THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
August 24, 2017 posted by Steve Stanchfield

A Puppetoon Break: “Aladdin and The Magic Lamp” (1936)

This TB Thursday is a short one this week; since the summer is coming to end (and school!) quickly, we’re trying to get as many projects wrapped up as soon as possible. The Fleischer Rarities set will likely be finished this week and ready to go to replication, while a lot of Friday is a crammed transfer session. We’re attempting to get several of the projects scanned. I’m also happy to report that tomorrow I’ll be working on the HD/ Blu-ray version of Grotestqueries with the Blu-Mouse Studio.

The other big goal this week here is to get things back to people, and send a handful of long promised ‘Care Packages’ to various people. As I was digging around earlier this week, I pulled this scan out and thought it would be a fun one for this post.


Aladdin And The Magic Lamp (1939) was one of a series of ads that George Pal produced from the mid-30s into the early 40s. This was was created for Pal’s main client at the time, Philips Radio. These ads, produced at Pal’s Studio in the Netherlands, are easily some of the most elaborate stop-motion animation produced in the 30s.

Of course, Aladdin was a popular character this particular year, with Popeye playing the hero in a Technicolor two-reel special featuring an similar title.

The Puppetoons hold up really well today, and are wonderful pre-cursers to the direction the industry is growing into now. Let me take a moment to recommend Arnold Leibovit’s The Puppetoon Movie blu ray (and coming soon on DVD).

The best of these shorts portray a generally happier, Technicolored world in comparison to the brilliant work of Entomologist-Turned Russian animator Ladislas Sterewich (Sterewicz), who’s large body of beautifully nightmarish visions are still hard to see, save for a few films such as The Mascot (1933) and some of his early shorts starring bugs, including The Cameraman’s Revenge (1912).

This particular print (in 35mm Nitrate) appears to have been used as a master for a 16mm version, with all references to Philips removed (just the last two shots). It’s a great example of how loose, fun and well -posed the Puppetoon animation had progressed into by the late 30s. It has a hand-drawn feel, and that isn’t a surprise: in the early 40s when Pal had his Puppetoon Studio in the states, some of the animation (especially walk cycles) was originally animated on paper, then translated into puppet pieces. Years back, animator and great puppeteer Bob Baker told me that there was one artist at Pal’s that was especially good at this. He had come over to the states with Pal. I have to wonder if this drawn technique was being used as early as these shorts. It appears that way to me.

Anyway, enjoy this cute little short and be sure to watch it in HD. Have a good week everyone!

14 Comments

  • I finally bit the bullet and picked up a copy of The Puppetoon Movie on Blu-ray. Such great stuff. I’m looking forward to the care packages and the eventual release of the updated Grotestqueries in HD.

  • After lusting after Thunderbean releases since you started, I am finally awaiting my first 2 Thunderbean blu-rays, bought as a 61st birthday present for myself! I’m getting Technicolor Dreams and Black & White Nightmares, and the Bray collection.
    I can’t wait!

  • I have the older (probably a decade and a half old) DVD for THE PUPPETOON MOVIE (and originally the VHS version as well). It has fewer shorts than the BluRay, but it too includes this 1936 title (usually the date listed online). I do need to get the newer one. Ladislas Sterewich/Władysław Starewicz and George Pal probably had more in common than we would realize at first. Both were consistent in style and with character appearances over many years.

    Despite the spooks in the former’s THE MASCOT, the characters in both series are often happy go lucky rather than menacing. The critical differences obviously… the former’s product being in dreamlike black & white versus the other’s glorious eye-popping GasparColor (and Technicolor for the later productions). Despite their black & white nature, Starewicz comes off as rather Disney-esque (emphasis on animals wearing clothes) while Pal is definitely Fleischer-esque (more humans of the Popeye/Betty Boop school) with these characters stretching their faces and bodies in ways that aren’t easy to do with wooden puppets.

    I also like how ALADDIN is a great comparison piece to Fleischer’s POPEYE THE SAILOR MEETS ALI BABA’S FORTY THIEVES with its cave three-dimensional sets.

    … and, of course, it is no surprise that Paramount handled both Fleischer and Pal.

