The Thrifty Pig

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The Thrifty Pig
The Thrify Pig.jpg
Title frame
Directed byFord Beebe
Produced byWalt Disney
Animation by
Color processTechnicolour
Distributed by
Release date
  • November 19, 1941 (1941-11-19)
Running time
3 minutes, 41 seconds

The Thrifty Pig (aka Thrifty Pig and Walt Disney's The Thrifty Pig) is a 1941 four-minute educational short animated film made by the Walt Disney Studios, for the National Film Board of Canada. The film was released theatrically on November 19, 1941, as part of a series of four films directed at the Canadian public to learn about war bonds during the Second World War. The Thrifty Pig was directed by Ford Beebe. It is also a remake of the 1933 film of the same name

The Thrifty Pig features reused and reconfigured animation from Three Little Pigs (1933). Although in production prior to the Attack on Pearl Harbor, the film is an example of a World War II propaganda film.[1]


Practical Pig, Fiddler Pig and Fifer Pig are three brothers who build their own houses with bricks, sticks and straw respectively. Practical Pig warns his brothers to build their house with "War Savings Certificate" bricks so that the house will be a solid defence against the marauding Wolf. Fifer and Fiddler ignore him and continue to play, singing "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?".

As they are singing, the Big Bad Wolf in Nazi swastika regalia attacks the two spendthrifts and blows Fifer's straw house down. Fifer manages to escape and hides at Fiddler's stick house but the Wolf also blows it down. The two pigs run and hide at Practical's brick house. The Wolf then tries to blow down the strong brick house (losing his clothing in the process) but is unable to make much progress, as the bricks have made a strong foundation.

Finally, Practical Pig chases the wolf away in a flurry of bricks that unerringly hit the Nazi marauder in his rear. The three pigs then sing "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" but with the caution that their house has to be in order to keep the wolf away.

A pastiche of war scenes follows, each of which ends with a message (such as an aircraft shooting out the message "Invest in Victory"). Other messages show the importance of spending less as well as lending savings to create the weapons of war. They recommend purchasing war savings certificates, which are sold in a "Five for Four" arrangement, [Note 1]



With the outbreak of a global war, Walt Disney Studios felt a great pinch in their finances due to the loss of much of their European markets. This was further limited with the invasion of France by Nazi forces in 1940, which meant that the next Disney release Pinocchio (1940) was only dubbed in Spanish and Portuguese, a great deal fewer languages than previous Disney works.[2]

Due to this loss of profit, and losses on recent films, Disney studios faced a bleak outlook of a deficit of over half a million dollars, layoffs and pay cuts for the first time in the studio, and a $2.23 million ceiling on their credit allowance.[3] With bleak prospects, the studio was made into a corporation in April 1940, which raised $3.6 million to help pay off debts owed by the studio.[2] To enable his studios to keep afloat and producing films, Walt Disney sought out external funding to cover production costs, which would allow him to keep employees on the payroll and keep the studio working.[4]

On March 3, 1941, Disney invited over three dozen different representatives of various national defence industries to a lunch meeting, in an attempt to solicit work from them.[5] He followed this luncheon with formal letters offering work “For national defence industries at cost, and without profit. In making this offer, I am motivated solely by a desire to help as best I can in the present emergency.”[6] Four Methods of Flush Riveting (1941) was first training film that was commissioned by Lockheed Aircraft.[7][Note 2]

In response to Disney's efforts, John Grierson, the head of the National Film Board of Canada entered into a co-production agreement for four animated films to promote the Canadian War Savings Plan.[9] In addition, a training film for the Canadian Army, that eventually became Stop That Tank! (1942) was commissioned.[7]


While intended for a theatrical audience, The Thrifty Pig, along with the other three films in the series, was effective in delivering its message to Canadians through their local War Savings Committee. When America entered the war, these shorts were later released as part of the eight bond drives in the United States.[10] Years later, the Disney Studios released Walt Disney On the Front Lines: The War Years as a DVD boxed set in the Walt Disney Treasures series on May 18, 2014, with The Thrifty Pig appearing on Disk 1.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ The phrase "Five for Four" was coined to reflect a long-term return of five dollars for every four invested; it is also the name of another short educational film advocating the same cause in Canada during the war.
  2. ^ Disney Studios would eventually make 200 wartime training films, predominantly for the United States military.[8]


  1. ^ Shull and Wilt 2004, pp. 221, 225.
  2. ^ a b Barrier 2003, p. 272.
  3. ^ Van Riper 2011, p. 27.
  4. ^ Cheu 2013, p. 27.
  5. ^ Stillich, Sven. Donald versus Hitler: Walt Disney and the Art of WWII Propaganda. Spiegel online, August 10, 2009. Retrieved: March 7, 2016.
  6. ^ Barrier 2003, p. 360.
  7. ^ a b St. Pierre, Marc. "70 years of animation, Part 1 – When animation marches off to war.", 2011. Retrieved: March 7, 2016.
  8. ^ Telotte 2010, p. 128.
  9. ^ Maltin 2000, p. 16.
  10. ^ Gabler 2007, p. 383.


  • Barrier, Michael. Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in its Golden Age. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN 978-0-1951-6729-0.
  • Cheu, Johnson. (Ed.). Diversity in Disney Films: Critical Essays on Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality and Disability. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2013. ISBN 978-0-7864-4601-8.
  • Gabler, Neal. Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. New York: Vintage, 2007. ISBN 978-0-6797-5747-4.
  • Maltin, Leonard. The Disney Films (4th Edition). New York: JessieFilms Ltd., 2000. ISBN 978-0-7868-8527-5.
  • Shull, Michael S. and David E. Wilt. Doing Their Bit: Wartime American Animated Short Films, 1939-1945 (2nd ed.) Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers, 2004. ISBN 978-0-7864-1555-7.
  • Telotte, J. P. Animating Space: From Mickey to WALL-E. United States: The University Press of Kentucky, 2010. ISBN 978-0-8131-2586-2.
  • Van Riper, Bowdoin A. Learning from Mickey, Donald and Walt: Essays on Disney’s Edutainment films. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2011. ISBN 978-0-7864-5957-5.

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