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One of the most enduring of animated classics is Walt Disney's Three
Little Pigs, taken from the old fairy tale about three juvenile little
oinkers, only one of whom meets the challenge of the Big Bad Wolf.
Coming out as it did in 1933 it's both a metaphor for the Great Depression, the consequence of no financial planning for a rainy day and the steps we must take to reform the system as the New Deal attempted to do. A lot of people thought the same way as the Three Little Pigs did in poopooing the notion of a Big Bad Wolf, but only Practical Pig took practical steps in building his house of bricks so the wolf was kept from his door.
In Steamboat Willie, Mickey Mouse became the first of Walt Disney's animated creations, but in Three Little Pigs, the first of many songs identified with the Magic Kingdom was written and has certainly endured. Who's Afraid of The Big Bad Wolf is probably sung by so many parents to their children in reciting this tale that they probably think it came with the fairy tale. It probably was what won Disney his Oscar for Best Short Subject for the cartoon.
It was a mega-hit during the Depression, not an easy thing when people weren't buying records. I happen to have a rollicking version by Thirties band-leader and entertainer Ben Bernie of the Frank Churchill- Ted Sears classic. It's still quite a hoot.
And as a lesson in planning ahead, Three Little Pigs for children and former children can't be beat.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
HAVING been raised up with the knowledge of and familiarity with a
particular work of Art, Music or Cinema often leads one to lack a
proper appreciation for them. It's strictly a matter of lack of
maturity, lesser wisdom and taking them for granted. This is a
condition that usually finds a cure with a reviewing of the work in
question; particularly if it is screened again after a substantial
length of time has elapsed.
TAKE the case of today's special honored guest, THREE LITTLE PIGS (Walt Disney Productions/United Artists, 1933). To someone who had viewed it originally, during its first release theatrically, or to a Baby Boomer (like Schultz and Me!), who've seen this on TV since we were kids, this is perhaps just another cartoon. However, when one takes a good step back and views it freshly; one realizes just how great a work it is.
IN dissecting the animated 8 minutes, we find a much more complex movie than we would first imagine. Yes, it is a Cartoon Short; a very good one. Yes, it has beautiful Technicolor, the finest of Artwork and flawless animation; we concede all these amenities. It possesses the most lively and beautiful Original Musical Score imaginable. All of these things are true, but we can easily overlook one particular aspect; one that well may be the catalyst which rendered it so special.
THAT almost invisible ingredient is Poetry. The whole narrative of the short is tastefully done in rhyme. This is an aspect that is so well rendered as to be virtually unnoticed. All of the rhyming dialogue, regardless of which of the four characters delivered it, blended in a nearly flawless and seamless fashion. This is a highly important and possibly redeeming quality; for many a movie goer would be prejudicially affected about seeing and listening to "that sissy stuff."
INSTEAD, we're told that this 8 minute cartoon, this musical short had a great effect on our people in Depression Era America and the World. The original theme song of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" was heralded as the unofficial rallying call of the common folk and high society types alike. It certainly has a peppy, upbeat sound and mood about it and has a certain feeling of having one uplifted just to hear it. As far as longevity, it is about as well known now as it was 75 years ago.
WE did read of one particular problem that Disney and the Production Crew faced early on with THREE LITTLE PIGS; one that seems incredible today, but true nonetheless. It concerns the Wolf's masquerade as a salesman coming to the door of the Practical Pig.
IN the film we see, the Wolf says he's "Working my way through College" and "you want to buy a brush?" Both of these are certainly long established clichés; as, who hasn't heard that 'Working my way through College" or the Brush remark's being an obvious reference to the Fuller Brush Company.
BUT the scene originally called for the Wolf to be using a decidedly Yiddish Accent as he was supposed to be disguised as a Jewish Door-to-Door Salesman. Even Big Bad's costuming is reminiscent of the manner of dress used today by Observant Hasidic Jews, many of whom are active in any number of businesses.*
WHATEVER the reason, the scene was changed to a gag about a "College Kid, working his way through School." OTHER than that point, it's extremely difficult to find fault with this edition of Walt Disney's SILLY SYMPHONY Cartoon Shorts. It remains a near perfect masterpiece in 1933, today and for all of the tomorrows on our bountiful planets vast horizons.
NOTE: * There were many such similar stock characterizations or stereotypes used in Film, as a tradition borrowed from the legitimate theatre's stage. For example in the highly acclaimed CIMARRON (RKO Radio Pictures, 1931), character actor George E. Stone portrays a traveling salesman by the name of Sol Levy. His costuming was just about the very same as that used by B.B. Wolf uses in THREE LITTLE PIGS. Well, for whatever the reason, Disney changed the scene; although it is neither better nor worse for its happening.
Three Little Pigs is a cheerful, fun and lovable little classic that I
have loved ever since I was a child. While the pacing is a tad too
quick in places it is still hugely enjoyable for a number of reasons.
When I was little, I marvelled at how good the animation was for its time. From a 17 year old perspective it is still very very good, with colourful backgrounds and beautiful colours.
I also remembered singing along to the song Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? That song has to be one of the most memorable songs ever in a Silly Symphony, it is ever so catchy and easy to sing along to.
The dialogue is great. The Big Bad Wolf has some classic lines, but I think the best of them come from Fifer and Fiddler. There is one funny part when the Wolf dresses up in the sheepskin, the dialogue Fifer and Fiddler say cracks me up every time.
The Wolf, like the Three Little Pigs, is a truly memorable character. Sinister and rapacious, he did scare me when I was little, not so much now but the animation and voice work is wonderfully impressive even by today's standards. I do think the Wolf from Peter and the Wolf is scarier, me and sister haven't got over how scared we used to be of him.
The voice work is excellent. Billy Bletcher is perfect as the Big Bad Wolf and Walt Disney I recognised immediately from his voicing of Mickey in cartoons like Boat Builders and Mickey's Good Deed. Pinto Colvig, the original voice of Goofy, also does a stellar job.
Overall, hugely enjoyable childhood favourite. 9.5/10 Bethany Cox
I've heard about the politically incorrect version...the original version...of this cartoon, but have never seen it until today. It's the theatrical release that featured the wolf dressed as a jewish peddler, complete with a BIG false nose, beard, long black hair and hints of Yiddishe music for a few bars in the background as he gets hit over the head by Practical Pig (A clever(?) disguise as why would a Jew be at the door going after some pork?) In the latter day, "cleansed" version (circa???), Disney artists edited this part out and REDREW the scene aping the old classic style, changing the Big Bad Wolf into a harmless Fuller Brush Man, sans Jewish features. This modern whitewashing happened due to protests from folks over offensive stereotypes, but anyone whose seen pre-code movies knows Jewish peddlers were omnipresent whenever street scenes were shown, as were all ethnic stereotypes On the "forbidden" video I viewed, the second cartoon featuring the wolf in "Little Red Riding Hood" ('34), he dons a fairy outfit and minces about in the forest in an openly gay manner (it's hysterical), enticing Bo Peep and two of the Little Pigs. I don't know if this scene has been subsequently cleaned-up as well for today's uneasy audiences, but I have never seen this cartoon before. In fact, it was a well-kept secret, never featured on any Disney TV show to the best of my knowledge. The video I previewed is fairly recent, released circa 1995 (I thought it was cleaned-up in the '50's or '60's...the old version being yanked from circulation around the same time). Other videos I have seen feature the "scrubbed" PC version from an even earlier date, so I don't really know what's going on over at Disney. All I can say is that I'm Jewish, and love watching stuff like this. I don't believe in censorship, revisionism, correctness, or cowardice for that matter. These films are a chronicle of their age, and should be left alone. I'd like a show of hands...have any of you seen one or both versions...and do you deplore the Disney clean-up...or condone it?
Well, to start with, what do you say about a cartoon that somehow got
its way into The Shining? Well, it's that damn iconic, simply put. I
first saw this short many years back, so long ago it was when the
Disney channel played, from time to time, 1930s and 40s Disney cartoons
at certain times of the morning or day (when kids were at school so,
you know, on sick days and such). It stuck with me for the simple
reason that, hey, it's the 3 Little Pigs, what kid doesn't know the
basic gist of it? The Big Bad Wolf will come to the door, you got to
know how to defend against him from getting in.
"Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin," being one of those lines. But what's so much fun about the short, why I can remember it (and them, there was more than one short I think) was that it kept the song catchy throughout, the animated characters had strong, direct personalities, and I actually felt some danger for those little animated pigs from the Wolf. It's colorful, it's funny, it's a little terrifying in the strange way that a 30s cartoon can get in little moments, and it has persevered due to its message for young and old alike of facing against the odds and the "Big Other" that might try to come down. It's great to find out that the term 'Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf' was used as a line of optimism in the Depression too.
Three Little Pigs (1933)
**** (out of 4)
Disney's adaptation of the Grimm fairly tale is certainly one of the highlights of their early animated films. The story is pretty simple as three pigs are building a house. The two who builds it out of straw and sticks are free to play around more but the one building with brick has to work even harder. The two lazy pigs think it's quite funny until a wolf shows up and their lack of work comes back to haunt them.
THREE LITTLE PIGS is certainly one of the best animated shorts from this era of Disney and it's amazing when you think of the fact that when people think of the story, their ideas come from this short and not the Grimm tale. That says quite a bit because the story itself was quite popular before this short but ever since it was released people think of this short when the idea of three little pigs come along. The animation is as great as you'd expect and there's no question that there's a certain flow in the story that just makes it irresistible. Fans of Disney and animation will certainly love and remember this one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The animation on this 1933 Disney cartoon is bright and colorful, but
typically choppy of the vintage. There is absolutely nothing here that
you wouldn't expect from the title. Three pigs build houses of various
architecture (the one who builds his house from wood is dressed like
Donald Duck for some reason) while a hungry wolf attempts to blag his
way in to eat them.
Personally I'd rather see the pigs get gobbled up and the wolf get his dinner, but that's just me. How can kids side with the pigs and yet eat bacon themselves? The wolf even disguises himself as a stereotypical Jewish salesman at one point. I can't imagine anyone getting away with that now in these over sensitive times.
I remember as a kid reading and flipping thru the pages of the classic
storybook "Three Little Pigs". I highly enjoyed it as it taught good
moral lessons of hard work, courage, and to be prepared and ready when
danger strikes always be alert! I as a kid was even afraid of the big
bad wolf! So it was a real treat when I just recently watched the 8
minute Disney short. It's one of Disney's best animated classics. It
moves along beautifully by the sounds and singing of the three pigs
saying "Who's Afraid of the big bad wolf"? And remember I'll huff and
puff and blow down your house! Anyway the wicked wolf begins his
journey thru the wooded landscape towards the pigs dwellings. And the
first two pigs who are both laid back and take things as a joke clearly
are not concerned with the wolf and both put up their new homes. One
made of straw the other of sticks, yet after the wolf huffs and puffs
and blows down their houses, the two seek shelter and protection with
their brother the third pig and this serious and hard working swine
very wisely made his home of bricks! So no matter how much huffing and
puffing this house will not be blown down.
Overall this is one great memorable classic a Disney favorite it teaches the morals that can be applied in life like being clever, and smart plus with a little hard work one will be protected as you will not fall prey to the evil traps and destruction of your shelter! "Three Little Pigs" is an entertaining classic and educational for the lessons it teaches.
I remember first watching this before Pollyanna on "The Wonderful World of Disney" in 1981 and enjoying it so I decided to see this again on YouTube. Still enjoyable and hearing "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" brings such nice memories of being a child. Did not see the controversial version with the wolf posing as a Jewish peddler with the big nose but that's the only disappoint I got from this. (Just to make this clear: I'm disappointed not because I wanted to see a Jewish stereotype but because I wanted to see this short the way it was originally presented.) Burt Gillett really did a fine job as director with the music and the houses being blown down and the first two pigs still not completely learning their lesson as evidenced by the worker pig doing a trick on them at the end. So with all that said, I highly recommend The Three Little Pigs. Update 3/3/11-I just saw the excised scene on YouTube.
I've seen the second version with the Wolf dressing as a fairy but it is in Japanese and was a gift from my in-laws (my wife is Japanese) to my daughter. It's weird in that it combines the stories of the three little pigs with Little Red Riding Hood with the practical Pig coming to Riding Hood's rescue. This version doesn't have the Jewish Peddler sequence in it. I recently rented another video version which sounds like the one most viewers are commenting on as it does not have the Red Riding Hood sequence. The animation, colour, are excellent and the Wolf is terrifying even as an adult. Something about how Disney drew predators in these early films is extremely effective even today.
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