Who Killed Cock Robin?
Studio: Disney Release Date : June 29, 1935 Series: Silly Symphony

Cumulative rating:
(4 ratings submitted)


A new twist on an old nursery rhyme as the criminal bird court attempts to determine who killed Cock Robin as he wooed his love, Jenny Wren. Robin, it turns out, is not dead, but merely wounded by Cupid's arrow.


Jenny Wren
(Voice: Martha Wentworth)

Music Sources

Morey, Larry and Frank Churchill : "Who Killed Cock Robin? "


Nominated for the Academy Award (Oscar): Best Animated Short Film


United Artists

Cut Scenes

  • Some black and southern stereotypes were cut as were scenes of police brutality. They have been restored for the current DVD edition.


  • An excerpt from this short was used in the Gaumont-British Picture's production of "The Woman Alone" as well as in the 1936 Alfred Hitchcock film "Sabotage."



Die Drei Kleinen Schweinchen und der Böse Wolf


Disney Parade 4


Paperino e Soci a Caccia di Guai

Laserdisc (CLV)


Disney Cartoon Festival 3
Disney Cartoon Festival Volume 4
Mountaineering Mickey


United States

Silly Symphonies


Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies


Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies


Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies

United Kingdom

Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies


Disney Treasures : Silly Symphonies

Netherlands / Belgium

Silly Symphonies


CAPSULES - Who Killed Cock Robin? by Michael Barrier

Technical Specifications

Running Time: 8:30
Animation Type: Standard (Hand-drawn-Cel) Animation
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Cinematographic Format: Spherical
Color Type: Technicolor
Negative Type: 35mm
Original Country: United States
Original Language: English
Print Type: 35mm
Sound Type: Mono: RCA Sound Recording

Reviews and Comments

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From Jerry Edwards :

I have never seen the uncensored version shown on the Disney Channel. Violence (police brutality) is also censored. I enjoy this unusual version of the classic rhyme with Jenny Wren as the caricature of Mae West. But Cupid's voice really irritates me with the high-pitched tone.

From Jeremy Fassler :

One of my favorite shorts. I like the parodies on Harpo Marx and Mae West. Jenny Wren should've been in more Silly Symphonies. The short hasn't been available to the public in a very long time, and for many years, it was considered lost.

From Ryan :

This is one of my favorite Silly Symphony shorts. I enjoy the animation and the background art as well as Jenny Wren's caricature of actress Mae West. There was another celebrity caricature: a crazy bird was drawn like one of the Marx Bros. The court scene is very funny for me, especially with some of the witnesses.

From Candy :

I loved this cartoon for its un-Disney-like violence. I have probably seen the edited version of it, but it still suggested some violence when the cops went into the bar and started hitting people on the head. I read somewhere that this cartoon was criticized by the censors of the time for being too violent. I especially liked the character of Jenny Wren, a bird version of Mae West. I read in Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life that Mae West actually wrote to Walt and told him that he did a good job of caricaturing her in this cartoon. Jenny Wren might have been one of the first really sexy Disney characters. She's drawn in a very sexy way. There's even a suggestion of cleavage. She walks very slowly and seductively, swinging her hips from side to side. She seems to come on to the Judge Owl in order to persuade him to hang all the birds that have been arrested.

Also, the Cupid Bird always seemed kind of gay to me. I knew it wasn't my imagination. The writer who submitted the article about this cartoon, Michael Barrier, said that this Cupid Bird was portrayed as gay. The bird is male, yet he acts very feminine. He stands in a feminine pose, with a hand on his hip. He giggles and talks with a lisp. It's amazing that that got in there. I was under the impression that Hollywood never portrayed gay characters in an obvious way during this time. And to think that Disney portrayed an obvious gay character in this cartoon. I've always wondered about that character, and another Disney person confirmed it for me; yeah, that bird is gay. There's a book about the gay community's relationship to the Disney Company; Tinker Belles and Evil Queens by Sean Griffin. I'm not trying to push any kind of agenda; I'm just throwing it out there for everyone's information.

From Sandra Schwartz :

I haven't seen Who Killed Cock Robin since I was a child but I have the most wonderful memories of it. I would like to rate it a 10. The drawings are really cute and adventurous. I loved the cartoon and I still do.

From Dino Cencia :

In the beginning, I thought that Cock Robin was dead, but he wasn't. I give this a 607.

From Baruch Weiss :

This is a very nice short. I enjoyed the character Jenny Wren. She made two more appearances: a cameo in Mickey's Polo Team and Toby Tortoise Returns.

