Ray Harryhausen’s Fairy Tales (DVD)(2016)


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Special effects master Ray Harryhausen got his start with these rare stop-motion adaptations of popular fairy tales! The young Harryhausen had spent World War II working under Colonel Frank Capra in the U.S. Army’s Special Services Division, making military films. By war’s end, Ray had salvaged enough leftover 16 mm stock to make his first short, an anthology of classic fairy tales called The Mother Goose Stories (1946). Astonishingly, Harryhausen animated every single frame of the film himself, with his parents helping with the elaborate costuming and detailed sets. He then successfully distributed the film to schools, where it became a staple of rainy day assemblies. After a stint working with his mentor Willis O’Brien on Mighty Joe Young, Ray returned to short subjects with The Story of Little Red Riding Hood (1949). Three more fairy tales followed, all adapted by Charlotte Knight, a Los Angeles City College drama teacher who would later write 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957). Ray’s love for classic cinema is apparent throughout all the films, with characters based on cult figures like Jean Marais (Beauty and the Beast) and Max Schreck (Nosferatu). Though Ray intended to continue the series, hoping to make enough for a TV syndication package, the opportunity to make a science fiction movie, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1957), brought the fairy tales to an end. Though great successes like The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) and Jason and the Argonauts (1963) followed, Ray always remained fond of his first films. Now the master’s early genius is on full display in this one-of-a-kind collection! The Mother Goose Stories (1946) The Story of Little Red Riding Hood (1949) The Story of Hansel and Gretell (1951) The Story of Rapunzel (1951) The Story of King Midas (1953) BONUS: Little Red Riding Hood (Color, 1949): An alternate take on the classic fairy tale from the same year as Ray Harryhausen’s version, starring “The Wahmann Hand Puppets” (in their first and only film appearance.)


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