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
"This is my song...I can sing it tall and I can sing it long"
I remember seeing this the first time when I was attending public school in Queens in the early 1960s. It was shown as a treat to the students at an extended G.O. assembly. I had not seen it when it came out in 1958 (I was only four) but I recall seeing Disney's PETER PAN about that time, so I cannot understand missing this film.
It was a fun film. The trick animation (which won an Oscar) was particularly good in the sequence when the toys came to life. It was probably influential with similar scenes in BABES IN TOYLAND in 1960. However, BABES IN TOYLAND had the benefit of the Disney studio, not to mention a wonderful Victor Herbert score. The score of tom thumb was not very memorable, except for the song that I quoted above, which had some of the silliest lyrics I can recall.
The film was actually more interesting than I would have known as a child. Besides George Pal's style in the film and the trick animation, it was one of the last musical films that had a major role for Jessie Matthews as tom's mother. In the U.S. Ms Matthews is not too well recalled, but she was the leading female musical comedy star in England in the 1930s. Her husband here is Sir Bernard Miles, who is better remembered as the villain in Hitchcock's remake of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. The star was Russ Tamblyn, finally in a starring role - a step beyond his performances in THE LAST HUNT and SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS, and heading for his best performance in WEST SIDE STORY. The second lead, Alan Young, had already made ANDROCLES AND THE LION and AARON SLICK FROM PUNKIN CREEK, and (as he was here working with George Pal) would have his dramatically best role (or roles) in Pal's future masterwork THE TIME MACHINE. Young would also soon gain television immortality as "Wilbur Post" the friend of the talking horse MR. ED.
This film was one of the pairings of Terry-Thomas and Peter Sellers in a comedy. As Tony and Ivan they are the greedy thieves who use tom to rob the town treasury, only to turn on each other in a fight that enables tom to trip them up. Terry-Thomas has a sharpened nose in his makeup, which is accentuated by his sharp crowned hat. Sellers in particular had interesting make-up in this film, fattened up to look particularly threatening in a greasy sort of way, and wearing a small derby hat. He has the best line in the film. When tom (still unaware of what crooks he is with) is inside the town treasury Tony/Terry-Thomas tells him to pass over a bag of gold. Which one, asks tom. "THE BIGGEST ONE!", shouts Ivan/Peter.
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