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Walt Disney Animation Collection DVDs:
Wave 1: Volume 1: Mickey and the Beanstalk Volume 2: Three Little Pigs Volume 3: The Prince and the Pauper
Wave 2: Volume 4: The Tortoise and the Hare Volume 5: The Wind in the Willows Volume 6: The Reluctant Dragon

Walt Disney Animation Collection: Classic Short Films - Volume 2: Three Little Pigs DVD Review

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Volume 2: Three Little Pigs

DVD Details

Running Time: 61 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Aspect Ratio), Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; Closed Captioned

DVD Release Date: April 7, 2009
Originally Released Between 1933 and 1952
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
White Keepcase in Reflective, Embossed Cardboard Slipcover

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For a good quote to support why the Disney company shouldn't rely heavily on sequels, fans can point to something Walt himself said several times over the years: "You can't top pigs with pigs." The statement refers to a lesson learned in the early days of Disney animation, when the studio followed the hugely popular 1933 Silly Symphony Three Little Pigs with three successors over the course of the '30s.

Two of the three sequels -- 1934's The Big Bad Wolf and 1936's Three Little Wolves -- are gathered alongside their Academy Award-winning predecessor in Walt Disney Animation Collection: Classic Short Films - Volume 2: Three Little Pigs. Accompanying those pig cartoons are a quartet of somewhat memorable talking animal stories first released as one-reel shorts from 1936 to 1952.
Elmer Elephant, Lambert the Sheepish Lion, and 1943 Chicken Little may not be as familiar to people as Dumbo, Simba, and the 2005 Chicken Little, but Disney has nonetheless deemed those characters worth marketing to audiences as part of the introductory wave of this new DVD line.

Like nearly anything worth mentioning in Disney's vast catalog of animated shorts, all seven of these have previously appeared on DVD in the collectible Walt Disney Treasures series. Even if that quickly-disappearing, tin-housed line intimidated you, you could have already encountered up to four of these cartoons on DVDs like Timeless Tales, Volume One, The Fox and the Hound, Melody Time, The Rescuers, and Dumbo. But now they're gathered in one place, to give you a pleasant sampling of the quarter-century when color Disney cartoon shorts thrived, or simply to serve as a moderately-priced, hour-long babysitter.

A house made of sticks is no match for the Big Bad Wolf's huffing and puffing, as Fifer and Fiddler Pig learn in "Three Little Pigs." The Big Bad Wolf pretends to be Little Red Riding Hood's sick grandmother in Disney's little-seen version of this iconic fairy tale.

"Three Little Pigs" (1933) (8:44)
It's not hard to understand why this became Disney's most successful cartoon to date. Part of the credit belongs to the solid, well-known source fable, and the rest goes to the studio for bringing it to life in such fun fashion. Two carefree pigs build their houses quickly using straw and sticks, respectively. A third takes his time to construct his from bricks. When the cunning Big Bad Wolf shows up, he has little trouble blowing down the first two residences with his patented huff and puff method. The brick house, however, poses more of a challenge.

Chosen by the Library of Congress for US National Film Registry preservation in 2007, this short features the first popular original Disney song in "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?", which has been covered by the likes of Duke Ellington, Barbra Streisand, and LL Cool J in the 76 years it's been around.

Unsurprisingly, what's seen here is not entirely true to the original short; the Big Bad Wolf's Jewish peddler disguise as part of him pretending to be the Fuller Brush Man is gone, as is the presumably more Yiddish voice he originally used. The animation was revised long ago, dating back at least to the short's 1984 home video debut, and even affects the normally unedited Walt Disney Treasures' release of it.

"The Big Bad Wolf" (1934) (9:23)
Little Red Riding Hood is on her way to bring cakes and wine to her sick Grandma. Though Practical Pig warns against it, Red decides to take the shortcut through the woods, with Fifer and Fiddler accompanying her. As feared, they encounter the Big Bad Wolf, who uses disguises to fool his prey. Freer in form than the prior year's hit, this one still finds room to reprise "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" even with the pigs in supporting roles here.

"Three Little Wolves" (1936) (9:21)
This second sequel provides a twist on the tale of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. The Big Bad Wolf and his three trained young sons target Fiddler and Fifer Pig by posing as Little Bo Peep and her lost sheep. The pigs, who have already lost Practical Pig's trust by jokingly sounding the emergency wolf alarm, seem destined to become the main course of a family dinner. An Italian stereotype harking back to the perceived anti-Semitic gag in the original, remains intact here.

Foxy Loxy uses psychology for evil in 1943's "Chicken Little." Captain Cat's eye patch flaps up while he uncovers the rotund one of the "Three Blind Mouseketeers."

"Lambert the Sheepish Lion" (1952) (8:18)
Sterling Holloway narrates this Oscar-nominated short as his Dumbo character Mr. Stork mistakenly drops off a South African lion cub named Lambert among a brood of lambs.
Three Little Pigs poster Exhibitors Complete Campaign: Mickey Mouse and his Silly Symphonies poster Mickey Mouse presents a new Walt Disney Silly Symphony poster
Chicken Little (1943) poster Mickey Mouse presents a new Walt Disney Silly Symphony poster Three Little Pigs press book
Browse more classic Disney posters & memorabilia
Embraced by a mother sheep but taunted by his "fellow" lambs, Lambert grows into a timid adult who reluctantly proves heroic when a wolf hunts the herd.

