May 27, 1933 – The Silly Symphony The Three Little Pigs is Released to Theaters
“You can play and laugh and fiddle, don’t think you can make me sore, I’ll be safe and you’ll be sorry when the wolf comes to your door!”
On May 27, 1933, the Silly Symphony The Three Little Pigs was released to theaters. The short was based on the fable of the same name, and became a breakout hit of 1933, with Depression-weary audiences embracing the song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” as the anthem of the time, with the wolf representing the Depression and their troubles. The short was also a milestone in animation at the studio in the areas of characterization, score, and song. In most theaters, the short would be placed in top billing, lasting long after the accompanying feature had come and gone; one New York theater manager put beards on the pigs faces in their display, and had the beards “grow” the longer the run was extended. The original version of the short had the Wolf disguised as a Jewish peddler, but has since been removed. It is important to note that ethnic and racial stereotype humor were incredibly common in this time period, and many Jewish producers would incorporate these stereotypes themselves. Three Little Pigs went on to win the Academy Award for Best Cartoon. The short was directed by Burt Gillett.
Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Pig are making their houses, with Fiddler and Fifer not taking their task too seriously. Practical Pig, however, is mostly concerned with keeping the wolf away, and builds his house of bricks. When his brothers come by to taunt him for working all day, he warns them that he will be safe when the wolf comes, but the two laugh it off, teasing Practical for being afraid of the Wolf. As the pigs dance and sing, the Wolf comes by, scaring the two back into their homes. He goes Fifer’s straw home first, and blows it clear away. Fifer runs to Fiddler’s stick home, and the two hide inside. The wolf then pretends to walk away, and the two begin to sing their song again.
The wolf appears at the door, pretending to be a lost little sheep that needs help, but the two see right through his disguise. Angered, he blows the house down, and the two flee as fast as they can to Practical’s house. He lectures the two of their folly, but tells them he’s glad they’re safe. The Wolf then arrives as a brush salesman, but Practical Pig doesn’t fall for it. The Wolf then attempts to blow the house down, but is unable to do so. He finally decides to come down the chimney and seize the pigs, unaware that Practical Pig has a large boiling cauldron waiting below filled with turpentine. The wolf falls in and is sent shooting up again from the pain, and scurries down the road, howling. All three pigs end the short singing merrily.