Gulliver's Travels (1939)

A Matter of Life and Death (1946) Front Cover DVD

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A Matter of Life and Death (1946) Back Cover DVD

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On November 5, 1699, Lemuel Gulliver washes onto the beach of Lilliput after a storm at sea and ultimate shipwreck. Following the calm of the storm, the town crier Gabby stumbles across Gulliver in terror and rushes back to Lilliput to warn King Little of a "giant on the beach". But Little and King Bombo of Blefescu are signing a wedding contract between their children, Princess Glory and Prince David of Blefuscu, respectively.. All is fine until an argument starts over which national anthem is to be played at the wedding. The argument cancels the wedding and starts a war.

After several failures, Gabby tells King Little of the "giant", and leads a mob to the beach to capture him. There, the Lilliputians tie Gulliver to a wagon on which they convey him to the capital. In the next morning, Gulliver awakens and breaks himself free; but when they see that the invading Blefuscuians are intimidated by his size, the Lilliputians enlist his help against their neighbor, treating him with hospitality and making him a new set of clothes.

King Bombo, who has sent three spies, Sneak, Snoop, and Snitch, into Lilliput, orders them to kill Gulliver, whereupon the spies steal Gulliver's flintlock pistol, confiscated by the Lilliputians, and prepare to use it against him. Meanwhile, Gulliver learns of the war's cause from Glory and David, and proposes a new song that combines the two proposed by their fathers.

When the spies assure King Bombo that they can kill Gulliver, Bombo announces by carrier pigeon that he will attack at dawn. Gabby intercepts this message and warns the Lilliputians, but is himself captured by the spies and stuffed in a sack, who prepare the pistol. As the Blefuscuian fleet approaches Lilliput, Gulliver ties them together and draws them disarmed to shore. The spies fire at Gulliver from a cliff, but Prince David diverts the shot and falls to his apparent death. Using David's body to illustrate his point, Gulliver scolds both Lilliput and Blefuscu for fighting; when they solemnize a truce, Gulliver reveals that David is unharmed, whereupon David and Glory sing their combined song for everyone to hear. The spies release Gabby from the sack. Both sides thereafter build a new ship for Gulliver on which he departs.

This was the first American animated feature from a studio other than Disney and only the second overall, the first being Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). The world premiere of this film was on November 18, 1939, at the Sheridan Theater in Miami Beach, FL, because the Max Fleischer Studio was in Miami. The New York City trade-showing premiere was two days later, and the national release date followed that by two days. Rival producer Walt Disney was reportedly dismissive of its quality, but he pushed back the release of his own animated feature Pinocchio (1940) by two months (to January 12th 1940) to avoid direct competition with Gulliver.


Sam Parker as Gulliver
Pinto Colvig as Gabby
Jack Mercer as King Little, Twinkletoes, Sneak, Snoop, Snitch
Tedd Pierce as King Bombo
Jessica Dragonette as the singing voice of Princess Glory
Livonia Warren as the speaking voice of Princess Glory
Lanny Ross as the singing voice of Prince David
Cal Howard as the speaking voice of Prince David

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