Detector machine on the wolf. When the wolf lies, he gets his mouth washed out with soap and his pants are pulled down and he gets spanked. I always found it kind of sexually exciting, I'm not sure why but I still love it. Of course the best scene is at the end when the lying pigs are spanked by the machine. I wish I could find some pictures from it nowadays.
From Ryan : While Practical Pig works on his lie detector, Fiddler and Fifer go for a swim. I enjoy the scene where the wolf disguises himself as a mermaid in order to get Fiddler and Fifer. I also find it rather odd that the two pigs would find the "mermaid" attractive. The wolf made a terribly ugly mermaid. The three little wolves are also featured in this short. Their father, who has caught Fiddler and Fifer, tells them not to eat until he catches the third pig. The wolf disguises himself as a messenger boy (a rather ugly one) and delivers a message to Practical Pig. I find the part where the wolf is in the lie detector to be quite humorous. Every time the wolf lies, the machine's whistle blows. His mouth is washed with soap and his butt is spanked. Everytime he tells the truth, a mechanical bird comes out of the machine. Sure enough, the wolf is catapulted into the sky. Fiddler and Fifer return home after escaping from the three little wolves. Practical Pig is very upset of course and says "What did I tell you about going swimming?" His two brothers deny it. The results are just hilarious when the lie detector is used on them. Their butts are spanked so hard that they begin to turn red. Even Practical Pig gets a dose of his own medicine when he tells his brothers that "This hurts me more than it hurts you!"
From Katy : I saw this cartoon as a little girl (yes, we had TV then!) and again quite a few years ago when the Disney Channel was still running the old Disney cartoons (They don't seem to, anymore!).

All this time, I thought I was the only one who found the Lie Detector taking down the two little pigs' swimming trunks and spanking their pink behinds with brushes was funny-- and a bit sexy! I'm glad I'm not the only one!

As to the two brother pigs getting hot for the (really ugly) Mermaid Wolf-- that was very funny too! The old Disney cartoons really dealt more with sexual feelings than people seem to think.


From Candy : So I'm not the only one who thinks that there was something sexual about this cartoon. Really, I always thought that it was more about Disney preaching against lying. I grew up with the record of The Three Little Pigs, which was a record adaptation of some of the Pigs cartoons. The tone on the record was more preachy and frightening than sexy. But then I saw the cartoon in the 80s and I was amazed at how violent it was. It's funny, too, but I always thought it was particularly violent for a Disney cartoon. I guess the moral tone of the record overshadowed the cartoon for me. It's a unique cartoon for its depiction of a lie-detecting-spanking machine. I'd love to know what Walt Disney himself said about this cartoon or what his attitude was toward corporal punishment. It would seem that he was for it, judging from this cartoon and the record that was based on it. If anyone out there knows anything about this, please post another comment.
From Zeed Meyer : This is included as an Easter Egg in the captions menu on the Disney Treasures Silly Symphony DVD. I believe it is included as an easter egg because this is not a Silly Symphony cartoon according to the title card, but the first and only short released as a "Three Little Pigs" short.
From Ajisai : When I was a kid I had a book version of this story that I read over and over again. I never got to see the actual cartoon until a few years ago when it was on the Ink & Paint Club, and I stayed up all night to tape it! Suffice to say it was worth it! It is probably one of my favorite shorts ever, and a big reason is the progression of the animation from 1933. When you look at how much the designs of the pigs and the Wolf (or wolves) changed over just a couple years, it's pretty interesting. Also, the use of light and shadows has come a long way. I'd dare to say the animation, especially the background paintings, looks about as good as anything in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves", and this is just for one of the 3 Little Pigs sequels that Walt Disney is often said to have regretted making in later years!

So Practical builds another anti-Wolf contraption, this time a Lie Detector. His brothers have about as much patience with him as they did last time, and they even proceed to mock the overuse of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" from earlier shorts by dancing around and pretending to play their instruments! Despite their brother's warnings, Fiddler and Fifer go swimming, only to get caught by the Big Bad Wolf, who once again uses the drag routine and "seduces" them! It's a very funny scene, and I love the Wolf's disguise because it's so ridiculous. He takes them back to his new home (in the old mill) and after some arguing, heads off to get Practical, his sons set about turning the other two pigs into a pork pie, despite promising their father that they would wait for him.

The Wolf, disguised as a "messenger boy" delivers a letter to Practical, who isn't fooled at all. He then traps the Wolf with his Lie Detector machine, which does as its name implies and detects when the Wolf is lying. It also washes his mouth out with a scrubbing brushed & soap and/or pulls his pants down with a big hook and gives him a spanking! Ouch! While the other two pigs manage to free themselves and escape the wolf cubs, Big Bad is subjected to increasingly more torture until he finally gives in and tells the truth, only to then be shot right out of the house with a rocket. Before Practical can go to save his brothers, they rush in and send him into the wall. When he scolds them for going swimming against his orders, they lie, and soon are getting a spanking from the Lie Detector too! I guess the moral of the story is "don't ever tell lies!"

Reading the other comments about this short, I have to say I agree with the somewhat sexual undertones of the ending, with Fiddler and Fifer strapped down getting their bottoms warmed by the hairbrush-wielding machine. The rest of the cartoon has a similar feeling to it, and it's simultaneously hilarious and disturbing. But we have to remember it was made in a different time, and while it seems violent now, it was more acceptable back then. Still, it's one of my favs!


From Bob : I remember reading the story in Disney's Fun Favorites book when I was a kid. I saw it maybe twice. I think it was very funny. I missed buying Silly Symphonies 1 from Walt Disney Treasures. Maybe someday they will release it on one of their regular cartoon DVDs. The spanking machine was great.
From Baruch Weiss : Great short, but I agree that the wolf made an ugly mermaid and an ugly messenger boy.

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