Three Little Pigs (film)

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Three Little Pigs
Three Little Pigs poster.jpg
Directed by Burt Gillett
Based on The Three Little Pigs
Produced by Walt Disney
Music by
Animation by Fred Moore
Jack King
Dick Lundy
Norm Ferguson
Art Babbitt [1]
Color processTechnicolor
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • May 25, 1933 (1933-05-25)
Running time
8 min
CountryUnited States
Box office$250,000

Three Little Pigs is an animated short film released on May 25, 1933 by United Artists, produced by Walt Disney and directed by Burt Gillett. [2] Based on the fable of the same name, the Silly Symphony won the 1934 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film of 1933. The short cost $22,000 and grossed $250,000. [3]


In 1994, it was voted #11 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. [4] In 2007, Three Little Pigs was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Three Little Pigs premiered at the Radio City Music Hall as a short subject to Radio City's release of the First National Pictures film Elmer, the Great on May 25, 1933, in New York City.


Fifer Pig, Fiddler Pig and Practical Pig are three brothers who build their own houses. All three of them play a different kind of musical instrument – Fifer the flute, Fiddler the violin and Practical is initially seen as working without rest. Fifer and Fiddler build their straw and stick houses with much ease and have fun all day. Practical, on the other hand, "has no chance to sing and dance 'cause work and play don't mix," focusing on building his strong brick house. Fifer and Fiddler poke fun at him, but Practical warns them when the Wolf comes, they won't be able to escape. Fifer and Fiddler ignore him and continue to play, singing the now famous song, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?"

As they are singing, the Big Bad Wolf really comes by, at which point Fifer and Fiddler reveal that they are in fact very afraid of the wolf, so the two pigs each retreat to their respective houses. The Wolf first blows Fifer's house down (except for the roof) with little resistance and Fifer manages to escape and hides at Fiddler's house. The wolf pretends to give up and go home, but returns disguised as an innocent sheep. The pigs see through the disguise, whereupon the Wolf blows Fiddler's house down (except for the door). The two pigs manage to escape and hide at Practical's house, who willingly gives his brothers refuge; in Practical's house, it is revealed that his musical instrument is the piano. The Wolf arrives disguised as a Jewish peddler/Fuller Brush man to trick the pigs into letting him in, but fails. The Wolf then tries to blow down the strong brick house (losing his clothing in the process), but is unable, all while a confident Practical plays melodramatic piano music. Finally, he attempts to enter the house through the chimney, but smart Practical Pig takes off the lid of a boiling pot filled with water (to which he adds turpentine) under the chimney, and the Wolf falls right into it. Shrieking in pain, the Wolf runs away frantically, while the pigs sing Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? again. Practical then plays a trick by knocking on his piano, causing his brothers to think the Wolf has returned and hide under Practical's bed.

Voice cast

Reaction and legacy

The cartoon premiered on May 25, 1933, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. [5]

The cartoon was phenomenally successful with audiences of the day, so much that theaters ran the cartoon for months after its debut, to great financial response. [6] The cartoon is still considered to be the most successful animated short ever made, [7] and remained on top of animation until Disney was able to boost Mickey's popularity further by making him a top merchandise icon by the end of 1934. [8] Animator Chuck Jones observed, "That was the first time that anybody ever brought characters to life [in an animated cartoon]. They were three characters who looked alike and acted differently". (Other animation historians, particularly admirers of Winsor McCay, would dispute the word "first," but Jones was not referring to personality as such but to characterization through posture and movement.) Fifer and Fiddler Pig are frivolous and care-free; Practical Pig is cautious and earnest. The reason for why the film's story and characters were so well developed was that Disney had already realized the success of animated films depended upon telling emotionally gripping stories that would grab the audience and not let go. [9] [10] This realization led to an important innovation around the time Pigs was in development: a "story department," separate from the animators, with storyboard artists who would be dedicated to working on a "story development" phase of the production pipeline. [11]

The moderate, but not blockbuster, success of the further "Three Pigs" cartoons was seen as a factor in Walt Disney's decision not to rest on his laurels, but instead to continue to move forward with risk-taking projects, such as the multiplane camera and the first feature-length animated movie. Disney's slogan, often repeated over the years, was "you can't top pigs with pigs." [12]

Controversy and censorship

The short film originally included a scene in which the character of the Big Bad Wolf disguises himself as a Jewish peddler complete with a fake nose, glasses, and beard disguise. [13] In the scene, the actor's voice switches to a Yiddish accent and the music incorporates a fiddle. [13] This scene became more controversial after World War II and was eventually edited in 1948 with a redesign of the Wolf's disguise as a Fuller Brush man, albeit without the disguise, to make it less offensive, and the dialogue changed from "I'm the Fuller Brush Man...I'm giving a free sample!" to "I'm the Fuller Brush Man...I'm working my way through college." using a dopey voice. [13]


The original song composed by Frank Churchill for the cartoon, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?", was a best-selling single, mirroring the people's resolve against the "big bad wolf" of The Great Depression; the song actually became something of an anthem of the Great Depression. [14] When the Nazis began expanding the boundaries of Germany in the years preceding World War II, the song was used to represent the complacency of the Western world in allowing Fuehrer Adolf Hitler to make considerable acquisitions of territory without going to war, and was notably used in Disney animations for the Canadian war effort. [15]

The song was further used as the inspiration for the title of the 1963 play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? , as the sequence has nothing to do with the 1966 film.

