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John Henry and the Inky-Poo (1946)

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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 93 users  
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In this George Pal Puppetoon (production number U5-6), John Henry (voice of Rex Ingram), legendary figure of American folklore, goes to work for the C.& O. Railroad, which, shortly ... See full summary »


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Title: John Henry and the Inky-Poo (1946)

John Henry and the Inky-Poo (1946) on IMDb 6.9/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


Cast overview:
Narrator / John Henry (voice)


In this George Pal Puppetoon (production number U5-6), John Henry (voice of Rex Ingram), legendary figure of American folklore, goes to work for the C.& O. Railroad, which, shortly thereafter, buys an automatic steel-driving engine, called the Inky-Poo. John Henry matches his strength against the Inky-Poo, saying that any man can beat a machine because a man has a mind. John Henry wins, but drops at the finish, never to rise again. The choral music background is by the Luvenia Nash Singers. Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Animation | Short





Release Date:

6 September 1946 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


At George Pal's insistence, all the singers and voice-over artists were African-American. See more »


John Henry: My name's John Henry, woman!
John Henry's Mother: Pleased to know you, son! I's your ma!
See more »


Featured in The Puppetoon Movie (1987) See more »

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User Reviews

JOHN HENRY AND THE INKY-POO {Short} (George Pal, 1946) ***
4 February 2014 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

This is yet another black-themed and Oscar-nominated "Puppetoon": the premise involves a child who grows to adulthood – and gigantic size – in a matter of days! It does present a stereotyped view of the black community (the mother tells her boy "I is your maw" and railroad workers repeatedly mispronounce the word "engine"), but the mythic quality of the narrative makes up for this. The hero enthusiastically joins in the railway construction but, before long, the company decides to replace the labour force with a pressurized machine (the "Inky-Poo" of the title). He, however, is not about to give in so easily and challenges the contraption to a duel of strength. Using two hammers at once to lay the tracks at double the normal speed, he manages to win the contest against all odds…but this extraordinary effort puts a toll on John Henry's heart, who drops dead soon after from exhaustion! The 'boy' is thereafter revered by his people as an icon.

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