From Matthew Cooper :

On the DVD I have, the police club-bashing and the stereotypes are still there so I have seen this short the original way it was made. My favorite thing about it is the characters (Jenny-Wren is sooooooooo Mae West,) I wonder if she posed for the Disney-Artists when they were drawing her caricature? I also like the trial scene (especially the song "We're Gonna Hang Em' All.) The only thing I don't like is that the jury members all look the same. Oh well, I guess that if they didn't, Disney would have spent too much time on making this cartoon.

From Gijs Grob :

Who Killed Cock Robin? is a musical mystery very loosely based on the nursery rhyme of the same name. Its source material notwithstanding Who Killed Cock Robin is the most adult Silly Symphony ever made. True to the Silly symphony concept, all characters either sing or speak in rhyme (with Jenny Wren's sensual blues as a highlight), but in a bare seven minutes the cartoon manages to mock the law, racialism and gay people, while displaying an unusual eroticism through Jenny Wren, who is a very fine caricature of famous Hollywood actress Mae West. These features are especially striking when one bears in mind that the Union Code was already active in 1935. Due to his self-censorship sex and violence were banned from the movies. To illustrate its effect: due to this code an erotic cartoon character as Betty Boop had to be tuned down and was turned into a goody-goody and quite a bland character. Yet, Who Killed Cock Robin displays its satire and eroticism in full glory.

When Cock Robin has been shot by a mysterious shadow, the Keystone Cop-like police randomly arrests some bystanders: a tough-looking guy, a black bird (blacks were easily arrested just because of their colour) and a cuckoo who resembles Harpo Marx. They're treated very roughly, being knocked by the cops almost all the time. And when Jenny exclaims that justice should be done, the judge simply orders to hang all verdicts even though nobody knows who's guilty! It's Cupid, an obvious caricature of a homosexual, who prevents this cruel sentence. Cock Robin appears to be alive, and finally he and Jenny Wren reunite in a hot kiss. Thus ends one of the most spectacular cartoons of the nineteen thirties.

From Condor :

Sort of like a Disney version of a whodunit with all the suspects and the happy ending because Robin's not really dead, just wounded. Great color and worth an award nomination.

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project :

Who Killed Cock Robin? is a delightful short, a fun play on detective stories and possibly even film noir, that manages to take the Disney style and use it in a new way. This is a nice change up for the Silly Symphonies.

If you’re familiar with the story of Cock Robin, this is not a lot like that. Here, Robin is serenading his lady love, Jenny Wren, when he is suddenly struck with an arrow. He falls from the branch he is in to the ground, and the entire town turns out to see his body.

What I love about this sequence is how it plays off of the tropes of detective films of the period. I’m a sucker for old movies, and have been watching on Turner Classic Movies for old film noir or detective films. Just like in those movies, here, the police show up and “round up the usual suspects” from a nearby bar, even though they were nowhere near Cock Robin.

Not only that, you have some stereotypical characters being rounded up, like the hard edged crook with the deep voice, the drunken lout and then a third bird that is a take off on Harpo Marx. The whole thing is very well done, and leads to the courtroom drama.

Again, this is a take off of courtroom dramas and detective films of the time. Here, an owl serves as a judge, while the jury is a chorus that enumerates the sins of the witnesses, who are interrogated by a parrot. The use of the parrot’s natural strut as an intimidation tactic for the witnesses is a fantastic touch.

Eventually, Jenny Wren shows up and demands justice. Jenny’s character is an obvious homage to Mae West, and she woos the entire courtroom instantly. The characterization of Jenny and the courtroom is hilarious, and really draws you into the short.

The big twist, because there always is one in courtroom dramas or detective stories, is that Cock Robin is not dead, but was shot by Cupid’s arrow, and fell on his head. He wakes up, kisses Jenny, and all is well.

I can’t say enough about how great a job the animators did in capturing the mood of a detective story here. From the opening titles in black and white, to the music that could have been silly but is instead played super serious, everything works together. You could call it a parody, but I would say it’s an homage. There is some serious work done here to make this feel real, not silly. Kudos to all those involved for pulling it off.

From Mac :

"We're gonna hang 'em all, We're gonna hang 'em all, We don't know who is guilty, so we're gonna hang 'em all!"

A rather dark cartoon, but set in a storybook woodland world we associate with the Silly Symphonies, I can't think of another Disney cartoon like this one. A little bit smarter and slightly more satirical than usual, I agree that this cartoon is a delight.

Another change happening in the Disney cartoons is the title cards. Recently most title cards have been pretty plain – coloured lettering on a grey background - but soon they'll all be handsomely illustrated works of art that carefully set the tone for the short that follows. The mysterious black and white titles with the hanging question mark, we see here, start the trend.