Banjo the Woodpile Cat is a 1979 classicaly animated 27-minute short film directed by Don Bluth and the film itself follows the story of Banjo, an overly curious but rebellious kitten who, after getting into trouble for falling from a chicken coop to see if he could land on his feet, runs away from his woodpile home in his owners' farm in Payson, Utah by hitching a ride on the Chipman feed truck to Salt Lake City, Utah. The short film took four years (from 1975 to 1979) to produce inside a backyard garage at Bluth's former home in Ventura, California (before Don started "Don Bluth Films" and lived at his current home in Scottsdale, Arizona) and it was Sullivan Bluth Studios' debut film. It had a short theatrical run in November 1979, appearing as a short in front of "The Muppet Movie" (currently wwned by Walt Disney Pictures after Jim Henson signed Disney's Contract to have his self-named company owned by The Walt Disney Company since 1988) theaters showing the film for a holiday re-release in the Los Angeles area.), tested in 1980 as a TV short on Home Box Office then reached network television on several "ABC-TV" Stations across the United States of America in 1982. (Same year when Don Bluth's first animated independent feature Film after leaving Walt Disney Productions in September 1978, titled "The Secret of NIMH", with distribution guaranteed by MGM/UA Communications Inc.) Also, as of March 20, 2019, the short, along with a handful of Bluth’s works, including Thumbelina, A Troll in Central Park, Anastasia, Bartok the Magnificent, and Titan A.E., as a result of the Disney-Fox merger, the distribution rights will belong to Disney.
In a woodpile in 1940s Payson, Utah, a kitten named Banjo decides to chase chickens around. His sisters, Emily and Jean, who see this, tell their parents and Banjo's father soon stops him and makes him promise not to do it again. But Banjo continues to be mischievous in many ways. Eventually, after failing to goad His sisters to jump off the chicken coop, just to prove that cats always land on their feet, Banjo pulls His sisters’ tails downward to the ground, of course, they were unharmed, since the snow was soft enough to break their fall. Soon, Banjo’s father orders Him to get a switch within a minute. Banjo, realizing no one cares if He got hurt, and not wanting to face serious punishment from His father, decides to run away from home and hitches a ride on a feed truck to Salt Lake City.
Arriving at the city, Banjo finds plenty of excitement, followed by a series of danger. When it begins to rain, he finds shelter in a small can in an alley while thinking about his family and how he misses them. Later, a cat named Crazy Legs discovers the lost kitten in the can. They strike up a friendship when Crazy tells Banjo that he can go back the same way he got here. During their search, Crazy and Banjo come to a night club that Crazy is familiar with. Inside, the leader of a singing cat trio, Zazu comes over to Crazy and meets Banjo. When asked if he misses his family, the kitten becomes depressed again. To cheer him up, Crazy and the girls break into a musical number and Banjo joins in. Afterwards, Crazy asks all the cats in the city to look for the truck. Later that night, while searching for the truck, Banjo and Crazy run into a group of dogs who end up chasing them. After a lengthy chase, the pair escape and drive the dogs away by climbing up a series of boxes. Later that night, as Banjo was resting up at the singing cats' home, Crazy looks at the night sky, wondering if Banjo will go home.
The next morning, Banjo wakes up and hears the driver of the truck out in the street. After some rejoice and many goodbyes, Banjo is sad to leave his new found friends. However, Crazy manages to get Banjo on board, before it leaves without him and he waves goodbye to His new friends. When the truck arrives home, Banjo leaps off it and happily reunites with his family.
This film was started as a side project, while Don Bluth was still working at Disney. He invited several other young animators to his house on nights and weekends to discover secrets of animation that he felt had been lost at Disney. Eventually, on Bluth's 42nd Birthday, he resigned from Disney, along with 17 other animators, to finish this film and begin The Secret of NIMH. That bold walk-out caused a delay in the release of Disney's The Fox and the Hound that was in mid-production at the time.
- SPARKY MARCUS as Banjo the Woodpile Cat
- SCATMAN CROTHERS as Crazy Legs
- BEAH RICHARDS as Zazu (The Leader of The Cat Sisters (Her 2 Sisters are Cleo and Marina))
- JERRY HARPER as Papa Cat (Banjo's Father) / Freeman (Feed Truck Driver)
- KEN SANSOM as Farmer / Warehouse Man
- ANN E. BEASLEY as Jean
- ROBIN MUIR as Emily
- GEORGETTE RAMPONE as Mama Cat (Banjo’s Mother) / Cleo
- FRANK WELKER as the Dogs
- Director: DON BLUTH
- Producers: DON BLUTH with JOHN POMEROY and GARY GOLDMAN
- Character Animation: DON BLUTH, JOHN POMEROY, GARY GOLDMAN and
- Assistant Animator: SKIP JONES
- Additional Animators and Assistant Animators: LORNA COOK-POMEROY, HEIDI GUEDEL, LINDA MILLER, EMILY JUILIANO, DAVE SPAFFORD and SALLY VOORHEIS, DIANN LANDAU and VERA LAW
- Music Conductor and Arrangement: ROBERT F. BRUNNER
- Orchestra Manager: MICHAEL DVORAK
- Additional Orchestrator: BOBBY HAMMACK)
- Film Editing: SAM HORTA
- Sound: RYDER SOUND SERVICES
- Special Thanks To: DAN MOLINA and NANCY BARNES, JOAN BARNES and DAVE MOLINA, JANET BRUCE and WILL FINN, JOE JUILIANO, DAN KUENSTER and CINDY CHILKO, SUE EVANS and JEFFRY PATCH, DAVE SMITH and JULIE SPAFFORD, SHIRLEY SPAFFORD and DAVE PETTIJOHN, CHARLES G. WILSON and ANNE NEALE, OLGA CRAIG, and JAMES MacDONALD, CHUCK WARREN and EDNA HARTLING, SARAH KING and MEL GRIFFIN, MARY BURNEY and CARMEN OLIVER, MIRIAM C. McKINNEY and CAROLINE PFOUTS, CARALYN WARREN and ELLEN DAVIS, CATHY DREYFUS and JERI VAN OSTEN
- Produced by DON BLUTH PRODUCTIONS INC.
- Distributed by COLUMBIA PICTURES
- Color by TECHNICOLOR
- Writers: DON and TOBY BLUTH
- Assitant Director: JEFFREY C. PATCH
- Character Animation: PHIL NIBBELINK
- Xerographic Process Operator: JOHN EDDINGS
- Xerox Checker and Cel Inker: DARYL CARTENSEN
- Assistant Xerox Checker and Assistant Cel Inker: JOHN POMEROY
- Cel Painter: TINA PRICE - NOTE: The Other Cel Painters are Listed in the "Special Thanks To..." Section of the Credits)
- Animation Camera Operator: ROB MAINE
- Packaging Agent: STEPHEN L. PINKS
- Animation Camera Stand Engineering: FAX-RICHARDSON ANIMATION COMPANY INC.
- Classical Animation Equipment Suppliers: FAX-RICHARDSON ANIMATION COMPANY INC., CARTOON COLOUR COMPANY INC. and ART COLOR PRODUCTS
- Film Editing Equipment Suppliers: MOVIOLA INC.
- Prints by DE LUXE
- Produced on EASTMAN KODAK MOTION PICTURE FILM
- This is one of a few Don Bluth productions that used Hanna-Barbera sound effects; others include Bartok the Magnificent.
- The part where Banjo bites the tails of His sisters is cut from the final version, a cel from said scene is available.
- Right before Banjo and His sisters land in the snow, Emily and Jean’s neck ribbons were missing.