The Wise Little Hen
|The Wise Little Hen|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Wilfred Jackson|
|Produced by||Walt Disney|
|Music by||Leigh Harline|
|Animation by||Archie Robin|
Frenchy de Tremaudan
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|7 minutes (one reel)|
The Wise Little Hen is a 1934 Walt Disney's Silly Symphony cartoon, based on the fairy tale The Little Red Hen. The cartoon features the official debut of Donald Duck, dancing to the Sailor's Hornpipe. Donald and his friend Peter Pig try to avoid work by faking stomach aches until Mrs. Hen teaches them the value of labor. Though distributor United Artists gave June 9, 1934 as the cartoon's release date, it was actually first shown on May 3, 1934 at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles for a benefit program, while it was later given its official debut on June 7 at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City. It was animated by Art Babbitt, Dick Huemer, Clyde Geronimi, Louie Schmitt, and Frenchy de Tremaudan (with assistance from a group of junior animators headed by Ben Sharpsteen) and directed by Wilfred Jackson. The story was also adapted in the Silly Symphony Sunday comic strip by Ted Osborne and Al Taliaferro, which was Donald Duck's first appearance in Disney comics.
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The Wise Little Hen of the title is looking for someone to help her plant her corn for the Winter. Peter Pig and Donald Duck both feign belly aches to get out of the chore since they would rather play than work. So, with help from her chicks, she plants it herself. Harvest time comes; again, Peter and Donald claim belly aches, but the hen sees through this when boards of their clubhouse fall off showing their little act when they shake hands with each other for evading responsibility. Upon wising up to their ruse, she and her chicks wink at each other upon knowing what to do with Peter and Donald later. She cooks up a tantalizing assortment of corn dishes, and heads over to Peter and Donald to help her eat them, but before she can open her mouth, they already fake their belly aches. Once she asks, they are miraculously "cured" but all she gives them is castor oil, to teach them a lesson. As the hen and her chicks eat the corn themselves, Peter and Donald, with nothing but an appetite, repent with all their might by kicking each other in the rump.
- Florence Gill - the Wise Little Hen (She only properly speaks in her sung lines when she asks Peter or/and Donald if they will "Help her plant, harvest or eat her corn")
- Clarence Nash - Donald Duck
- Purv Pullen - Peter Pig
- Dot Farley - Baby Chicks
The 1962 storybook Walt Disney's Story Land: 55 Favorite Stories featured an adaptation of the cartoon called "Mrs. Cackle's Corn". In this version, Clara Cluck is telling the story. By 1962, Donald Duck was thought unsuitable for a bit part in a fairy tale, so they use Daniel Duck instead. Patsy Pig was substituted for Peter Pig.
The short has been released several times on home media. The first release was in 1986 on Betamax on Donald Duck Volume 1. It was released in 1989 on VHS, Betamax, and Laserdisc on Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck Volume 2. It was re-released on those same three formats in 1991 on Donald Duck's 50th Birthday.
The short was released four times on DVD, the first time in 2001 on Walt Disney Treasures: Silly Symphonies and three more times in 2020 on Dubarry Was A lady, Ziegfeld Follies, and Lovely To Look At.
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- Kaufman, J.B. (June 8, 2020). "When's Your Birthday?". Cartoon Research. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
- Lenburg, Jeff (1999). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons. Checkmark Books. pp. 74–76. ISBN 0-8160-3831-7. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
- Merritt, Russell; Kaufman, J. B. (2016). Walt Disney's Silly Symphonies: A Companion to the Classic Cartoon Series (2nd ed.). Glendale, CA: Disney Editions. pp. 148–149. ISBN 978-1-4847-5132-9.
- Malone, Patrick A. "The Wise Little Hen". The Encyclopedia of Disney Animated Shorts. Archived from the original on July 26, 2011.
- "The Wise Little Hen". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2007-06-09.
- Duvall, Earl; Taliaferro, Al; Osborne, Ted; De Maris, Merrill (2016). Silly Symphonies: The Complete Disney Classics, vol 1. San Diego: IDW Publishing. ISBN 978-1631405587.