1949-1950

The Great Rupert (1949)


George Pal makes his first screen appearance.

George Pal's first motion picture feature was The Great Rupert (1949) as part of a two picture deal with Eagle-Lion Production Company. The real star of the film is Rupert, a very talented squirrel. Rupert was in actuality a stop motion puppet not unlike Pal's earlier puppetoon characters. Although by today's standards with computer animation and image enhancement Rupert seems crude, we must also remember that it was the efforts of George Pal, Windsor McKay, Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen which paved the way for films such as Stuart Little and the Jurassic Park films.

"It is not whimsical, as the Puppetoons were, but it is like them in that it is a clear, round story, a wholesome subject which the whole family can enjoy. I have always regarded the film audience as being composed of family units, and have tried to give it subjects that would prove interesting and amusing to the youngest and eldest member of each unit. The family audience regarded my Puppetoons with their favor, and I am hopeful that by following the same principles I may experience the same result with my feature pictures."
—George Pal

Pal maintained a positive attitude which was evident in his Puppetoon films as well, that of hope and man's ability to overcome his obstacles.


Destination Moon (1950)

Destination Moon proved to be one of the top grossing films for Eagle-Lion in 1950 and earned George Pal an Oscar for Special Effects. Another significant aspect of Destination Moon is the strengthening of the friendship between George Pal and Walter Lantz. George called upon Walter to provide the Woody Woodpecker cartoon used to explain the theory of rocket propulsion. George would salute walter in many of his features. For example, in The Time Machine a small girl is carrying a Woody Woodpecker doll as she runs toward the fallout shelter in the 1966 sequence.


Girl carrying Woody Woodpecker doll
in The Time Machine

Pal's second film with Eagle-Lion was based on Rocketship Galileo by Robert Heinlein, Destination Moon. Unlike films as Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, Destination Moon would be the first film to take a serious look at space travel. Filming had already begun when The Great Rupert was released and was not doing well at the box office causing distress among the studio executives regarding the future of Destination Moon. After much discussion of the script, the film was finished on April 1,1950.


George Pal, Conrad Nagel,
Duke Goldstone (film editor)

With the success of Destination Moon, Pal had laid the ground work for science fiction films for decades to come.

The Great Rupert Available on DVD

Destination Moon Available on DVD

Paramount Years 1950-1955 Next >>

 

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