tom thumb (1958)

92, 95 or 98 mins | Fantasy, Musical | December 1958

Director:

George Pal

Writer:

Ladislaus Fodor

Cinematographer:

Georges Perinal

Editor:

Frank Clarke

Production Designer:

Elliot Scott

Production Company:

Galaxy Pictures, Ltd.
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HISTORY

The literary source credit card reads: "Based on a story from the pen of the Brothers Grimm." German writers Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm created their tale, “Daumesdick,” around a well-known European folk character. An earlier use of the tiny man known as "tom thumb" was in the late 17th century fairy tale in French author Charles Perrault's collection Tales of Times Past: or Mother Goose Tales (Paris, 1697).
       The film differed somewhat from the popular Grimm's fairy tale,which featured tom convincing his father to sell him to two traveling men in order to have adventures. Tom experiences hiding in a hole with a mouse, being swallowed by a cow and later a wolf, yet he returns home safely. The Perrault story also took liberties with the original tale, featuring an Ogre that terrorized tom's family. In that story, tom was the youngest of seven children.
       A Jun 1957 HR news item stated that, in addition to Peggy Lee, Fred Spielman and Janice Torre, songs for tom thumb would be written by Dave Barbour. In Aug 1957, another HR item added songwriters Clarence Wheeler and Irving Bibo, but their contribution, if any, to the released film has not been confirmed. Principal photography took place in England at M-G-M's British Studios in Boreham Wood, Elstree. HR news items revealed that producer-director George Pal and several members of the production also shot a portion of the film in Endhoven, Holland in Dec 1957. According to HR in May 1958, Pal photographed background shots in Mexico. As noted in an ... More Less

The literary source credit card reads: "Based on a story from the pen of the Brothers Grimm." German writers Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm created their tale, “Daumesdick,” around a well-known European folk character. An earlier use of the tiny man known as "tom thumb" was in the late 17th century fairy tale in French author Charles Perrault's collection Tales of Times Past: or Mother Goose Tales (Paris, 1697).
       The film differed somewhat from the popular Grimm's fairy tale,which featured tom convincing his father to sell him to two traveling men in order to have adventures. Tom experiences hiding in a hole with a mouse, being swallowed by a cow and later a wolf, yet he returns home safely. The Perrault story also took liberties with the original tale, featuring an Ogre that terrorized tom's family. In that story, tom was the youngest of seven children.
       A Jun 1957 HR news item stated that, in addition to Peggy Lee, Fred Spielman and Janice Torre, songs for tom thumb would be written by Dave Barbour. In Aug 1957, another HR item added songwriters Clarence Wheeler and Irving Bibo, but their contribution, if any, to the released film has not been confirmed. Principal photography took place in England at M-G-M's British Studios in Boreham Wood, Elstree. HR news items revealed that producer-director George Pal and several members of the production also shot a portion of the film in Endhoven, Holland in Dec 1957. According to HR in May 1958, Pal photographed background shots in Mexico. As noted in an LAT article, tom thumb marked the return to the screen, after a fifteen-year absence, of British music hall star Jessie Matthews. Her previous film appearance was in the 1944 British production, Candles at Nine . Following tom thumb , Matthews did not make another film until 1977 when she appeared in The Hound of the Baskervilles . The LAT article also credited Matthews as singing the film's title song, but the music played over the opening and closing titles is instrumental. tom thumb marked the American film debut for famed British comedian Peter Sellers (1925--1980), who had previously acted in several British films.
       HR casting lists added the following: Zack Matalon, Terry Skelton, Ann Delaney, Ann Lascelles, Peter Perkins, Tutte Lemkow, Ian Wilson and Sheldon Lovely, but their appearance in the finished film has not been confirmed. tom thumb won an Academy Award for Special Effects. Several films, both feature length, shorts and animated shorts feature the character of "tom thumb," including two French films from Pathé Freres, one released in 1906 and another in 1909. A Jul 1958 DV article noted that Mexico's Clasa Film Mundiales produced a film version of the Perrault fairy tale, Pulgarcito . That film was released in 1958 in foreign markets, but was not distributed in the U.S. until 1967. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
1 Dec 1958.
---
Box Office
8 Dec 1958.
---
Daily Variety
25 Jul 1958.
---
Daily Variety
28 Nov 58
p. 3.
Film Daily
28 Nov 58
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 1957
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Aug 1957
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Oct 1957
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Nov 1957
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 1957
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 1957
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Dec 1957
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Dec 1957
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Dec 1957
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 1958
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 1958
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 1958
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
7 May 1958
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
19 May 1958
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Oct 1958
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Nov 58
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
9 Jun 1958.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
29 Nov 58
p. 68.
New York Times
24 Dec 58.
---
Variety
3 Dec 58
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A George Pal Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus score
Mus score
SOUND
Rec supv
Sd spec eff
VISUAL EFFECTS
Photog eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
Puppet voice dubbing
ANIMATION
Anim
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the fairy tale "Daumesdick (Thumbling)" in Kinder und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales) collected by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm (Germany, 1812--15).
SONGS
"After All These Years," "This Is My Song," "The Talented Shoes," "The Yawning Song," and "Are You a Dream?" music and lyrics by Peggy Lee, Fred Spielman, Janice Torre and Kermit Goell.
DETAILS
Release Date:
December 1958
Premiere Information:
World premiere in London, England: 27 November 1958
Production Date:
mid October 1957--mid February 1958 at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Boreham Wood, Elstree, England
Copyright Claimant:
Galaxy Pictures, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
10 November 1958
Copyright Number:
LP13237
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Eastman Color
Widescreen/ratio
Metroscope
With animated sequences
Duration(in mins):
92, 95 or 98
Length(in feet):
8,290
Length(in reels):
10
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18918
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Long ago, near a small village by a stream surrounded by a large forest, honest Jonathan cuts firewood for the villagers. One day while chopping a large oak, the Forest Queen appears to Jonathan to plead with him to spare the tree, the oldest and fairest in the forest. Reluctantly, Jonathan agrees and in gratitude, the Queen offers him three wishes, cautioning him to consider carefully as the wishes will affect his wife Anna as well. When Jonathan expresses skepticism about the Queen’s offer, she vanishes. Frightened, Jonathan returns home with his burro Charlie. At home, Anna doubts Jonathan’s story until he wishes his dull cabbage meal would change into a hearty sausage. After the cabbage turns into a sausage, Anna wishes the sausage onto her husband’s nose for his silliness, but then frets that they have wasted two of their wishes. Jonathan spends the third wish regaining his real nose and he and Anna realize they have lost their wishes. On their way to bed, the couple pause at the empty, toy-filled nursery to lament their lack of children. Anna declares that she would love any child, even if it were no bigger than her thumb and Jonathan assures her there is still time for children. At the stroke of midnight, Jonathan and Anna are awakened by a knock at their front door. Investigating, Jonathan discovers a tiny boy, no bigger than his thumb, who declares that he is Jonathan and Anna’s son. Realizing that the kind Forest Queen has granted their deepest wish, Jonathan welcomes his tiny son and presents him to Anna ... +


