Cast & Crew
In 1699 in the village of Wapping, England, Dr. Lemuel Gulliver, discontent with his life of poverty, decides to sign on as ship's doctor aboard the vessel piloted by Capt. Pritchard, hoping to sail the world in search of wealth and fame. Once at sea, Gulliver discovers that his fiancée, Elizabeth Whitley, has stowed away on board. Gulliver insists that Elizabeth be put ashore at their first port, and as the two argue, a storm-swept wave knocks Gulliver overboard. Nearly drowned, Gulliver is washed ashore on the island of Lilliput, where his presence frightens the tiny inhabitants, who regard Gulliver as a giant. The pompous emperor of Lilliput declares that Gulliver must be an enemy because he is different from everyone else. To prove his benevolence, Gulliver disperses a drenching rainstorm with a puff of his breath. As Gulliver starts building a boat so that he can set sail and find his beloved Elizabeth, he helps the Lilliputians by clearing their forests for croplands and using his hat to scoop up fish from the sea. Gulliver envisions Lilliput as a heaven on earth until the Emperor threatens to prevent the boat from being completed unless Gulliver joins the crusade to crush the inhabitants of the nearby island of Blefscu, who have gone to war with Lilliput over their disagreement about the proper way to crack an egg. To absolve himself from blame if the Lilliputian army is defeated, the Emperor decrees that a prime minister should be elected to lead the troops into war. The candidates are Flimnap, the evil minister of defense, who wholeheartedly supports the annihilation of the Blefscuns, and the benevolent Reldresal, whose sweetheart Gwendolyn and her father, Lord Bermogg, are being exiled to Blefscu for cracking the wrong end of an egg. The contest is to be decided on the basis of which candidate performs the most feats on a tightrope, and Reldresal, who shares Gulliver's dream of making Lilliput a paradise, teams with the giant to win the match. However, when Reldresal refuses to renounce Gwendolyn, he is arrested for treason and the Emperor threatens to execute him and kill Gwendolyn unless Gulliver agrees to go to war. To save them, Gulliver swims to Blefscu, where the inhabitants are assembling an armada to attack Lilliput. Upon reaching the harbor, Gulliver pulls up the ship's anchor lines and tows the vessels out to sea. When Gulliver returns triumphant to Lilliput, Flimnap scoffs that you cannot win a war without suffering casualties and the Emperor, who perceives Gulliver as a threat to his power, accuses him of treason. Warned by Reldresal that the Emperor intends to execute him, Gulliver jumps into his now completed boat and rows out to sea. When he lands on the island of Brobdingnag, where he is terrified by a forty-foot-tall girl playing with Gulliver-sized dolls. The girl, Glumdalclitch, scoops up Gulliver and takes him to show the King. At the castle, Gulliver finds Elizabeth, who was washed ashore after Capt. Pritchard's boat sank. The King beams at the tiny Elizabeth and Gulliver, whom he regards as his own special possessions, even though his sorcerer, Makovan, warns that little people are dangerous. The King appoints Glumdalclitch as the little people's guardians and installs them in their own tiny castle. With all their needs satisfied, Gulliver renounces his earlier quest for power and importance and marries Elizabeth. They settle into a life of contentment until Makovan accuses Gulliver of witchcraft because of his knowledge of science, making Gulliver realize that the kingdom is backward and ignorant and that he and Elizabeth exist merely as amusements for the King. After the Queen develops a stomachache, Gulliver formulates a medicine to cure her, confirming Makovan's suspicions. The King, jealous of his wife's admiration for Gulliver, orders Glumdalclitch to take Gulliver to Makovan's lab, where the sorcerer plans to prove that he is a witch. When Gulliver refuses to denounce medicine and science, Makovan deems him a witch, and the King, in turn, decides to feed him to his pet crocodile. Using his ingenuity, Gulliver slays the creature, after which Glumdalclitch snatches up Gulliver and Elizabeth, puts them in her basket and flees the castle with the King and his courtiers in pursuit. When Glumdalclitch stumbles and drops the basket, Gulliver and Elizabeth tumble out and run into a forest. Unable to locate the little people, the King sets fire to the brush. Elizabeth and Gulliver take refuge at the mouth of a stream, and when Glumdalclitch finds them there, she puts them into her basket and hurls it into the stream, which flows into the sea. Awakening on a beach with Elizabeth, Gulliver realizes that love is the only thing that sustains life in a fearful, uncertain world. Spotting a man walking on the beach, Gulliver asks how to reach the faraway land of Wapping, England and the man replies it is just over the hill.