  • I wonder if there is actually an uncut print of this PUPPETOON around anywhere in some vault; and I have both editions of THE PUPPETOON MOVIE, the earliest DVD and the upgraded blu-ray double disk. I hope the new DVD standard which will be issued soon, is reviewed here so we know whether or not further additions are included. For those of you who didn’t bother with the blu-ray, I’d try and get that if it still exists, and/or the forthcoming standard DVD. It is such a worthy investment, and it is the closest thing to having some restored George Pal in your library until we can someday see the entire series restored.

  • Thanks Steve Stanchfield and Jerry Beck for the mention! The fans may be interested I have curated a 35mm nitrate print 2K transfer of this subject from Europe that will be restored – along with many others never seen before! More BIG news coming soon!! ~ Arnold Leibovit Producer THE PUPPETOON MOVIE, THE FANTASY FILM WORLDS OF GEORGE PAL

    • This is wonderful news Mr. Leibovit, can’t express the joy i hearing of this. Would love to see such titles as Jasper the Hunter, The Truck That Flew, and Two Gun Rusty ! However the holy grail for me would be Midnight (1932 b/w) with the cigarette figures marching in unison. Saw it once many years ago on AMC and was totally dumbfounded by the sheer volume of puppets that had to be animated frame by frame. The soundtrack boomed with thundering marching steps and the film framing between closeup and far perspective shots gave it an almost surreal nightmarish feel. There were no title cards for the film, just a superimposed subtitling, ID’ing George Pal and “Midnight” right at the end.

  • Thanks for the news, Arnold! Once we have more George Pal films released the world will definitely be a better place! I’ve loved everyone I’ve seen. Can’t wait to see more!

  • More releases of George Pal’s Puppetoons will make this a better world!

  • It’s generally spelt Starewitch or Starewicz ( I’m guessing Sterewicz may be a typo).

    For those who can play region 2 DVDs
    there are quite a lot of his films available :

    Search at Amazon France ( Amazon.fr )
    in movies & tv for

    ”Starewitch’

    & there are about 8 different ones available!

    I have all of the individual releases & have watched them all & can vouch that they are all fantastic. -They all have english subtitles except one ( or just possibly 2 – the listings willl specify ) –
    The one which doesn’t is :
    ‘Tales Of The Magic Clock’
    ( although it is still very wonderful & worth getting ).

    Most releases – 6 or 7 – are by the truly amazing

    ‘Doriane Films’

    who no doubt will have their own website which might be a little cheaper.

    Included for sale at Amazon.fr is a 5 DVD boxset of 5 of the individual Doriane releases.

    Nearly all the releases (‘Magic World Of…’ is a bit rougher but still quite good) are from great prints with what looks like a lot of restoration –
    & the films look amazing.
    Generally the films look as they would have done when first made; with original colour tinting or re-tinting based on the original theatrical releases.
    French narration has been added to many of them (mostly the silent era ones) – which you can’t remove but with english subs as mentioned.
    Possibly – or maybe not – the silent era ones may have been presented on original release in such a style (?) –
    Great musical scores have been provided for the silent era ones also

    The only major tinkering visually is probably on ‘Tales Of The Magic Clock’ – where some of the tinting looks a bit more complex than would be possible originally.
    Aso on that one it’s 3 films are edited together so the original opening & closing titles aren’t present – but don’t let that put anyone off; it has some truly staggering animation sequences often mixed with live-action!
    And the film quality is detailed & very clear.

    For thosr who like the Mascot it is quite a bit clearer & the one on the ‘Fetiche 33-12’ DVD has an extended cut as-the-director-originally-intended-it version – which is quite a lot longer than the previously available version.

    The DVDS are ( in no particular order )

    (Titles are in French; hereI’ve given the rough English equivalent) –

    Magic World Of L.S.
    (includes the amazing ‘Fern Flowers’ – more than worth it just for that one)

    Tales Of The Magic Clock

    Fetiche 33-12

    The Adventures Of The Mascot (Fetiche)
    (5 shorts featuring the Mascot )

    Man Of The Borders

    Fables Of Starewitch After Fontaine

    Nina Star

    Tale Of The Fox
    (His only feature length film – in great condition here – a wonderful film -with plenty of detai; clearer & better than the earlier vhs release)

    Most (I’m guessing) look like they’re from HD scans – & as mentioned restoration is fantastic.