The song was parodied in September 1989 during the stunt of WFLZ in Tampa, Florida competing against its nearby competitor WRBQ after WRBQ failed to fill a ransom to be the only CHR format in the Tampa area. WFLZ then started to mock and belittle its competitor, including a "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" parody entitled "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Q?"

Home media

In the United States, the short was first released on VHS, Betamax and Laserdisc in 1984 as part of its "Cartoon Classics" Home Video series. It came out on VHS in the UK in spring 1996 as part of the Disney Storybook Favourites series, with the Jewish peddler animation restored, albeit with the reworked dialogue. It was released on December 4, 2001, along with its sequels, as part of the Walt Disney Treasures: Silly Symphonies DVD, [16] with the PAL release again retaining the Jewish peddler animation along with the reworked dialogue. [2] The Disney+ release of the short however uses the altered animation in all regions.

It was later included in Walt Disney's Timeless Tales, Vol. 1, released August 16, 2005 (featuring the edited version in the US Silly Symphonies set), which also featured The Pied Piper (1933), The Grasshopper and the Ants (1934), The Tortoise and the Hare (1935) and The Prince and the Pauper (1990).

In those other countries to whom the original 1933 cartoon was first released with original soundtracks in both English and other foreign languages, the uncensored images — with original 1933 soundtracks in both English and other foreign languages — are still issued by Disney corporation in home release videos.


Disney produced several sequels to Three Little Pigs, though none were nearly as successful as the original:

Comics adaptations

The Silly Symphony Sunday comic strip ran a seven-month-long continuation of Three Little Pigs called "The Further Adventures of the Three Little Pigs" from January 18 to August 23, 1936. This was followed by another storyline called "The Practical Pig" from May 1 to August 7, 1938. [21]

The anthology comic book Walt Disney's Comics and Stories introduced a new character, Lil Bad Wolf, the son of the Big Bad Wolf, in issue #52 (January 1945). [22] He was a constant vexation to his father, the Big Bad Wolf, because the little son was not actually bad. His favorite playmates, in fact, were the Three Pigs. New stories about Lil Bad Wolf appeared regularly in WDC&S for seven years, with the last one appearing in issue #259 (April 1962). [23]

See also

Related Research Articles

The Three Little Pigs Fairy tale

"The Three Little Pigs" is a fable about three pigs who build three houses of different materials. A Big Bad Wolf blows down the first two pigs' houses, made of straw and sticks respectively, but is unable to destroy the third pig's house, made of bricks. Printed versions date back to the 1840s, but the story is thought to be much older. The earliest version takes place in Dartmoor with three pixies and a fox before its best known version appears in English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs in 1890, with Jacobs crediting James Halliwell-Phillipps as the source.

<i>Silly Symphony</i> Series of animated short films produced by Walt Disney Productions from 1929 to 1939

Silly Symphony is an American animated series of 75 musical short films produced by Walt Disney Productions from 1929 to 1939. As the series name implies, the Silly Symphonies were originally intended as whimsical accompaniments to pieces of music. As such, the films usually had independent continuity and did not feature continuing characters, unlike the Mickey Mouse shorts produced by Disney at the same time. The series is notable for its innovation with Technicolor and the multiplane motion picture camera, as well as its introduction of the character Donald Duck making his first appearance in the Silly Symphony cartoon The Wise Little Hen in 1934. Seven shorts won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

Big Bad Wolf Fairy tale character

The Big Bad Wolf is a fictional wolf appearing in several cautionary tales that include some of Grimms' Fairy Tales. Versions of this character have appeared in numerous works, and it has become a generic archetype of a menacing predatory antagonist.

<i>Pigs in a Polka</i> 1943 animated short film directed by Friz Freleng

Pigs in a Polka is a 1943 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies cartoon series directed by Friz Freleng. The short was released on February 2, 1943.

Burton F. Gillett was a director of animated films. He is noted for his Silly Symphonies work for Disney, particularly the 1932 short film Flowers and Trees and the 1933 short film Three Little Pigs, both of which were awarded the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and both of which were selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry.

Dorothy Compton was an American voice actress born in the early 1900s. An early friend of Walt Disney, she made her first acting debut in The Three Little Pigs (1933) as the voice of Fifer Pig. From 1933 onward she made more appearances in the next 3 installments of the Three Little Pigs: The Big Bad Wolf (1934), The Three Little Wolves (1936) and The Practical Pig (1939) along with minor appearances in It's Great to Be Alive (1933) and I Married an Angel (1942).

