As the Silly Symphonies continued, it was Symphony #36 which propelled Disney further onto the worldwide stage. Burt Gillett’s direction of the classic children’s fairytale cast the characters as Practical Pig, Fiddler Pig and Fifer Pig. It won the Animated Short category at the Academy Awards and showed a lean, tight structure that showed real characters in both the pigs and the big bad Wolf – a character which would appear again in the Disney shorts, including another fairytale based on Little Red Riding Hood. The short also features the voice of Pinto Colvig – a voice-actor who became truly memorable as the voice behind Goofy. Colvig would become important to the Disney story as the actor supplied voices for Sleepy and Grumpy in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
A Timeless Song
As mentioned in a previous post, Carl Stalling had already left Disney, only to be replaced by Frank Churchill. Churchill, with additional lyrics by Ann Ronell, composed and wrote what became the most successful song at the time: Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? This song, I am sure everyone can remember, but it’s success led to this particular film to continue screening well-after the expected run. Before his suicide shortly after Bambi, Frank Churchill composed some of the most memorable songs in the early Disney films – most notably Someday My Prince Will Come, Whistle While You Work and winning Oscars for his work on Dumbo and posthumously for Bambi.
Though children loved the film, adults could see how the short could be used as a parrallel to the great Depression – though Walt Disney always claimed it was purely entertainment. It had a couple of racist jokes (A ‘Jewish’ stereotype begging for money) but other than slight slip-up, the film still stands as a testement to the incredible characterisation and combination of music and animation that Walt Disney was capable. Animators included Art Babbitt (Animation Director on Dumbo), Norman Ferguson (Directing Animator working with Disney right up until Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland), Dick Lundy (Animator on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves) and Fred Moore (Animator on Snow White, Pinocchio and Fantasia).
One year later, in 1934, Walt became involved in a little idea that had been nagging him since one of the first films he saw in Kansas City – he had watched a silent, black-and-white version of Snow White …