02 May 2009

All's Well in Lilliput

Though today, the Fleischer studio feature Gulliver's Travels (1939) strikes me as a gently enjoyable missed opportunity, the tiny land of Lilliput was hot stuff at the time of the film's first release. Hot enough, anyway, for the studio to spin its Donald Duck/Grumpy morph Gabby off into a cartoon series of his own. (Everyone who's stared at a cheap drugstore VHS or DVD rack is sure to have encountered Fire Cheese [1941] sooner or later. I bet half of them are still mystified by its title—but I digress...)

I bumped into this Look Magazine preview of Gulliver in an archival collection awhile back and thought it deserved sharing. Though the source material—and thus my copies—were undated, loose pages, I've since learned that this feature was published in the January 2, 1940 issue.

Since I'm hardly an expert on the Fleischers' later days, I won't claim to know the details of the Gulliver print ad campaign—but I'm glad for any information others might provide. In the meantime, I'll check out a few more Gabby shorts on YouTube; their public domain status makes them perennials, and it's amazing just how many modern tweens and teens have posted comments in praise of the little blowhard. He's almost achieved the lasting popularity now that he failed to attain in the old days.

Max and Dave might be proud... if they could watch those deep red Eastman Color prints without wincing. Is everybody hap-hap-happy?

1 comment:

Yowp said...

The ad campaign cost $250,000.

1939 editions of Boxoffice magazine are have all kinds of Gulliver content. But here's a full-page colour ad specifically about the marketing campaign:


Being a trade publication, Boxoffice also has a story on Paramount's terms of sale to exhibitors, either at 40% or a sliding scale based on the gross. And an exhibitor had to pick up the Paramount's entire 1939-40 programme to run it, which I presume means shorts and features.