tom thumb is very much an extension of the Puppetoons, a series of 40+ stop-motion animated childrens shorts that George Pal made between 1941 and 1947. The lively stop-motion animated sequences with the toys dancing in the nursery are pure Puppetoons. Unfortunately, these sequences seem extraneous and not tied to the plot. They are also the best sequences in the film. The live-action sequences however reveal all of George Pals faults writ large. George Pals films functioned best as special effects spectacles. At their finest, they achieved a genuine sense of wonder. On the human side, the acting was uniformly stolid and any subtext that existed was shot through with the dreadful piousness of Pals Catholic faith.
Some people have a liking for tom thumb and consider it a classic, most treat it tolerably, but I found it tedious. It is draggy, the songs are insipid and the production is cloying banal. The sets and costumes are dreary Pals conjurtaion of Mittel Europe is all Tyrolean hats and lederhosen, the Queen of the Forest wears an absurd white dress and a matching garland of flowers in her hair. It is a stiflingly bland representation of Middle America with only a token nod in the direction of the Brothers Grimm Bernard Miles and Jessie Matthews poor, dumb and happy woodcutter and his wife, rejoicing in family sentiment, become sickeningly twee.
With the exception of an incredibly dull performance from June Thorburn, the cast try to be lively Russ Tamblyn and Alan Young respectively bounce and sing with enthusiasm. Terry-Thomas and Peter Sellers have fun as the two blackguards (Sellers made up with an extra fifty pounds and Terry-Thomas with a blacked-out tooth that amusingly changes its position throughout) but Pal turns their scenes together into an interminably drawn out series of slapstick beatings, bashings and kicks up the ass.
George Pals other genre films are The Great Rupert (1949), Destination Moon (1950), When Worlds Collide (1951), The War of the Worlds (1953), The Naked Jungle (1954), Conquest of Space (1955), The Time Machine (1960), Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961), The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962), 7 Faces of Dr Lao (1964), The Power (1967) and Doc Savage The Man of Bronze (1975).