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John Henry and the Inky-Poo (1946)

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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

Electrifying Puppetoon
21 June 2001 | by (Atlanta, Georgia) – See all my reviews

The GREAT George pal reached his zenith with this stunning post-war short-subject Puppetoon based on the popular negro spiritual/fable. Although the african-american characters are so broadly drawn they could incite scorn, the sheer brilliance and fidelity of the animators to this moody tall-tale allow its acceptance. The intricacy of Pal's detail was never more evident, as he fills the screen with explosive color and propels this story of a 62 inch tall infant who grows to symbolize the limitations of man in an expanding industrial world and is allowed to be heroic in his martyrdom, sadly foreshadowing some of the leaders of the civil rights movement two short decades after this was released. One of the most terrifying shots in film history comes as John Henry's mother pushes away the crowd, screaming, and announces to the world that her son is dead, a victim of the Inky-Poo. Should be required viewing for all the worlds children and its message may be more apropos today than in 1946. A total gem.

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