George Pal - Rotten Tomatoes

George Pal

Highest Rated:   100% Seven Faces of Dr. Lao (1964)
Lowest Rated:   60% Conquest of Space (1955)
Birthday:  
Birthplace:   Cegléd, Hungary
Trained as an architect at the Budapest Academy of the Arts, Hungarian filmmaker George Pal had trouble securing work in his chosen profession in the late 1920s; to keep food on the table, he designed "art" subtitles for silent films. At the Berlin studios of UFA in 1931, Pal began designing sets, then cultivated an interest in stop-motion animation. Moving to Holland in 1933, Pal produced a group of animated puppet shorts for Phillips Radio of Holland. Reportedly, Pal's European career was cut short when he had the temerity to produce an anti-fascist allegorical short. Pal arrived in the U.S. in 1939 to lecture at Columbia University, where he was approached by representatives of Paramount Pictures, who were interested in releasing a series of Pal-produced animated one-reelers. Beginning in 1940, Pal was responsible for the Puppettoons series (also known as Madcap Marionettes), a lucrative property that won the producer a special Oscar in 1943. Seen today, the Puppetoons remain dazzling technical achievements, even though their storylines range from skimpy to bewildering. The best of the Puppetoons include John Henry and the Inky-Poo, Tubby the Tuba, and the "Jasper and the Scarecrow" series. After filming a special animated sequence for the 1947 feature film Variety Girl, Pal and Paramount parted company. He became an independent producer with the 1950 Jimmy Durante comedy The Great Rupert, in which Durante costarred with an animated squirrel. Pal's next project, the slow-moving but visually exciting science-fiction endeavor Destination Moon (1950), won an Academy Award for best special effects. Back at Paramount in 1951, Pal inherited two unproduced sci-fi properties from Cecil B. DeMille. The resultant films, When Worlds Collide (1951) and War of the Worlds (1951), added two more special-effects Oscars to Pal's mantle. Curiously, his first non-fantasy Paramount production, Houdini (1953), was utterly unconvincing in recreating Houdini's legendary illusions (that "jump cut" as Houdini saws his wife in half is particualarly offensive). Pal's remaining Paramount productions were equally disappointing, but he made up for his past missteps with his first directorial assignment (which he also produced), MGM's Tom Thumb. This imaginative musical comedy not only won Pal his fourth Oscar, but also happily revived his "Puppetoon" concept, now smoother and more convincing than ever. Oscar number five was bestowed upon the special effects for Pal's The Time Machine (1960), which falters in the dramatic scenes (he never was comfortable directing people) but excells in its vision of the future. The cheapjack Atlantis the Lost Continent (1961) was next, followed by the Cinerama "special" The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962), which had as its main attractions a screenful of Pupppetoon elves and a fire-breathing dragon. Many of Pal's fans consider 1964's Seven Faces of Dr. Lao his finest work. Unfortunately Lao was a bit too rareified to succeed at the box office, and it would be a decade before Pal would direct his next -- and last -- film. Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975), a serviceable adventure romp, was weakened by post-production efforts to "camp" the material (e.g. adding an animated gleam to the hero's eye). The failure of Doc Savage prevented Pal from raising the necessary funds for his proposed series of science-fiction films in the late 1970s. As one fan has noted, Pal may have been too nice a guy to survive in the sharktank Hollywood of the era. Nonetheless, the George Pal legend has endured long after his death in 1980. Devotees are referred to two recent retrospective films, the semi-documentary Fantasy World of George Pal (1986) and the compilation feature The Puppetoon Movie (1987).

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
No Score Yet Animation in the Netherlands
  • Actor
1990
No Score Yet The Puppetoon Movie
  • Director
1987
No Score Yet Fantasy World Of George Pal
  • Actor
1986
No Score Yet The Fantasy Film World of George Pal
  • Actor
1985
No Score Yet Doc Savage---The Man of Bronze
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter
1975
No Score Yet The Power
  • Producer
1968
100% Seven Faces of Dr. Lao
  • Director
  • Producer
1964
No Score Yet The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm
  • Producer
  • Director
1962
No Score Yet Atlantis, the Lost Continent
  • Producer
  • Director
1961
77% The Time Machine
  • Director
  • Producer
1960
100% tom thumb
  • Producer
  • Director
1958
60% Conquest of Space
  • Producer
1955
86% The Naked Jungle
  • Producer
1954
85% The War of the Worlds
  • Bum
  • Producer
1953
83% Houdini
  • Producer
1953
77% When Worlds Collide
  • Producer
1951
No Score Yet A Christmas Wish (The Great Rupert)
  • Producer
1950
60% Destination Moon
  • Producer
1950
No Score Yet Tubby the Tuba
  • Director
  • Producer
1947
No Score Yet Shoe Shine Jasper
  • Director
1947

Quotes from George Pal's Characters

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