4 user 2 critic

Pete Roleum and His Cousins (1939)

Approved | | Animation, Short, Family | 15 May 1939 (USA)
Pete illustrates the many uses of oil in daily life, showing that the world depends on it.


Joseph Losey


Joseph Losey (scenario), Kenneth White (dialogue)




Credited cast:
Charles R. Bowers ... Narrator (voice)


This 25-minute short (original running time at the 1939 World's Fair and in its theatrical bookings) was made by Petroleum Industry to be primarily at the NYC 1939 World's Fair, but was also available to theatres. Basically, a commercial but many theatres booked it since it was free, in Technicolor and was better than the majority of the 1939 shorts. The reason some people think there is gaps in the narration is because the original had two different interlocking sound tracks, one on the screen, representing the voices of the screen characters, and another in the rear of the auditorium, with the taunts and wise-cracks of an off-screen heckler. The DVD that exists is not only missing nine minutes of footage, it is also missing the second sound track. The story is a phantasy of the oil industry, employing 40 different characters. The story utilizes animated puppets in a, at the time, new way. The puppets were four inches high, had faces and bodies shaped like oil drops. They had ... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


This film was made to be shown in the Standard Oil exhibit at the at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Showings were accompanied by narration delivered "live" that would match the pre-recorded narration in the film, so that the stage narrator would ask a question answered by the screen narrator, and vice versa. Seen today, without the live narration, the film makes little sense. See more »


Something for You to Sing
Music by Oscar Levant
Lyrics by Kenneth White
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User Reviews

A Colorful & Unusual Feature
23 February 2005 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

This is an interesting and colorful animated feature in which Charley Bowers used his unique ideas and talents to promote an awareness of the significance of oil in contemporary society. It's a very unusual combination, and while there's no telling how much it may or may not have helped the popularity of the oil industry in its day, the eccentric approach makes it a whole lot more interesting and entertaining than a conventional promotional piece would have been.

Most of it stars a group of little animated oil droplets, and they find themselves engaged in quite a variety of activities. There is also quite an assortment of settings and other material, and the segments include everything from chorus-line style musical numbers to dramatized didactic explanations to a Dali-style landscape sequence and other bizarre scenery, and much else. Some of it is just weird (although portions of it may have been less incomprehensible when accompanied by the live narration that originally went with it), but some of it is quite entertaining, and almost all of it is interesting.

The result is in some ways hard to describe, but it is certainly unusual, and at least for anyone who enjoys unusual film-makers like Charley Bowers, this feature has more than enough offbeat visual effects, odd characters, and the like to make it worth seeing.

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Release Date:

15 May 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Oil Can and Does See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA High Fidelity Photophone System)| 3 Channel Stereo


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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