Charles Lloyd Pack
Enzo Mucimeci Grecco
Charles H. Schneer
The Three Worlds of Gulliver
The script for what eventually became The 3 Worlds of Gulliver was a simplified variation on the Swift work, of course; it covered the first two voyages of the four in Gulliver's Travels, a romance was added, and most significantly, the bitter satire of the original was considerably softened, although a hint of it remains in the story. Dr. Lemuel Gulliver (Kerwin Mathews) is a physician in Wapping, England who accepts a position as a ship's surgeon so that he might make enough money to wed Elizabeth (June Thorburn) and buy a cottage. Gulliver discovers that Elizabeth is a stowaway on his ship, just as it is hit by a violent storm. Gulliver is washed overboard and passes out after being deposited on an island. He wakes up and sees himself bound to the beach by miniature ropes. He is in the tiny kingdom of Lilliput, and the Emperor (Basil Sydney) is convinced that the "giant" Gulliver is an enemy and agent of the neighboring island-nation of Blefuscu, which is at war with Lilliput. Gulliver helps the Lilliputians gather fish and clear land for farming, while he begins to build a boat to search for Elizabeth. The Emperor presses Gulliver to help in their war, but Gulliver balks when he discovers the petty reason given for launching the war in the first place.
Columbia had first envisioned their property as a possible vehicle for Danny Kaye or contract player Jack Lemmon. Producer Schneer, however, wasted no time in signing Sinbad star Kerwin Mathews to the title role. It was with The 3 Worlds of Gulliver that Harryhausen and Schneer moved their base of operations permanently to England. In his book Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life (written with Tony Dalton), Harryhausen said that a major reason for the move was to take advantage of the cheaper labor as well as the "unlimited and underused locations" in Spain and other European countries. "There was also another reason," Harryhausen explained, "the Rank Film Laboratories, with Vic Margutti in charge, had developed a special matte process called 'sodium backing process' or 'yellow backing process', which was a simplified matte technology. Unlike the old blue backing process we had used in 7th Voyage, which required from eight to ten different steps to produce a desired matte, the sodium method made an instantaneous matte in a split-beam camera." The process was also more versatile, allowing for a greater use of colors than standard blue backing, and was more refined, with minimal loss of fine detail. Since The 3 Worlds of Gulliver would require an almost unprecedented number of process shots, Harryhausen was anxious to use the new sodium backing method.
Location photography for The 3 Worlds of Gulliver took place in Spain, at many of the same coastal locations used in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. Harryhausen wrote, "quite often there would be two separate set-ups at either end of the S'Agaro beach, perhaps one for a giant Brobdingnag scene, which would necessitate Kerwin having two different costume changes and running between them. Kerwin never complained." Some miniature sets and interiors were shot at Sevilla Studios in Madrid, but the majority of the interiors, as well as all of Harryhausen's animation and process shots, were done at Pinewood Studios outside London.
As he had for his leading role in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Kerwin Mathews was once again called on to act opposite actors and animals that would later be matted or animated into the shot. His most difficult experience, however, was shooting the beach scene in which he awakens after being tied down by Lilliputians. As he told FXRH magazine, "It took them so long to tie all my hair down that we cleverly prepared by not giving me anything to drink so that I wouldn't have to go to the john. I was tied down eight hours that first day. ...I couldn't move for fear of pulling the 'ropes' out of the sand with my hair, and I started to cramp..."
The script called for more than 300 potential matte shots more than the budget allowed, even using the sodium backing process. To eliminate some of these expensive shots, Harryhausen occasionally used an in-camera trick as old as movies themselves perspective photography. As an example, Harryhausen used forced perspective in the scene when the Lilliputians stand on a tower to present a medal to Gulliver. "For this I placed Kerwin in the foreground and the actors on the tower way off in the distance. By using a wide angled lens, I told Kerwin and the actors where to look so that we were able to shoot it at the same time without double printing."
Harryhausen's films are best known for their stop-motion animation sequences and fantastic creatures, but The 3 Worlds of Gulliver only called for two short animated scenes, with ordinary animals a squirrel and an alligator. For his squirrel animation model, Harryhausen used a genuine taxidermy specimen. His father built a metal armature and Harryhausen installed it in the animal, using sponge to build up the body. "Unfortunately," wrote Harryhausen, "the squirrel sequence lacks excitement, and I have never been happy with the fact that the creature makes a sound more like a wheeze than a squeak. Having said that, I do feel that the squirrel has a certain charm, which the film needed at that point in the story."
The alligator sequence involved Gulliver using an improvised sword against the reptile. The swordplay was choreographed by Enzo Musumeci Greco, who had already worked with Kerwin Mathews in the swordfight with a living skeleton in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. Harryhausen worked hard to establish "contact" points between the actor and the animation model, to increase the credibility of the scene. Harryhausen wrote, "one such 'contact' is the struggle for Gulliver's shield as it is pulled from side to side by the alligator's mouth. To achieve the pulling action, the shield was held by Kerwin during the live action photography and he simulated the jerking motion. On the animation table I placed a small portion of the shield (actually made of cardboard) in the creature's jaws, and then matched the live action movement on the rear projection screen with the model alligator."
Columbia Pictures had already dubbed Harryhausen's process (of sandwiching his stop-motion model work between two halves of a split process screen) "Dynamation" in its advertising. Endeavoring to come up with another sellable term, they used the phrase "Superdynamation" in the advertising for The 3 Worlds of Gulliver. Harryhausen said the new term "didn't mean a thing."
