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Director: David Hand
Release Date: December 19, 1936
The success of Oscar-winning ‘Three Orphan Kittens‘ (1935) undoubtedly prompted this sequel, which is both less beautiful, less entertaining and less remarkable than the original short.
The film is aptly titled ‘More Kittens’, which shows its crowd-pleasing character. This time the kittens create havoc in the garden, while dealing with a fly, a tortoise and a teasing blue bird.
The cartoon is remarkable for introducing the good-natured St. Bernhard Bolivar, who would become Donald Duck’s dog in the comic strip two years later. He’s not named here, but the likeness is so stunning, not only in design but also in character, that there’s no doubt it’s him. True, there was also a St. Bernhard in ‘Alpine Climbers’ (1936), but this dog lacks Bolivar’s character, being more of a cliche St. Bernhard instead.
Watch ‘More Kittens’ yourself and tell me what you think:
Director: Dick Rickard
Release Date: February 24, 1939
Stars: The Three Little Pigs
‘The Practical Pig’ was the fourth and last of the ‘Three Little Pigs’ cartoons, not counting ‘The Thrifty Pig’, which was a propaganda film made for the Canadian government and which used the opening music of this cartoon. It’s also arguably the least inspired one of the four.
Again, the two pigs flout the practical pig’s warnings. Again, the wolf dresses up (this time as a mermaid, and it works), and again, his three little brats try to bake the two pigs alive. The only new idea comes in the very end of the cartoon, when the rather goody-goody practical pig is punished by his own lie detector.
It’s no wonder that the three little pigs were dropped after this cartoon. Of course, the Silly Symphony series were about to stop, but the pigs had had their time, anyway.
Watch ‘The Practical Pig’ yourself and tell me what you think:
This is Silly Symphony No. 74
To the previous Silly Symphony: Mother Goose Goes Hollywood
To the next Silly Symphony: The Ugly Duckling
Director: David Hand
Release Date: April 18, 1936
Stars: The Three Little Pigs
‘Three Little Wolves’ follows ‘The Big Bad Wolf”, being the third cartoon in the ‘Three Little Pigs’ series.
It introduces the Wolf’s three sons, who anticipate Huey, Dewey and Louie (who would make their cinema debut two years later, in ‘Donald’s Nephews’). They even speak in a similar way. The wolf, on the other hand, suddenly has an inexplicable German accent.
In this cartoon he dresses up ridiculously again, this time as Bo-Beep, but he does manage to lure two of the little pigs to his house. When he closes the door, the pigs turn red and say ‘why, Bo-Beep!’, as if they’re being seduced. Of course, the wise pig comes to the rescue, this time using an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine, called the ‘wolf pacifier’.
The three little wolves would return in the last ‘three little pigs’-cartoon, ‘The Practical Pig’ (1939), but in the subsequent comic strip only one would remain, and he eventually would befriend the pigs, contrary to his lookalikes in this cartoon, who are even more aggressive than their father.
The end-shot of this cartoon was later reused in the propaganda film ‘Food will win the War‘ (1942).
Watch ‘Three Little Wolves’ yourself and tell me what you think:
Director: Wilfred Jackson
Release Date: August 22, 1936
Stars: Max Hare, Toby Tortoise, The Three Little Pigs
This time Max Hare (who’s still a bragging bully) and Toby Tortoise combat each other in a boxing match, which – of course – Toby eventually wins, albeit by means of Max’s own trickery.
Apart from Toby Tortoise and Max Hare there are many cameos of other Silly Symphony stars, among them the three little pigs, Dirty Bill (from ‘The Robber Kitten’), Jenny Wren and the Cuckoo from ‘Who Killed Cock Robin?’ and, Elmer Elephant and Tilly Tiger (from ‘Elmer Elephant’), as if all Silly Symphonies were taking place in the same space and time.
This makes ‘Toby Tortoise Returns’ akin to the earlier ‘Mickey’s Polo Team’ from the same year. The whole atmosphere is rather like that of a future Warner Brothers-cartoon, and one can sense the sheer joy the makers had in bringing all these characters together in a cartoon which sole reason of existence seems to be pure fun.
Notice the black bunny and the black turtle that are Max’s and Toby’s helpers, respectively.
Watch ‘Toby Tortoise Returns’ yourself and tell me what you think:
This is Silly Symphony No. 61
To the previous Silly Symphony: Three Little Wolves
To the next Silly Symphony: Three Blind Mouseketeers
Director: Burt Gillett
Release Date: April 14, 1934
Stars: the three little pigs, the big bad wolf
It was undoubtedly made to satisfy the masses who, after the huge success of ‘Three Little Pigs’, demanded for ‘more pigs’. As one can expect, it’s not as great as ‘Three Little Pigs’, but it’s fun to watch.
The title card shows the main characters as if they were playing their parts. The cartoon, however, is named after the wolf, and deservedly so, because not only is he drawn better than in the original cartoon, he’s also the star of this sequel. Clearly being the greatest actor, he not only impersonates grandma, but also “Goldilocks the fairy queen” in a ridiculous and aimless costume, and even Jimmy Durante! Furthermore, he alone shows to be aware of the audience: he often looks into the camera, and even addresses the audience with a “how am I doing?”.
‘The Big Bad Wolf’ might be the first “fairy-tales mixed up” cartoon. It may very well have inspired Tex Avery to make similar, yet more hilarious cartoons like ‘The Bear’s Tale’ (1940) and ‘Swing Shift Cinderella’ (1945), both starring Little Red Riding Hood.
Watch ‘The Big Bad Wolf’ yourself and tell me what you think: