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Gulliver's Travels (December 22, 1939)

Gulliver's Travels

Released on December 22, 1939: (running time 1 hour and 16 minutes) A full color, full length animated movie of the story of Gulliver's adventure to the South Seas island of Lilliput.

Produced by Max Fleischer

Directed by Dave Fleischer

The Actors: Jessica Dragonette (the singing voice of Princess Glory), Lanny Ross (the singing voice of Prince David), Pinto Colvig (Gabby), Jack Mercer (King Little), Sam Parker (the voice of Gulliver)


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The Giant Sailor and the Princess Bride

Would you believe that I felt guilty watching this cartoon fairy tale? Yup. Why? Well, as a young boy I watched cartoons every Saturday morning from daybreak until around lunch time when there were no more cartoon shows to watch. I didn't think I was ‘addicted’ to cartoons or anything, it was just what I did on Saturday mornings, because there was usually nothing better to do. I remember like it was yesterday, that one Saturday morning. I must have been 12 or 13, and my dad said to me that he thought I was watching too many cartoons, and he told me that I was now old enough that it was probably time that I learned to do something else with my time on Saturday mornings. I wasn’t mad or upset, I genuinely thought that I was growing up, and Dad noticed that I was becoming ‘adult,’ and that only kids watched cartoons. So from that day forward, I avoided cartoons like the plague. And to this day, I will not watch cartoons willingly. What a shame that I took his advice so severely.

Most motion picture historians agree that the year 1939 saw more great films produced than any year before or after. This animated classic is one of those ‘greats.’

Dave Fleisher was a New York City boy, and he got a job when he was about 19 years old working for the French movie company Pathe as a film cutter. This was in 1913, when movies were mostly made for the small nickelodeon machines, where you'd put your eyes up against the binocular-like lenses and look into the box where a short motion picture scene would be shown, with no sound or anything, just some animated movement.

Dave and his older brothers Max and Lou started a company so that Dave could create animated cartoons via the rotoscope method. A fellow in Columbus, Ohio patented a method by which a live-action sequence was filmed, then projected onto a piece of frosted glass, and an animator like Dave would put a piece of paper on the other side of the glass and trace the outlines of the person or item in the movie.

Dave Fleischer created the Betty Boop cartoons and the Popeye cartoons that were wildly popular features before regular movies in the 1930's and 1940's. Cartoons were always just a few minutes in length, and Dave pleaded with Paramount Studios to let him make a much longer animated cartoon, but Paramount didn't think it would be profitable.

Then in 1937 this fellow in California took cartoons one step further by creating a full-length motion picture that was all animation, called, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." After the great success of Walt Disney’s groundbreaking picture, Paramount was all about doing the same thing, and quickly! They offered to build the Fleishers a brand-new animation studio in Miami, Florida, and the Fleishers moved their company from New York City to Miami.

The race to produce this full color animated feature was so great that Paramount lured every artistic animator it could find in California to work with the Fleishers in Miami, and they grabbed every graduate from the art schools of America that they could to help in the effort. Finally, two years after the Disney film was released, Paramount Pictures released the second animated cartoon feature motion picture, “Gulliver's Travels,” in time for the Christmas crowd in 1939. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.