The 3 Worlds of Gulliver premiered in royal fashion, on November 30, 1960 at London's Odeon Marble Arch, with Princess Margaret in attendance. A review in The New York Times by Eugene Archer recommends the film, but only for kids, and for "parents searching for a good holiday film to occupy vacationing primary graders.... Omitting most of the political satire that gives the book its adult fascination, it preserves the elements of adventure and fantasy that make the tale acceptable to the young." The critic at Variety saw that the film was aiming for more than just the youngest members of the family: "...enough of [the book's] telling and caustic comment remains and applies to the present to give it the added stature of philosophical importance that spells the difference between acceptable kiddie fare and a worthwhile full-fledged family attraction." This reviewer also had high praise for Bernard Herrmann's score and said that Harryhausen "...rates a low bow for his painstaking productive efforts."
At some point, screenwriter Arthur Ross prepared an outline for a sequel to The 3 Worlds of Gulliver, called The New World of Gulliver. The film would have adapted Books III and IV of Swift's work, depicting Gulliver and his wife Elizabeth on the Floating Island of Laputa, and in the Land of the Houyhnhnms. Harryhausen, though, felt that the film would have been uncommercial and too complex to realize visually.
Producer: Charles H. Schneer
Director: Jack Sher
Screenplay: Arthur Ross, Jack Sher, based on the book by Jonathan Swift
Cinematography: Wilkie Cooper
Film Editing: Raymond Poulton
Art Direction: Derek Barrington, Gil Parrondo
Costume Design: Eleanor Abbey
Music: Bernard Herrmann
Special Effects: Ray Harryhausen
Cast: Kerwin Mathews (Dr. Lemuel Gulliver), Jo Morrow (Gwendolyn), June Thorburn (Elizabeth), Lee Patterson (Reldresal), Gregoire Aslan (King Brob), Basil Sydney (Emperor of Lilliput), Charles Lloyd Pack (Makovan), Martin Benson (Filmnap).
by John M. Miller
The Three Worlds of Gulliver
The film's working title was Gulliver's Travels. September and October 1958 news items in Hollywood Reporter noted that Universal-International Pictures registered the title Gulliver's Travels in early 1958, and commissioned Jack Sher, Arthur Ross and and Sy Gomberg to write the screenplay. When producer Charles H. Schneer began work on his own project based on Jonathan Swift's novel, Universal protested, but later worked out a co-production deal with Schneer's Morningside Productions. Both Sher and Gomberg worked for Universal, and although Sher is credited with the film's screenplay, the extent of Gomberg's contribution to the completed film has not been determined.
According to a June 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item, location shooting was done around Costa Brava, Spain. Publicity materials in the film's production files at the AMPAS Library add the following Spanish locations: the walled city of Avila, the mountains of Boca del Anzo, the aqueduct in Segovia and the Palacio de Oriente in La Granga. Spanish interiors were filmed at the Sevilla Studios in Madrid. A September 1959 Los Angeles Times article noted that after eight weeks of shooting in Spain, the company moved to London's Pinewood Studios. Publicity materials noted that the village square at Shepperton, England was also used for location shooting. In a September 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item, Schneer noted that he was unhappy with the labor problems he experienced while working in England, and added that the distrust between labor and management resulted in frequent stoppages and strikes.
Hollywood Reporter news items add Waveney Lee, Dandy Nichols and Richard Golden to the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Although a June Hollywood Reporter item in the "Rambling Reporter" column added Joe Marston to the cast, his appearance in the film has not been confirmed.
The process of Super Dynamation was developed by Ray Harryhausen and was first used by Schneer in his 1958 film The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. Unlike that film, which combined animation with live action, The 3 Worlds of Gulliver used all live action. According to studio publicity materials, the visual effects were produced by the use of perspective, inlay photography, optical variation and split screen. Harryhausen would use as many as five strips of film to create a visual sequence, blending them together to obtain a single visual effect. For The 3 Worlds of Gulliver, Harryhausen used more than 200 trick photographic shots and spent five months processing the visual effects in the laboratory following the conclusion of principal photography.
A December 1960 Motion Picture Herald news item noted that to promote the film, a twenty-five-foot tall helium balloon of Gulliver was entered in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, then sent on a nationwide tour. Products with the Gulliver motif were featured on children's clothing and bedroom sets, and hard-and-soft covered versions of the novel were released to tie in with the film's merchandising. A modern source adds Doris Lloyd to the cast. Although a February 1960 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that a sequel titled The New Travels of Master Gulliver starring Kerwin Mathews was being planned, the sequel was never made. Swift's novel also served as the basis for the 1939 Paramount Pictures animated film Gulliver's Travels directed by Dave Fleischer. For information on that and other screen adaptations, see that entry in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40.
Released in United States on Video June 16, 1988
Released in United States Winter December 1960
Released in United States on Video June 16, 1988
Released in United States Winter December 1960