Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Tulips Shall Grow

So I watched The Puppetoon Movie off my DVR, from TCM's recent two-night salute to animator George Pal. The programming block was with Arnold Leibovit, who produced and directed the wraparounds for the movie and has gotten a DVD and Blu-ray of the movie released. It was the latter release which obviously spurred the programming: a little bit of advertising in exchange for the rights to run at least that movie; TCM probably had a much easier time getting the rights to some of Pal's later stuff.

The Puppetoon Movie is really nothing more than a bunch of Pal's animated (with puppets, of course) shorts from the 1930s and 1940s, together with that wraparound involving Gumby, Pokey, and Arnie the Dinosaur. The Puppetoons are, I think, a bit of an acquired taste, especially because a couple of the shorts are even shorter on plot and even more so sight gags than most of the traditionally animated shorts of the era. I think the best of them was Tulips Shall Grow, from 1942.

Jan and Janette are two lovers in Holland; Jan romantically pursuing Janette who lives in a windmill. Their idyllic lives are upended one day when the screwballs (obviously a stand-in for the Nazis although they're just screws with bolts for heads) invade, and overrun the whole countryside. But the screwballs never considered the possibilty of rust, much the same way the invaders in War of the Worlds never considered human viruses might lay them low. Jan and Janette are able to live happily ever after, as an end title reminds us that "tulips shall always grow".

Overall, the Puppetoon shorts would be best served as extras on various DVDs, but there's the usual problem of rights. The 40s Puppetoon shorts were distributed by Paramount, but Paramount is not listed in the IMDb production companies. Besides, a couple of the shorts are from the 1930s and were done in the Netherlands; Philips distributed those. No regular studio is going to license the shorts just to include them on a DVD with one of their own classics, and you can't blame them. The result is a standalone DVD, and a Blu-ray with a lot of extras, but which is extremely pricey by DVD and Blu-ray standards.

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