Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Three Little Wolves

Once again, for everyone who has told me time and time again that Walt didn’t do sequels (even some complaining about Toy Story 3), I will point you to Three Little Wolves, the third entry in the Big Bad Wolf/Three Little Pigs drama. New elements get added to this one in the form of the title characters.

The Big Bad Wolf has picked up some sidekicks here, in the form of three smaller wolves who join him in his plot to catch and eat the Three Little Pigs. They’re neat little characters, well designed and interesting, but not developed individually.



In many ways, the Three Little Wolves emulate what was going on with Mickey’s nephews, Morty and Ferdie, and are precursors to Huey, Dewey and Louie. This seems like a type of character that Walt wanted to establish in some way – a trio of mischievous youngsters. It would not take root here, but eventually, with the ducks, it did.

The story of this short is more centered around a variation of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” with the boy in this case becoming the two pigs who previously have gotten into scrapes with the Big Bad Wolf. While their older, wiser, brick-building brother works on a top secret “Wolf Pacifier,” the other two blow the wolf alarm horn, just as a joke.



After his obvious anger, you know what had to come next. The wolf dresses up as Little Bo Peep, and says that she’s lost her sheep. We get the nice gag of the little wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing, and the thankful Bo Peep gets invited over to the pigs’ house.



My favorite gag in the whole short comes next. As the wolf comes inside, he turns around and eyes the pigs, then locks the door and swallows the key. Rather than jump in fear, the pigs blush. They’re expecting romance with Bo Peep, not the wolf that jumps out at them. It’s rather funny and a little more grown up than other Disney shorts.



The scenes of the wolves chasing the pigs through the underground while the Big Bad Wolf leans leisurely against a wall are both amusing and menacing. When the pigs are captured, they at least manage to play some tricks on the wolves, taunting one of the younger wolves to blow the alarm horn. Then, they get the windbag Big Bad Wolf to blow the horn, bringing their brother running, after he ignored their pleas and the other blows on the horn.



We finally get to see the Rube Goldberg-esque Wolf Pacifier in action, and it’s a doozy. The short is worth it just for that, no joke. What is interesting is that Disney did not go further in making the Three Little Pigs more of series. They might not have much story potential, but using the characters in different ways could have given us different Disney cartoon stars. Imagine a world where we have Three Little Pigs meet and greets in the parks rather than Donald Duck? It could have happened.

All images copyright Disney. All rights reserved.


5 comments:

  1. I didn't realize the pigs were expecting romance from "Bo Peep", but then I was pretty young when I saw this cartoon. I actually remember it better then either of the first two. I wonder what interested Walt Disney so much in the idea of a trio of mischievous children. I think another example is the three cute little kittens in those two other silly symphonies "Three Little Kittens" (1935), which you covered already, and its sequel (sure, I say sarcastically, Walt hated sequels) "More Kittens", which I assume you'll cover later because it's the last Disney film or 1936.

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  2. Yes, the idea that Walt Disney didn't milk ideas for commercial gain is a bit of a laugh isn't it? The Big Bad Wolf was a popular character for Disney and they exploited that popularity to help pay the bills. There were toys and comics too.

    -Brian

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  3. Yes, it is a bit of laugh, which makes me wonder where the idea came from and why it's so popular among Disney fans.

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  4. This is one of my absolute favourites. Wonderful music, colours, animation, inventiveness, characters... and it's funny too! I agree that it's nonsense that Walt must have hated sequels. However, what is even more ridiculous is that some people have used the Three Little Pigs cartoons as a way of justifying the DTV sequels of recent years as something Walt would have done. Luckily no one's done that here!

    It's interesting to compare 'Three Little Wolves' to the original 'Three little Pigs". Although the later cartoon was not the sensation that its predecessor was, it shows great advancement in terms of animation and art and is thoroughly entertaining. From a technical stand point it is among the most advanced we've seen so far, nothing cheap about it. If we were to compare 'Aladdin' to 'The Return of the Jafar' it's a very different story. Everything about the sequel is cheaper and flatter, not all the original voice cast is used, Magic Carpet looks completely different it was made for a fast buck and it shows (and sadly it worked - the sequel made a fortune as did the dozens of DTVs that followed).

    Anyway, "Three Little Wolves" is a lot of fun. I like how the sneaking-behind-the-trees scene from the original cartoon is replicated here with all four wolves! Plus it's nice to see Fiddler and Fifer have a good idea of their own for a change when they trick Big Bad into blowing the horn.

    Although the pigs and wolves aren't as big now as Mickey and Donald, they have always remained somewhat popular. There's still one more cartoon to go in their series and they'll continue to pop up in animated form here and there. Then of course they're a staple of the Disney comics. In the 90's I grew up with comic stories involving Zeke (AKA the Big Bad Wolf) and his son Lil' Bad Wolf – who was actually friends with the pigs. Interestingly, in the comics, they lived in the same woods as the Song of the South characters.

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  5. Although the pigs and wolves aren't as big now as Mickey and Donald, they have always remained somewhat popular. There's still one more cartoon to go in their series and they'll continue to pop up in animated form here and there. Then of course they're a staple of the Disney comics. In the 90's I grew up with comic stories involving Zeke (AKA the Big Bad Wolf) and his son Lil' Bad Wolf – who was actually friends with the pigs.

    You have to admit, at least they gotten some longevity out of those characters in other forms. I often think a modern cartoon could be done today that perhaps spoofs pop culture like a take on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" or such. It's not so much running out of ideas by this point, but more where else could you take the series and it's inhabitants to different avenues.

    Interestingly, in the comics, they lived in the same woods as the Song of the South characters.

    I noticed that too, often you see Br'er Fox or Bear pop up now and then. One artist often associated with the "Li'l Bad Wolf" stories was Gil Turner who wrote many of these for Dell comics in the 40's.
    http://www.lambiek.net/artists/t/turner_gil.htm

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