37 user 11 critic

Tom Thumb (1958)

Follows a boy, no bigger than a thumb, who manages to outwit two thieves determined to make a fortune from him.


George Pal


Ladislas Fodor (screenplay), Jacob Grimm (based on a story from the pen of) (as the Brothers Grimm) | 1 more credit »

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Russ Tamblyn ... Tom Thumb
Alan Young ... The Lover: Woody
June Thorburn ... The Lover: Forest Queen
Terry-Thomas ... The Villain: Ivan
Peter Sellers ... The Villain: Antony
Bernard Miles ... The Parent: Jonathan
Jessie Matthews ... The Parent: Anne
Ian Wallace Ian Wallace ... The Cobbler
Peter Butterworth Peter Butterworth ... Kapellmeister
Peter Bull ... Town Crier
Stan Freberg ... Yawning Man (voice)
Dal McKennon Dal McKennon ... Con-Fu-Shon (voice)


In a mythical land, woodcutter Jonathan agrees not to chop down the oldest tree in the forest in return for three wishes granted by the Forest Queen. After he wastes two wishes bickering with his wife, the third brings them Tom, a thumb-sized child. The couple dote upon him, but are unable to protect him when, on his way to the village, the innocent Tom falls in with villainous Ivan and Tony. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Wonderful Musical Adventure See more »


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

24 December 1958 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

El pequeño gigante See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Eastmancolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


"The Yawning Man" puppet was later used as one of the elves in 'The Cobbler and the Elves' sequence from the Pal feature The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962). See more »


When Ivan and Antony abandon tom thumb to the Black Swamp, the characters, seen from the rear, are clearly played by different, much younger men. See more »


Ivan: There are two crooks here - and both of them are you!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits are shown on the pages of a book, which a male hand is turning. The first couple we see are shown through a magnifying glass, a reference to Tom Thumb's size. See more »


Referenced in The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962) See more »


The Yawning Song
Music by Fred Spielman
Lyrics by Kermit Goell
Sung by Stan Freberg
See more »

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User Reviews

Lightweight Fare That's Fun for the Whole Family
6 November 2003 | by RJVSee all my reviews

If you have children and want to entertain them and yourself with a film, TOM THUMB is acceptable entertainment. Producer/director George Pal creates a quaint, vivid fairy tale world with bright colors, picturesque scenery and Tyrolean costumes. The stop motion animated singing and talking toys who befriend the titular tiny boy (Russ Tamblyn), are beautifully realized and smoothly co-exist with the live action Tamblyn. The songs are pleasant and hummable. Particularly memorable is "The Yawning Song," drowsily warbled by the voice of Stan Freberg as a sleepy toy. Russ Tamblyn is appealing in the title role and Terry-Thomas and Peter Sellers as, respectively, the conniving Ivan and his eager confederate Tony practically steal the film with their comic shenanigans. Sellers is particularly impressive, giving the standard dim-witted accomplice part a creepily animalistic shading.

But although TOM THUMB is enjoyable, it doesn't rank with such outstanding family films like THE WIZARD OF OZ and Walt Disney's PINOCCHIO. What mainly prevents TOM THUMB from achieving greatness is Ladislas Fodor's slight scenario. In the best family films, the protagonists have important goals. For instance in THE WIZARD OF OZ Dorothy has to find a way back from Oz and in PINOCCHIO the titular puppet must learn to distinguish between right and wrong in order to become a real boy. In contrast, Tom Thumb's mission- to prove his parents (Bernard Miles, Jessie Matthews) did not steal the town's treasury by exposing the real thieves, Ivan and Tony-seems inconsequential. Compared to the scheme of, say, the Wicked Witch of the West to obtain Dorothy's ruby slippers in order to obtain supremacy in Oz, Ivan and Tony's plan is very pedestrian. The fate of the parents if they're not cleared- a public whipping- is certainly bad but much milder than say the fate of Pinocchio, Geppetto, and their pets if they can't escape from Monstro the whale- eternal imprisonment.

Then there is the romantic subplot between a local musician Woody (Alan Young) and the immortal Fairy Queen (June Thorburn). Woody wants to kiss the Fairy Queen so she can become a mortal as well as his wife, but the Fairy Queen warns him he should prove himself responsible before he can marry her. Pal handles the scenario in such a fluffy manner, however, that there is little conflict or feeling in this subplot. And while the animated segments are delightful, they hardly contribute to the plot.

But considering the glut of dreadful films trying to pass off as family entertainment, one should be grateful that TOM THUMB succeeds in its modest goal of entertaining viewers. Although the film is not extraordinary, it does emanate a storybook charm without succumbing to cloyingness. And Terry-Thomas and Peter Sellers are a memorable pair- a kind of malevolent Laurel and Hardy.

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