Gulliver Travels To Blu-Ray
|Gulliver's Travels Blu-Ray Cover Art As Designed by Stewart McKissick|
Another Thunderbean Treasure Chest Of Animation
A forty year drought has ended. Gulliver's Travels is here with Blu-Ray presentation second to none since the animated feature last played to kid matinee audiences in the 70's. That's a latest sighting I know of, then-exhibitor Mike Cline informing me of Gulliver dates his theatre booked over the fifteen year period after a last reissue in 1958. Those 35mm prints were on IB Technicolor stock, several survivors of which were used by Thunderbean's Steve Stanchfield to render this definitive Blu-Ray. The just-out release is also a first home video venture for Greenbriar Picture Shows, in association with Thunderbean on this and an upcoming animation release. Experts Ray Pointer, G. Michael Dobbs, and Chris Buchman have contributed essays for a booklet accompanying the Blu-Ray, which also includes Greenbriar on Gulliver's 1939 release and reception. There are eight Max Fleischer cartoons in addition to the feature, plus oodles of extras. My screener arrived just yesterday and it's a marvel.
The bane of Gulliver's Travels has long been Public Domain status and damage exploiters did when cut-rating the Fleischer favorite on formats ranging from 8/16mm film to emerging VHS, then laserdisc, and later DVD. Many of these promised the moon in terms of quality, but none delivered. From mid-70's plummet to PD swamp, Gulliver's Travels sunk ever deeper till color/clarity of the 1939 original seemed but a memory exclusive to those on hand for first-runs or catch-up to 35mm prints in circulation from the 1958 revival. Anything we got at home, on television or collecting basis, was strictly birdseed. No one stood Gulliver-guard against ravage of time or scavenging, this not untypical of how mice scatter once an oldie goes PD. Who's to stop rats, after all, from copying your work for gravy anyone can scoop off retail counters? (see supermarket and flea market bins for glut of Gulliver nationwide)
This was hardly fate foreseen by
There are those who've spent lifetimes collecting Disney tie-ins. I'd like to meet one to have done similar gather of Gulliver goods. Some are among extras illustrated in Thunderbean's Blu-Ray. But where are one of those music boxes that played from Gulliver's soundtrack? It was manufactured by the Wira Company, and looks sturdy, and not a little costly. How many sold that year? And more to point, do any survive? Never mind the "beautiful, hand-painted Berique pottery lamps" designed after likeness of Gulliver characters. These, I guess, were junked before
Paramount looked also to hit-making of its Gulliver soundtrack. Known then, but part-forgotten since, was just how much music had to do with success of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. Virtually all of its songbook made Hit Parade. We still know the tunes partly for Disney's continued exploit, but of Gulliver's Travels, there seems but one of the "Eight New Hits" that rings current bells, at least for me, that being It's A Hap, Hap, Happy Day, itself reprised, as were others of Gulliver origin, for follow-up Fleischer cartoons with town-crier Gabby, two of which are included in the Thunderbean disc. One advantage Gulliver's Travels had was literary pedigree, being based, of course, on Jonathan Swift's "Classic Of Classics." This gave
Coming Tomorrow: Stewart McKissick on designing cover art for the Gulliver's Travels Blu-Ray.