TABLE, DONKEY & STICK
(c1968), Color, 79 minutes
presented by K. Gordon Murray
Adaptation from the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm
English adaptation by Reuben Guberman (as “Rubin Guberman”)
Edited by J.R. Remy
Associate Producer: Sheldon M. Schermer
Assistant Director: Thomas Finucane
Script Clerk: Diana McAtee
Produced by K. Gordon Murray
Directed by Reuben Guberman (as “Rubin Guberman”)
Voices: Paul Nagel, Marge Nagel (uncredited)
(1956), West Germany, Color, 79 minutes
Directed by Fritz Genschow
Executive Producer: F. W. Schlüter
Story: Jacob Kudwig Carl Grimm, Wilhelm Carl Grimm
Cast: Werner Stock (Tailor), Wolfgang Draeger (Peter), Harald Dietl (Paul), Horst Keitel (Hans), Rita Maria Nowottny-Genschow (Kathy), Wulf Rittscher (Wirt), Fritz Genschow (Woodworker)
This long-lost, long-sought U.S./German fairy tale, recently rediscovered (in Indiana!), is everything you could hope for in a bizarre ’60s kiddie matinee flick: garish color, intrusive dubbing, bizarre songs, lots of goofy dancing, dialogue largely spoken in rhyme, young men chasing girls everywhere, a few jolting visuals, overall a weird scene and a memorable picture.
This film boasts a whopping 24 songs, (call them “mini-songs”: many are quite short), and some of them are wild, to be sure. The theme song also appears to be sung in muddy English, although we could make neither heads nor tails of it.
It’s fun to hear Paul Nagel’s distinctive “growl” as the narrator, and also as the Tailor (and possibly the Mayor?) Nagel’s indelible drawl adorned most (all?) of the Murray/German fairy titles, from the infernal RUMPELSTILTSKIN onward.
This faithful telling of the classic Grimm Brothers fable is both lyrical and evocative, using many picturesque period locations.
Characters talk to the audience alot, asking the kiddies to confirm what they’re thinking. An odd touch, and a nice one. And there are an unusually large number of attractive women in the film, which make it even more pleasing to the eye.
Certainly one of the oddest aspects of this queer fable is the magic donkey, which can both vomit and crap gold coins! Although there is only one brief shot, toward the end, of the latter magical function, it is enough to launch this Murray fairy tale right into psychotronic heaven!
Long-lost, now found, here is a fractured fairy tale classic to treasure and adore!
* Even after receiving our review copy of this obscure kiddie spectacle, there is still an aspect of mystery about TABLE, DONKEY AND STICK. Specifically, its original production credits remain elusive. The only foreign name mentioned in the English-language version is “Executive Producer: F.W. Schluter”, an obscure German producer of low-budget family films (including the long-running “Immenhof” series.)
Thanks to our German correspondant Mike Schneider, we now know that the Murray release of TABLE, DONKEY AND STICK is from the 1956 film directed by Fritz Genschow. And here’s another fun tidbit: the actor who plays Peter, Wolfgang Dreager, dubbed the voice of Woody Allen in his movies released in Germany!
* The Something Weird Video release of TABLE, DONKEY AND STICK is quite fetching, from a 16mm TV print that still has alot of color left in it. There are a bunch of wonderful and rare trailers for other “Kiddie Matinee” wonders after the feature, including two “lost” films, SANTA’S CHRISTMAS CIRCUS and THE PRINCESS AND THE MAGIC FROG, so this is video is a must-have for all collectors of fairy tale cinema.
* (updated 02-14-06) Thanks to a terrific new book we just received, “Ghouls, Gimmicks and Gold” by Kevin Heffernan, (2004, Duke University Press), we have been able to update the U.S. television release date for this Murray fairy tale title to 1965. The appendices to this study of the horror film in America, circa 1955-1968, include complete listings of syndication feature film packages from many distributors, including American International Television, who subleased the K. Gordon Murray fairy tales catalog under the title THE WONDER WORLD OF K. GORDON MURRAY. It seems that 1965 was the watershed year for genre film sold to television, with a veritable flood of titles released by both domestic and foreign distribs.
(from the collection of Erika Peters; many thanks to Mike Schneider.)
color, mono, fullscreen, special restored edition! DVD-R comes package as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!