The Thrifty Pig

A Wartime Short

Release Date : November 19, 1941

Running Time : 4:11


Reused and reconfigured animation from "The Three Little Pigs" is used to show the advisability of buying Canadian War Bonds to support the war effort.


Three Little Pigs
Big Bad Wolf


Ford Beebe


United States
Disney Treasures : On the Front Lines

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


  • A short made for the National Film Board of Canada which promoted the purchase of Canadian war bonds.

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : 1941 is such an interesting time in the history of the Disney studio, as it truly marks a change in the way business was conducted. The “failures” of Pinocchio and Fantasia left Walt and Roy strapped for cash, so you saw things like The Reluctant Dragon, designed to make use of shorts and dip a toe into live action. Dumbo was created for less money than the other features, and with the exception of Bambi, future feature productions were slowed or retooled.

This doesn’t even touch on things like the animator’s strike or Walt’s trip to South America, both of which would change things in the studio during the years to come. Then, there was World War II, which was just then beginning to involve the United States. After Pearl Harbor, Disney would take a lot of work from the government to help with the war effort, but even before that, Disney took a contract from the Canadian government to join in the war.

The first of these efforts was The Thrifty Pig, a virtual remake of The Three Little Pigs, only with the aim of getting people to invest in war savings bonds. As such, the plot is retooled, so that Practical Pig’s house is reinforced with war bond “bricks,” and the wolf is portrayed as a Nazi.

Most of the rest of the short is unchanged from The Three Little Pigs, until you get to the end. Then, there is new footage that dramatizes the need for savings bonds, showing how they will win the war effort. The bonds transform into planes or tanks, and propaganda sayings appear on the wings of planes or through bullets shot at the screen.

It’s quite a departure from the fairy tale and fantasy tales we’ve seen from Disney before. There is more like this to come as Disney gets more and more into the war effort, especially when Victory Through Air Power is made. But for now, The Thrifty Pig is an interesting look into Disney on the verge of entering World War II, released only weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

From Jerry Edwards : The animation from Three Little Pigs is effectively recycled for this first of four public service shorts for the Canadian government to promote the sale of Canadian war bonds. I like how the Big Bad Wolf is redrawn with a Nazi hat and armband to represent the Nazi enemy. When the wolf attempts to blow down the brick house, the plaster is blown away to reveal that the bricks are protected by a secure "foundation of bonds." Thrifty Pig says, "These bricks not only stop his blowing, they will also get him going," and heaves the "certificate bricks" at the fleeing wolf. The three pigs sing at the end of the short:

"Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? The Union Jack's still waving. We'll be safe from the Big Bad Wolf If you lend your savings.

I find it more interesting than entertaining, although there is some entertainment value. But the historical perspective is what makes this most interesting to me.

From Atsuko : I don't really find this one that great. As a fan of the Three Little Pig shorts, it was a disappointment that it is just recycled footage from Three Little Pigs altered to make the wolf a Nazi and Practical's house made of war bonds. Considering that the original dealt with the Depression, changing it to reflect WWII ideas just doesn't seem right to me. It would have been better had they produced a new cartoon where the plot and message actually made sense together.
From Ryan : I realize that this short was not meant for the purpose of entertainment. It was merely meant to urge Canadians to buy war bonds. I like it historicalwise, but I would definitely not call it one of my favorites.
From Ajisai : I understand that this is one of those cartoons valued more for its historical role than for being entertaining. But as a big fan of the Pigs, this one really let me down. It's just recycled animation with some parts cheaply redrawn, and feels like a mockery of the original 1933 short. Practical's house being made of war bonds is cheesy, and the Wolf being a Nazi is just weird. I don't care much for the propaganda shorts, but this one left a particularly bad taste in my mouth.
From Christian : It's not the best short, but it's interesting to see the Big Bad Wolf take the role of Hitler.

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