Pinocchio has been a real boy for a year. So his creator, Geppetto makes him a cake to celebrate. After a visit from the Pinocchio's Fairy Godmother (who had turned Pinocchio into a real boy), Geppetto realizes that he must deliver a precious Jewel box to the Mayor. Pinocchio persuades Geppetto to allow to take the box and makes his way to the Mayor's house. Pinocchio also takes with him his hand-make glow worm, which magically becomes real when Pincoccho gets distracted by a Carnival that has come to town. Pinocchio names his glow worm Willikers and decides to take a peek at the Carnival, despite Geppetto telling him not to go anywhere near it. Nearby, Scalawag and his colleague Igor advertise a three-shell game which cheats people out of their money, leading to Scalawag's and Igor's escape by using a cannon to get away from the angry mob. Scalawag meets Pinocchio and trades the Jewel box a ruby, which turns out to be a fake when Pinocchio gets home, which angers Geppetto. Pinocchio ... Written by
The Waltzing Walkman
Shirley Jones, the actress well known for playing the mother on The Partridge Family (1970) (among many others projects) originally played the Fairy Godmother. Partway through recording she pulled out of the project. Due to her departure mid-production, there was a rush to find a new voice for the character. After several actresses/singers turned down the role, pop singer Ricky Lee Jones took the role. See more »
Scalawag does not move at all when we see him from the back as he tells Pinnochio that if the only puppet, who was ever real was to give up or lose it's freedom, something terrible would happen to the Good Fairy. See more »
Don't be put off by those who would label this little gem a Disney ripoff. In a time when very few animated features were being produced, Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night is a surprisingly nice little animated film. From the opening moments, you can see that this was intended to be something special. There is some great animation, such as the ending on the Emperor of the Night's ship. There are some dark, genuinely frightening moments such as James Earl Jones as the titular Emperor and his macabre carnival, or a scene which has Pinocchio transformed back into a lifeless puppet. There are comical moments with Gee Willikers the wooden glowbug and Grumblebee. There are also bizarre, surreal scenes, notably a sequence where Pinocchio is tempted in a dream-like land by the Emperor and his minions. The song in this scene, "The Neon Cabaret", is jazzy and upbeat, and it enhances strange mood. Don Knotts, James Earl Jones, Ed Asner, and Jonathan Harris all give wonderful voice performances to their respective characters. Rickie Lee Jones as the Fairy Godmother tends to grate though.
The overall impression is that of a very ambitious production. The film moves along at a good pace and boils to a great climactic finish. Definitely worth a look!
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