Wednesday, March 3, 2010
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962)
Directed by Henry Levin and George Pal
Produced by George Pal
Screenplay by David P. Harmon, Charles Beaumont, William Roberts
Story by David P. Harmon
Based on "Die Bruder Grimm" by Dr. Hermann Gerstner
and the stories of Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm (uncredited)
Cinematography by Paul C. Vogel (in Cinerama!)
Film Editing by Walter Thompson
Special Visual Effects by Tim Baar, Wah Chang, Robert R. Hoag, Gene Warren
With stop-motion by Jim Danforth, David Pal, Don Sahlin, Peter Van Elk
Music by Leigh Harline
Laurence Harvey (Wilhelm Grimm/ The Cobbler), Karl Boehm (Jacob Grimm),
with Claire Bloom, Barbara Eden, Oskar Homolka, Arnold Stang, Yvette Mimieux, Russ Tamblyn, Jim Backus, Terry-Thomas, Buddy Hackett, Billy Barty, Angelo Rossitto, Ian Wolfe
Released by MGM
fab flick (as an adult and under the best conditions available, that is, letterboxed and in color),
it HERE (scroll way down; it’s the last of several long entries), and there’s plenty of additional links at that link if you’re interested in further reading on The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.
Rarely seen since 1962, and never released to VHS, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (WWBG) was essentially considered “lost.”
Thankfully, it has been showing up at odd hours on TCM (my new best friend, and really an invaluable resource to anyone interested in movies unavailable on DVD), so maybe that’s an indication that a DVD release is in the works. Fingers crossed!
Because this George Pal production is a
gentle, sweet, family friendly fantasy
that’s often quite spectacular in that old school Hollywood way, especially the effects
(this movie has a great stop-motion dragon, in my opinion).
This is a Cinerama movie,
so seeing it on TV or DVD will never be the same experience as in an original theater,
but if you can brain-flash yourself into the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, circa 1962,
you could have a blast.
Developed to showcase the Cinerama movie system,
WWBG is full of eye-popping filler
(lots of travelogue-type footage, and cameras moving through sets and crowds), and personally,
I enjoy how the letterboxed Cinerama image distorts around the edges---it added to the sense of fantasy for me.
The movie is also worth seeing for one of Laurence Harvey’s most joyful and life-affirming performances (usually he’s so gloomy or mean!).
He’s one of the Grimms, the dreamy one (in both sense of the word—especially since the other Grimm Brother is played by creepy and stiff (was it a language problem?) Karl Boehm, who was the killer in Peeping Tom (WTF!?!)),
and Harvey seems to be having a good time in WWBG,
and he gets to really overact as the lazy, goofball Cobbler whose ass is saved by the welfare state, symbolized by Puppettoon magic elves.
While the whole third act of the film
could have used some seriously judicious trimming,
the finale is incredibly heartwarming and moving,
bringing a tear to even a coal-hearted monster like myself.
When I’d last written about George Pal
in my entry about MIA DVDs (the URL link I’d referred to earlier),
I was slamming the dude pretty hard about being out of touch with his audiences and in his choices of scripts,
especially with The Power and Atlantis, the Lost Continent.
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm
is a film that richly deserves to be rediscovered
and put next to other classic fantasy flicks of that era.