<i>Toby Tortoise Returns</i> 1936 film

Toby Tortoise Returns is a 1936 animated Technicolor cartoon in Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies series. It was directed by Wilfred Jackson. It is a sequel to the 1935 short The Tortoise and the Hare, and premiered on August 22, 1936.

<i>The Practical Pig</i> 1939 American film

The Practical Pig is a Silly Symphony cartoon. It was released on February 24, 1939, and directed by Dick Rickard. It was the fourth and final cartoon starring The Three Pigs. Like its prequels, The Practical Pig incorporates the song "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?". Unlike its prequels however, this was labeled as a standalone "Three Little Pigs Cartoon", suggesting that they were to get their own series of cartoons. It is also the second-to-last Silly Symphony cartoon.

<i>Three Little Wolves</i> (film) 1936 American film

Three Little Wolves is a Silly Symphony cartoon. Released on April 18, 1936, and directed by Dave Hand. It was the third Silly Symphony cartoon starring the Three Little Pigs. It is loosely based on The Boy Who Cried Wolf. It introduces the Big Bad Wolf's sons, the Three Little Wolves, all of them just as eager for a taste of the pigs as their father.

The first wave of Walt Disney Treasures was released on December 4, 2001. It includes four different DVD sets.

"Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" is a popular song written by Frank Churchill with additional lyrics by Ann Ronell, which originally featured in the 1933 Disney cartoon Three Little Pigs, where it was sung by Fiddler Pig and Fifer Pig as they arrogantly believe the Big Bad Wolf is not a serious threat. The song's theme made it a huge hit during the 1930s and it remains one of the most well-known Disney songs, being covered by numerous artists and musical groups. Additionally, it was the inspiration for the title of Edward Albee's 1963 play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

<i>Mother Goose Goes Hollywood</i> 1938 Silly Symphony cartoon

Mother Goose Goes Hollywood is a 1938 animated short film produced by Walt Disney Productions and distributed by RKO Radio Pictures. The short was released on December 23, 1938. The film parodies several Mother Goose nursery rhymes using caricatures of popular Hollywood film stars of the 1930s. The film was directed by Wilfred Jackson and was the third-to-last Silly Symphony produced.

<i>The Big Bad Wolf</i> (1934 film) 1934 film

The Big Bad Wolf is an animated short released on April 13, 1934, by United Artists, produced by Walt Disney and directed by Burt Gillett as part of the Silly Symphony series. Acting partly as a sequel to the wildly successful adaptation of The Three Little Pigs of the previous year, this film also acts as an adaptation of the fairy-tale Little Red Riding Hood, with the Big Bad Wolf from 1933's Three Little Pigs acting as the adversary to Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother.

<i>Three Orphan Kittens</i> 1935 American film

Three Orphan Kittens is a 1935 animated short film in the Silly Symphonies series produced by Walt Disney Productions. It was the winner of the 1935 Oscar for Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons). It was followed in 1936 by a sequel, More Kittens.

<i>The Pied Piper</i> (1933 film) 1933 American film

The Pied Piper is a 1933 American Pre-Code animated short film based on the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The short was produced by Walt Disney Productions, directed by Wilfred Jackson, and released on September 16, 1933, as a part of the Silly Symphonies series.

<i>Three Blind Mouseketeers</i> 1936 American film

Three Blind Mouseketeers is a Silly Symphonies cartoon based on the nursery rhyme Three Blind Mice and the 1844 novel The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. Directed by Dave Hand and Jack Cutting, it stars Billy Bletcher.

Mother Goose Melodies is a 1931 Silly Symphonies animated film, directed by Burt Gillett. Two years later it was semi remade in Technicolor as Old King Cole.

<i>The Thrifty Pig</i> 1941 film by Ford Beebe

The Thrifty Pig is a 1941 four-minute educational short animated film made by the Walt Disney Studios, for the National Film Board of Canada. The film was released theatrically on November 19, 1941, as part of a series of four films directed at the Canadian public to learn about war bonds during the Second World War. The Thrifty Pig was directed by Ford Beebe. It is also a remake of the 1933 film of the same name

Broken Toys is an 8-minute 1935 animation by Disney in the Silly Symphonies series. The toys in the story include caricatures of W.C. Fields, Zasu Pitts, Ned Sparks and Stepin Fetchit. Broken Toys was originally scheduled to follow Elmer Elephant and Three Little Wolves but was moved ahead of these titles in order to have it ready for a Christmas release.

Silly Symphony, initially titled Silly Symphonies, is a weekly Disney comic strip that debuted on January 10, 1932 as a topper for the Mickey Mouse strip's Sunday page. The strip featured adaptations of Walt Disney's popular short film series, Silly Symphony, which released 75 cartoons from 1929 to 1939, as well as other cartoons and animated films. The comic strip outlived its parent series by six years, ending on October 7, 1945.


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