Note: I donated to the crowdfunding campaign for this release.
After years of anticipation, the second volume of the Puppetoons blu-rays, “The Puppetoon Movie Volume 2” (not a movie) has been released, with 18 freshly restored short films created by George Pal in the 1930s and 40s. These films have been restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archives, Thunderbean Animation, and RGT Archives.
The films featured on this disc are:
- Dipsy Gypsy
- Radio Valve Revolution
- Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves
- A Hatful of Dreams
- Rescue Brigade
- In Lamp Light Land
- Jasper And The Choo-Choo
- Love on the Range
- The Gay Knighties
- Two Gun Rusty
- How An Advertising Poster Came About
- Jasper Goes Hunting
- Sky Pirates
- Jasper’s Close Shave
- The Ship Of The Ether
- Good Night Rusty
- Wilbur The Lion
- Jasper Tell
Also included are some trailers, promos, credits and some Shell Oil Company propaganda.
The George Pal Puppetoons are a wonderful set of films featuring inventive stop motion animation and beautiful visuals. These cartoons are beautifully designed, using uniquely carved wood blocks to create a sort of squishy rubber hose animation in physical form, giving these cartoons a smooth, fluid appearance which is unusual in stop-motion animation.
This is a varied set of cartoon, spanning George Pal’s career as a short film creator, and features early work of his in which his technique is invented and developed, as well as later work with refined and polished animation and models. I would say that the best period of George Pal would be his late 30s European work and early 40s American work. Here the puppets are stylized and streamlined, yet they feature some of his most amusing animation”.
By comparison, his earliest work is somewhat crude, and his later work features more complex puppets but less elaborate motion.
My favorite cartoons on this set are “A Hatful of Dreams,” and the Horlicks adverts “Home on the Range” and “Sky Pirates.” “A Hatful of Dreams” is a very fun cartoon about a boy who receives a Hat which makes his dreams come true, which allows for some wildly imaginative ideas and imagery.
The Horlicks adverts are some of the last animated films George Pal made in Europe, and feature smooth, exaggerated animation and wonderful stylish character designs. Other cartoons of particular interest on this set are “Radio Valve Revolution” and “In Lamp Light Land,” which are early hand-drawn animated films produced by George Pal, and “The Ship Of The Ether,” one of the very earliest examples of George Pal’s stop-motion technique. Its animation is cruder than the later movies but it’s still very aesthetically pleasing.
It’s worth noting that this set features many cartoons in the “Jasper” series, which heavily features racist stereotypes and imagery. None of the “Jasper” cartoons on this set are what I would consider to be among George Pals’ finest work. A well known entry in the series is on this disc, “Jasper goes Hunting,” a cartoon which is only noteworthy because it features a cameo by Bugs Bunny.
There are also a couple of bonus features on this set, including trailers and promotional material for the first puppetoon movie. Of particular interest is a promotional film for Shell Oil Company, named “Prospecting for Petroleum,” a piece of boring, ancient oil corporation propaganda with some neat effects and what might just be the worst puppetoon animation on this set. Probably not a cartoon of interest for most cartoon enthusiasts, but a neat curiousity for hardcore George Pal fans I suppose.
If you are unfamiliar with the work of George Pal, I would recommend the first volume over the second one. The first volume features George Pal’s finest work, and while this set features many great cartoons, it’s not quite as essential as the first volume. However if you enjoyed the first volume and want more George Pal, this set certainly delivers.