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Trivia / Gulliver's Travels

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The book by Jonathan Swift

The Max Fleischer animated movie

  • Christmas Rushed: Fleischer was given less than two years to make this animated feature, starting May 1938 and with the deadline being Christmas 1939.
  • Contest Winner Cameo: Quite possibly the Ur-example for this trope, Gulliverís voice actor and Ink-Suit Actor (as well as the rotoscope model) Sam Parker won the role in a radio contest. The Irony being Sam himself was a radio announcer.
  • Cut Song:
    • The Villain Song "Pussyfootin' Around" was meant to introduce King Bombo's spies, Sneak, Snoop and Snitch. While lyrics were written, the song was ultimately cut due to production already having too much going on. The instrumental however was recorded and ultimately used as their Leitmotif in their Animated Antics shorts as well as the theme of the Color Classics short "The Fresh Vegetable Mystery".
    • "Cheerio" was a song meant to give added depth to the two kings. It too was cut due to production issues and time crunch.
  • Executive Meddling: The reason the film exists. Paramount wanted to cash in on the success of Snow White. But they forced Fleischer to imitate Disney, and it shows.
  • Follow the Leader: While Max Fleischer had the idea of making a feature length animated film in his head for a while, it wasn't until the unprecedented success of Snow White that Paramount gave the greenlight to such a project.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: In Swift's book, the Silly Reason for War is a disagreement over which end of an egg should be broken first. That's not something very easy to explain in under three minutes in an animated film. Fortunately Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin had the idea to make the war over which song should be sung at the wedding - and resolve it in a duet. Equally silly, but far easier to animate.
  • Referenced by...:
  • Troubled Production: Many staffers, including animators Shamus Culhane and Grim Natwick, recall that the film had a lot of behind the scenes troubles that ended up hurting the quality of the film.
    • To begin with, it had a deadline that was far too short—production began in May 1938, and it was due Christmas 1939. This is less than half of the four years of production that went into Snow White, the film it was meant to emulate to begin with.
    • A studio that was under equipped to take on the challenge of making a Disney-like feature length animated film (many of the staffers weren't familiar with the West Coast style of animation pioneered by Disney), not helped by an influx of east coast and west coast staffers who were at odds with each other on their approaches to animation, and the studio's decision to hire amateur, apathetic Miami art students, as well as newcomers who received a few hours worth of cram-course art training, all resulted in sloppy inking and bad-inbetween work (explaining the films very uneven animation quality). The Fleischers' move to a new studio in Miami also resulted in many of their talented employees in New York getting left behind (including Betty Boop voice actress Mae Questel) with the few who did make the move becoming homesick, as well as putting up with the hazards and quirks of Florida (such as many mosquito infestations).
    • A feud between story artists over which direction the story would take—it was planned as a Bing Crosby vehicle at one point, and at another point Popeye was intended to be the star of the film, with its tone being more cartoony, as Max Fleischer actually did not wish to follow the Disney approach to animated films. Both of the previous stories were thrown out and rewritten by west coast storymen, particularly ex-Warners staffer Cal Howard.
    • A feud broke out between Max and Dave Fleischer themselves over whether Dave himself or another person would compose the film's score.
    • The fact that the film was being made in the Fleischer's new studio in Miami, Florida (which was far too small to hold the 700+ staffers needed to complete Gulliver) meant that if any equipment broke down, it would have been very difficult to get it fixed in any reasonable time. The lack of film industry in Miami meant that unless they wanted to use local actors or their woefully inadequate amateur orchestra (which was impeding the sound quality of the shorts from mid 1938 and onward), they had to outsource recording sessions to west coast studios (which they did for Gulliver, Mr. Bug Goes to Town and the Superman Theatrical Cartoons).
    • In the end, while the film was a success at the box office, making $3.27 million (equal to almost $68 million adjusted for inflation) in the United States, Paramount deliberately discounted the money the film made in Europe before World War II broke out there, meaning the film had much overhead left to be paid, leaving the Fleischers in the red. Critical reaction was also mixed, with a cruel remark from rival Walt Disney quipping "We can make a better film than that with our second-string animators". Not helping that Fleischer Studios was held under a $350,000 penalty for going over budget due to the move to Miami, transporting the film for processing and crash course training new artists.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The film was meant to be much more in the Fleischers' traditional style, but Paramount threw their original screenplay into the trash and forced them to make the film more Disney-like.
    • At one point there were plans to have Popeye in the role of Gulliver.

The 1996 miniseries:


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