Saturday, 3 March 2012

George Pal and Sex

A couple of months ago, we posted about George Pal, maker of the imaginative Puppetoons released by Paramount in the 1940s. I’ve dug out another newspaper piece on Pal, this one from 1945. It was written about the time a new season of shorts was hitting theatres, beginning with ‘Jasper and the Beanstalk’ on October 19.

Producer Pal Explain How Wooden Puppetoons Work
Hollywood, Oct. 25. (BUP)—Producer George Pal is our candidate for the man who works harder than anybody to put sex in the movies.
Usually it’s a simple thing for an actress to wiggle her torso. But when Pal’s ladies do it that means 25 extra wooden figures.
Pal is the ex-architect who turns out Pal’s Puppetoons, those little three-dimensional people.
It takes, he explained today, 14 different puppets to show one step.
Just the same. Pal thinks he’ll keep on using his bosomy ladies with the shapely legs.
“I tried one out in one of the Jasper puppetoons,” he said. That was the first time we’d ever had a fling at wooden sex. And she seemed to go over quite well.
And he makes that statement, he grinned, just a few days before the Hollywood chamber of commerce will present him with a bronze plaque (we still think it should, be wooden) commemorating his five years in Hollywood and his long record of clean entertainment.
“But when I say I’m going to keep sex in I don’t want you to get the wrong idea,” he explained. “Because every puppetoon we turn out has to be passed by the censors first.
Started in Hollywood
Pal has been working with “his little blockheads” for about 12 years now. He started out in Holland as an architect. Then he decided drawing animated cartoons would pay better.
“But it didn’t,” he said. “At least, not much. So I started carving out my puppets and making three-dimensional cartoons of them.
The puppets went over big with the advertising companies.
“Then five years ago, I got an offer from Hollywood,” he said.
“Then one day I, was sort of doodling away,” he said, “and I hit on the idea of a little colored boy. We called him Jasper. Then we got a colored scarecrow and perched a crow on his shoulder.”
From there on in Pal was in business. Right now he’s turning out a new puppetoon every six weeks.
It takes about 3,000 different puppets for a seven-minute short, and about 22 weeks to draw whittle, shoot and record it.

Someone knowledgeable about Puppetoons can comment about what short involving a “bosomy lady” he’s talking about. I wonder if it’s ‘Hatful of Dreams,’ released earlier in 1945. Boxoffice magazine gave it a “superior” rating in its review.

One of the most colourful and imaginative of the series to date, this subject shows how Punchy, a pathetic little ragamuffin in love with his unattainable Judy, is given a magic hat by a cab hose. The hat’s magic transforms its wearer into whatever he or she secretly dreams of being. Thus, the spavined, knock-kneed nag becomes a Derby winner. Punchy becomes Superman, and others who do the magic skimmer undergo a surprising change. After many complications, the nag gets back his hat, Judy gets her Punchy and Punchy gets—more Punchy.

The Winter 1985 edition 14 of Animator had a nice article about Pal. You can read it HERE.

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