  • Ps.
    Some of the Starewitch ones I found particularly outstanding were :

    On ‘Magic World Of…’ DVD:
    ‘Fern Flowers’ as mentioned

    On the ‘Nina Star’ DVD:
    ‘The Scarecrow’, ‘Babylas’s Wedding’, &’The Queen Of The Butterflies’

    On the ‘Man From The Borders’ DVD :
    ‘In The Grip Of The Spider’ & ‘The Eyes Of The Dragon’

    On the ‘Fetiche 33-12’ DVD :
    The extended ‘The Mascot’

    On ‘The Adventures Of The Mascot’ DVD :
    The 2nd Mascot film ‘Fetiche Prestidigitateur’ (Mascot The Magician)

    ‘Tale Of The Fox’ in all it’s glory

    Most of the 3 films on ‘Tales Of The Magic Clock’

    Also on the well-known USA ‘Cameraman’s Revenge’ DVD :
    Im very partial to ‘The Insects’ Christmas’ & the great (though a bit queasy-making in places; that mask-like bear face with what looks like some sort of actual tongue) ‘Winter Carousel’.

    Overall Starewitch generally combines the sort of nightmarishness Steve mentions with lashings of sentiment also (especially in the ones his daughter ‘Nina’ – Jeanne Starewitch – appears in); quite Victorian (in a good way) in that respect.

    Also :

    Thanks to Steve (& Arnold) for news about the new Puppertoons DVD:
    I have a multi-region DVD player but not a multi-region Bluray player so didn’t get the Bluray (as I think its Region A locked).
    Have the old DVD so look forward to upgrading.
    Though have seen ‘The Sky Princess’ on a Thunderbean disc if I remember right – which is fantastic.

    I think the Puppetoons are great & I look forward very much to seeing more from the mighty Mr Pal!

    • Aren’t blu-rays ‘region’ free?

    • Hi Dan,
      Some are indeed region free but others are region locked –
      ie. as either Region A, B, or C.

      Region A in includes the USA,
      Region B includes Europe (or most of it at least)
      Region C I think includes the far East eg China (though could be wrong on this last).

      I’m sure a quick google would clarify further!

    • Tim, is Fern Flower the restored color version in the 5 title megaset or is it the b/w version we saw in the first Doriane release? (The one with the Old Lion on it…. )

  • Hi Del,

    I don’t have the Starewitch boxset only the individual releases.

    I can’t find any info on the net that suggests ‘Fern Flower’ might be on the boxset in any form (restored or otherwise).
    It’s just possible it could be on it as a hidden extra – though unlikely.
    You could email Doriane-films for a definitive answer I suppose.

    If you know it to be in the boxset (even unrestored) please let me know if you have a moment. And (if so) on which disc it appears.

    It does seem a little strange that of all the short films on the individual releases ( by Doriane ) ‘Fern Flower’ seems to be the only one not in the boxset
    (the DVD it was on – ie ‘Magic World Of …’ – being an early DVD release; & all the other films on that DVD were released again in more restored versions on the later Doriane individual DVD releases, & via those later releases in the boxset also)

    I didn’t know there was a restoration of ‘Fern Flower’ though I have read it was his first colour film (colour in the ‘modern’ sense ie not the early forms of tints, tones or hand-painted directly to the film).

    I’ve also read that his family (who organized the restorations) have 50 of his films; ie 50 out of – in one filmography I read anyway – about 68 films he made in his lifetime.

    Of the films they’ve (his family) have made available to DVD so far, it’s probably not more than 25 at most (I haven’t counted them) – so I wouldn’t be surprised if in the not too distant future 20 or more mainly unreleased films will appear on DVD.
    Or perhaps more likely on Blu-ray; perhaps alongside the already released films in that full HD format.

    And hopefully the magnificent – & restored – Fern Flower’ will be part of such new releases.

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