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Gulliver washes ashore on Lilliput and attempts to prevent war between that tiny kingdom and its equally-miniscule rival, Blefiscu, as well as smooth the way for the romance between the Princess and Prince of the opposing lands. In this he is alternately aided and hampered by the Lilliputian town crier and general fussbudget, Gabby. A life-threatening situation develops when the bumbling trio of Blefiscu spies, Sneak, Snoop, and Snitch, manage to steal Gulliver's pistol. Written by
Paul Penna <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Shipwrecked by a storm in 1699, Dr. Lemuel GULLIVER'S TRAVELS would bring him to a strange island inhabited by tiny little people.
While not one of the great animated features (it was only the second released in the United States, Disney's SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN Dwarfs in 1937 being the first) GULLIVER'S TRAVELS is an enjoyable film which should bring pleasure to uncritical viewers. Technically it is well made, with Technicolor animation of a generally high quality. The movie's main drawback is that none of the characters really have any 'heart' - they don't come alive on the screen in the way Jiminy Cricket would a year later in PINOCCHIO.
However, it is ultimately unfair to compare the Fleischer Studio output with that of Disney. Max & Dave Fleischer had their own star to follow; their contribution - and it would be a considerable one - would be in the realm of the one-reel cartoon. With their POPEYE and BETTY BOOP series they created alternate realities as viable as any produced by other cartoon studios. GULLIVER was their first foray into feature length animation (HOPPITY GOES TO TOWN would be their second in 1941), and eventually they would expend their energies again on the cartoon short subject, including the highly acclaimed SUPERMAN series which would commence in 1941.
GULLIVER'S TRAVELS is of course based on the classic novel by Jonathan Swift (with a little nod to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet) focusing only on the section dealing with the minuscule kingdoms of Lilliput and Blefuscu. In place of Swift's irony is a great deal of slapstick, but such is the nature of the animated cartoon. The personalities of the royal youngsters, one from each of the rival nations, is left completely unexplored and their romantics is at the expense of more screen time with Gulliver, as are the exploits of the three incompetent Blefuscu spies. The film's main character is actually night watchman Gabby, who isn't very appealing (yet not too repellent to spawn a few further cartoons featuring his exploits). The film is at its best when it de-emphasizes plot for the visuals, as in the binding & transportation of the giant, or when the rotoscoped Gulliver tows the entire hostile fleet from Blefuscu up onto the beach by the ships' anchor chains.
Jack Mercer, famous as the voice of Popeye, here speaks for silly King Little. Pinto Colvig (best known as the original voice of Disney's Goofy) provides the vocals for Gabby. Gulliver is voiced by Sam Parker, while Jessica Dragonette & Lanny Ross sing for Princess Glory and Prince David.
The film has some pleasant songs including 'All's Well' and the Oscar nominated 'It's A Hap Hap Happy Day.' The two national anthems, 'Faithful' & 'Forever,' are fine romantic tunes which deserve to be rediscovered.
It is unfortunate that the Fleischers' remarkable Stereoptical Process, which could produce beautiful 3-D effects, is only glimpsed for a few moments during the opening credits.
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