Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The 3 Worlds Of Gulliver (1960)

Based loosely on the classic novel by Jonathan Swift, The 3 Worlds Of Gulliver is a superior fantasy with plenty of comedic moments throughout, both satirical and non-satirical. It benefits from decent special effects, some of which come from the great Ray Harryhausen.

The story begins with a good doctor named Lemuel Gulliver (Kerwin Mathews) considering some time at sea. This would make him a good bit of money, something that keeps causing trouble between himself and his good lady, Elizabeth (June Thorburn). Despite her protests, Lemuel heads off, only to discover that Elizabeth has stowed herself on board. One bit of bad weather lately and our hero finds himself washed up on a strange shore. It is the land of Lilliput, a land full of tiny people. Lemuel eventually manages to calm the inhabitants of the island, but finds himself in the middle of a war between Lilliput and the nearby island of Blefuscu. The cause of the war is so ridiculous that it would seem to be something easily resolved. Sadly, thats not the case. When Lemuel finally gets away from the island he ends up on the island of Brobdingnag and is reunited with Elizabeth. The only problem is that they are now two tiny people in a land of giants. That wouldn't be so bad, if only Lemuel didn't try to educate his hosts and make himself appear to be a very talented witch.

The 3 Worlds Of Gulliver works as well as it does thanks to the script written by Arthur A. Ross and director Jack Sher. It may not cover every part of the original novel, but it takes the essence of the whole thing (and the most well-known aspects) and still packs in plenty of little pointed observations that fans of the source material will enjoy seeing put onscreen. It certainly works more of the source material into the script than the 2010 movie.

Kerwin Mathews is decent and earnest enough as Lemuel Gulliver, though there are also times when he does himself no favours. The character may not go through as many hardships or changes as he does in the novel, but at least viewers get to see that he's not a complete saint. June Thorburn does well enough in her role, despite it not giving her that much to do, and the other main players - Basil Sydney as the Emperor Of Lilliput, Gregoire Aslan and Mary Ellis as the King and Queen of Brobdingnag, Charles Lloyd Pack as Makovan and Sherry Alberoni as Glumdalclitch - do well with parts that allow them to have some fun.

The work of Ray Harryhausen may not be all that prevalent, but the two main sequences that make the most of his involvement are highlights, though the film doesn't really have any low points anyway.

I'd encourage fans of the classic story to check this out. It's a film full of many little pleasures, no pun intended.


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