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Philbert (Three's a Crowd) (1963)

Approved | | Short, Comedy, Animation | April 1963 (USA)
Pilot for a TV series staring William Schallert as cartoonist Griff and his cartoon Philbert, that comes to life.

Director:

(as Richard D. Donner)

Writers:

(story), (screenplay) (as Richard DeRoy) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Griff M.
...
Angela
Trustin Howard ...
Philbert (voice)
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Storyline

Pilot for a TV series staring William Schallert as cartoonist Griff and his cartoon Philbert, that comes to life.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Approved
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

April 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Philbert  »

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Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As with Adventures of the Road-Runner (1962), this was an unsold television pilot for ABC that ended up in theaters as a theatrical short. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Toonheads: The Lost Cartoons (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

As Time Goes By
Music by Herman Hupfeld
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User Reviews

Philbert isn't nutty enough
9 May 2002 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

Inspired by the success of Hanna-Barbera's "Flintstones", the Warner Brothers animation studio tried to come up with their own prime-time TV cartoon series ... this time combining animation with live-action. "Philbert" gets credit for an unusual idea, but it's poorly executed and fails to be funny. Only one episode of "Philbert" was ever produced: a black-and-white pilot titled "Three's a Crowd". This was shown to potential sponsors who, wisely, decided not to underwrite the project.

William Schallert plays Griff, a successful cartoonist whose studio is in the living room of his very nice house. At some point in the past, Griff drew a cartoon of a wise-cracking little man about six inches high, named Philbert (voice credited to somebody named Trust Howard). Somehow, Philbert developed a mind of his own, and a life independent of the easel. Philbert considers himself Griff's partner and buddy, running all over Griff's house and doing just as he pleases. (The entire show is live-action except for Philbert.) Griff doesn't seem surprised that one of his creations is alive, and we never find out HOW Philbert came to life ... or if Griff can repeat the trick by making other drawings come alive too. Griff and Philbert are already living together before the show starts. Nobody else knows that Philbert exists, even though Philbert is a natural "ham" who would probably enjoy attracting other people's attention.

In the pilot episode "Three's a Crowd", Griff's neighbour Angela (played by Joanna Barnes) shows some romantic interest in Griff. This makes Philbert panic, fearing that his own existence will be threatened if Griff develops any interest in a "dame". Philbert makes every effort to break up the friendship between Griff and Angela without revealing his own existence. (Would Angela have become an ongoing character if "Philbert" became a series? Who knows or cares?)

Based on this pilot episode, "Philbert" is one more tired rehash of the old "buddy" plot, in which one guy decides he must "save" another guy from female entanglements. Even worse, if "Philbert" had been picked up as a TV series, it would have been just one more variation of the "nobody knows my secret" sitcom, depicting the travails of some suburban schlub who spends all his time trying to conceal the fact that his room-mate is a Martian, or his wife is a witch, or his horse can talk, or his car is his mother.

As drawn by under-rated animator Isidore "Fritz" Freleng, Philbert looks and acts like a cartoon version of Johnny Carson. He's a slim, well-dressed guy who seems a little too pleased with his own cleverness. Except for a brief scene underwater, the cartoon character Philbert doesn't do anything which couldn't have been done better by a live-action actor shrunk to miniature size in a matte screen effect. Unlike Roger Rabbit, Philbert doesn't have any of the "toony" talents of a living cartoon character. Philbert's animation is unimpressive, except for the opening credit sequence in which he does a snappy dance. William Schallert has a long and interesting acting career: back in the 1950s he was appearing in stage plays directed by Charlie Chaplin, and he eventually became president of the Screen Actors Guild. But Schallert probably keeps "Philbert" off his CV. This one-off TV show isn't worth your time.


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