"Chicken Little" (1943) (8:47)
A far cry from the studio's DreamWorks-inspired 2005 CGI feature and a strange twist on the familiar fable, this short lets Foxy Loxy use psychology to wreak havoc on a farmyard of fowl. After trying to convince Chicken Little that the sky is falling, the fox starts spreading gossip about leader Cocky Locky. That psychology book Foxy Loxy quotes was going to be Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf and the short is basically World War II anti-propaganda propaganda, although decisions were made during production not to code it so explicitly. Still, it's surprising for this dark and troubling cartoon to surface on a DVD that purports to "have you laughing, singing and creating wonderful, lifelong memories!"

"Three Blind Mouseketeers" (1936) (8:44)
A lighter tone is found in this cartoon, which pits three blind, cheese-craving musketeer mice against an eye-patched cat who wants them trapped. Captain Cat awakens to interrupt the mice's nighttime feast and comic pursuit ensues.

"Elmer Elephant" (1936) (8:34)
After Elmer Elephant gives Tillie Tiger flowers for her birthday, other young anthropomorphic animals pick on the pachyderm boy. When raging fire threatens the community, it's up to Elmer and his ridiculed trunk to save the day in a sequence prescient of Dumbo's climax.

Elmer Elephant (and his trunk) get tormented by a bratty tiger who's not at all like love interest Tillie. The Big Bad Wolf salivates behind a tree while the Three Little Pigs assume prominence (down to curly pig tail cursors) on the Walt Disney Animation Collection Volume 2 DVD main menu.

VIDEO and AUDIO

True to their original designs, all seven shorts are presented in 1.33:1 fullscreen and two-channel Dolby Mono. There are far fewer disappointments here than on Volume 1. Three Little Pigs is clean and sounds good (if somewhat inconsistent); you'll notice some stationary smudges and imperfections here and there, but nothing major. The Big Bad Wolf is even cleaner, with fewer flaws spotted, although its soundtrack is a little thinner and more dated. Three Little Wolves is almost perfect; it's marred only by slight flicker.

By far the youngest short on the disc, Lambert the Sheepish Lion is also the best looking and sounding. Though its Disney Rarities was one of the most erratically-restored of recent Walt Disney Treasures sets, it's maybe a little dark but highly satisfactory. Chicken Little is a bit grainy, but also up to snuff in picture and sound. Windowboxed Three Blind Mouseketeers may be the least sightly; its bright colors border on harsh, plus speckles appear throughout and the shrill dialogue is tough to understand.
Finally, Elmer Elephant offers clean video, with vibrant colors and minimal artifacts.

On the whole, it looks like the ample Treasures restorations have been utilized here, meaning all but those with unreasonable expectations (like improvement over the Treasures' transfers) should be pleased.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

The one bonus feature is a tangible one found inside the keepcase. This DVD's collectible lithograph, measuring 7 1/8" wide by 4 3/8" high, depicts the Three Little Pigs singing their signature song with Practical Pig at the piano. It's kind of cool but hardly worthy of display.

Also sitting inside are a Disney Movie Rewards sheet and a booklet promoting Blu-ray. The white keepcase is housed in an embossed, reflective cardboard slipcover, whose presence we can probably thank for this line's list price standing $5 above most of Disney's prior hour-long cartoon short compilations.

The static menus use imagery from Three Little Pigs and its sequels while playing an instrumental version of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?"

Promos for Disney, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Princess and the Frog, Up, Bedtime Stories, and Disney Movie Rewards play at disc insertion. Post-feature with FastPlay or from the menu on your own, the second tier of previews advertise My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too, "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse": Mickey's Big Splash, Monsters, Inc. Blu-ray, The Black Cauldron: Special Edition, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, and Disney Parks.

Outnumbered by the "Three Little Wolves", Fifer and Fiddler Pig try to stay away from Daddy's kitchen. Lambert the Sheepish Lion has a loving sheep for a mother.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The second volume of the Walt Disney Animation Collection
Disney
offers some good to great shorts with pleasing picture/sound considering the age. If getting these seven cartoons for $15 sounds better to you than spending about $100 to get these cartoons and over 100 like them through the Disney Rarities and two Silly Symphonies tins, then by all means pick this DVD up. Otherwise, you probably already own the Walt Disney Treasures or aren't a big enough fan of vintage Disney to care. Those who consider Three Little Pigs a personal favorite and those who would be glad to own an hour of standalone classic shorts without the big name characters also should keep an eye out for this compilation, especially when a sale brings the price to a more reasonable point.

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Related Reviews:
New to DVD: Walt Disney Animation Collection, V1: Mickey and the Beanstalk Bedtime Stories Schoolhouse Rock! Earth Bolt Marley & Me
Walt Disney Treasures: Silly Symphonies Walt Disney Treasures: More Silly Symphonies Walt Disney Treasures: Disney Rarities
Walt Disney Treasures: Walt Disney on the Front Lines Shrek the Halls Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Storybook Surprises
The Fox and the Hound (25th Anniversary Edition) Dumbo (Big Top Edition) It's a Small World of Fun! Volume 4 Home on the Range
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Academy Awards Animation Collection Chicken Little Popeye the Sailor: Volume 1 (1933-1938)

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Reviewed April 2, 2009.