Long ago, near a small village by a stream surrounded by a large forest, honest Jonathan cuts firewood for the villagers. One day while chopping a large oak, the Forest Queen appears to Jonathan to plead with him to spare the tree, the oldest and fairest in the forest. Reluctantly, Jonathan agrees and in gratitude, the Queen offers him three wishes, cautioning him to consider carefully as the wishes will affect his wife Anna as well. When Jonathan expresses skepticism about the Queen’s offer, she vanishes. Frightened, Jonathan returns home with his burro Charlie. At home, Anna doubts Jonathan’s story until he wishes his dull cabbage meal would change into a hearty sausage. After the cabbage turns into a sausage, Anna wishes the sausage onto her husband’s nose for his silliness, but then frets that they have wasted two of their wishes. Jonathan spends the third wish regaining his real nose and he and Anna realize they have lost their wishes. On their way to bed, the couple pause at the empty, toy-filled nursery to lament their lack of children. Anna declares that she would love any child, even if it were no bigger than her thumb and Jonathan assures her there is still time for children. At the stroke of midnight, Jonathan and Anna are awakened by a knock at their front door. Investigating, Jonathan discovers a tiny boy, no bigger than his thumb, who declares that he is Jonathan and Anna’s son. Realizing that the kind Forest Queen has granted their deepest wish, Jonathan welcomes his tiny son and presents him to Anna who names him tom. After celebrating tom’s arrival, Anna puts him to bed in the nursery and sews him clothes. In the morning, tom awakens to a boisterous reception by the toys, who are grateful that tom’s presence has brought them to life. After partying with the toys, tom joins Jonathan on his daily trip to the forest and surprises his father with his ability to communicate with Charlie. In the forest, Jonathan warns tom to stay away from the dangerous swamp area filled with large, evil animals. A little later, when rogues Ivan and Tony come across father and son, they are taken with tom’s stature. Certain that the little fellow might be of invaluable help in their swindles, Ivan offers to buy tom. Incensed, Jonathan refuses. That afternoon, tom overhears musician Woody proudly telling the Forest Queen that he has been hired as a member of the village band. The Queen, who is in love with Woody, longs to be made mortal by his kiss, but Woody promises to woo her respectably. When Woody is unable to accept tom’s invitation to dinner, he promises to take the disappointed boy to the village fair that weekend. At the fair, the cobbler sells magic shoes that bewitch their wearers into endless dancing while music plays. Hoping to buy a pair for the Queen, Woody slips away from the band, but the cobbler informs him they are sold out. The cobbler offers a tiny pair to tom, who upon putting them on, excitedly dances away. Alarmed, Woody follows. When the band master notices Woody’s absence, he fires him, then speeds up the music. Barely avoiding the wildly stomping feet of the crowd, an exhausted tom manages to throw off his shoes, then to avoid falling off a step, grabs a rope attached to a balloon that sweeps him into air. Moments later, tom floats over the city hall tower where Ivan and Tony are trying to break in. Shooting the balloon down with a slingshot, Ivan “rescues” tom, who in gratitude asks if he might be of assistance. Ivan asks tom to climb through the grate into the treasury storage to retrieve money that Ivan swears he and Tony will use to save orphans. Tom agrees and is lowered into the treasury, from which he helps bring up the largest bag of gold coins. Although Tony wants to do away with tom, Ivan advises caution and, presenting tom with a gold coin, leaves him at the forest crossroads that lead to the swamp. Boldly walking into the swamp, tom is soon lost and falls into the murky water only to be rescued by the Forest Queen. Woody arrives moments later and, although relived to find tom safe, chastises him for being irresponsible. The Queen defends tom, insisting that Woody has been reckless. The two quarrel and when Woody declares he knows the Queen wants him to kiss her, the Queen vanishes in anger. Woody takes tom home, where he finds Jonathan angered over his late return. Upset at having distressed his parents, tom asks the leader of the toys, Con-fu-shon for advice, who then has the Yawning Man sing tom and the other toys to sleep. The following morning, soldiers arrive to question the family about the theft from the treasury. Anna invites the men in for breakfast, and one of the soldiers discovers a gold coin in one of Anna’s fresh baked loaves. Unknown to everyone, tom’s coin rolled into the bread dough the night before. The soldiers arrest Jonathan and Anna despite their protests. Tom, roused by the noise, gets help from the groggy toys to unlatch the door, but finds his parents gone. Determined to prove their innocence, tom resolves to find the real culprits. Tom goes to the forest to enlist Woody’s help and finds his friend lamenting the disappearance of the Queen, who listens while hidden nearby. Woody and tom track Ivan and Tony to an abandoned castle, where they are counting the treasury gold. After Ivan knocks Woody out, tom convinces the thieves that each one is cheating the other. They begin brawling with eachother, and when Woody revives, Tony knocks him out again. Meanwhile at the village, Jonathan and Anna are sentenced to a public whipping in the town square. After escaping from the castle, tom falls off a cliff into a water trough. Tony and Ivan ride away with the gold, and when Woody awakens, he follows them. Unknown to the thieves, tom is nestled in the horse’s ear and gives him commands to go to the village. Tom, Tony, Ivan and Woody arrive in the village square just as Jonathan and Anna are to receive their punishment. When the bag of gold coins falls from Ivan’s coat, the Kepellmeister orders them arrested and tom’s parents freed. Woody captures the crooked pair and is delighted when the Forest Queen materializes to praise him. Embracing her, Woody then kisses her and the two disappear only to materialize moments later with the Queen now a full-blooded mortal. The village celebrates the happy couple’s marriage and tom is thrilled to be paired with the pretty Thumbelina as a decoration on top of the wedding cake. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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