THE GOLDEN GOOSE
(1966), Eastman Colorscope, 66 minutes
Presented by K. Gordon Murray
Produced by K. Gordon Murray
Directed by Paul Nagel
(“an adaptation of the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm”)
English Adaptation: Paul Nagel
Associate Producer: Sheldon M. Schermer
Assistant Director: Thomas Finucane
Editor: J. R. Remy
Script Clerk: Diana McAtee
DIE GOLDENE GANS
(1964), East Germany, Color, 67 minutes
Prodcued by DEFA
Produced by Gunter Kaltofen
Directed by Siegfried Hartmann
Story: The Brothers Grimm
Cast: Kaspar Eichel (Karl), Karin Ugowski (the Princess)
After RUMPELSTILTSKIN, anything would be a pleasure, and THE GOLDEN GOOSE is surely a pleasurable experience, light where RUMPELSTILTSKIN is dreary, colorful where RUMPELSTILTSKIN is drab, and lyrical where RUMPELSTILTSKIN is pedantic. There’s even some elementary swashbuckling, action sorely lacking in RUMPELSTILTSKIN and other Murray tales.
In this, the wackiest and randiest of the German fairy tales released here by Murray, played largely for laughs, three brothers are tested by fate to see who’s greedy and who’s generous. The lone good one is “rewarded” with a magical golden goose. One soon wonders if this gift is more a blessing or a curse. Suddenly, everyone comes out of the woodwork, to get a piece of his good fortune. As our female narrator says Society parasitically clings to an individual’s creative force, yet we are all connected, through the flesh, through our greed, and all thus contaminated by each other. What a lovely pre-AIDs AIDs metaphor! This most interesting treatise on how the machinations of the spirits can sometimes intervene for human good and instruction shares some of the same weirdo charm as the Mexican fairy tales.
There are also some interesting sets, and eccentric characters like the hero’s daffy brothers, and various odd royalty with names like “Troublemaker” and “Wiserthan”. The good brother does all the work and is treated like dirt by the others, in a gender inversion of the Cinderella story.
The Princess isn’t just sad, she’s seriously depressed. The title goose looks more tin than gold. Just so you know it’s a Murray picture, there’s a really awful song called “Butterfly,” sung by a red-haired, pig-tailed, gabby village gal. Other bad mini-songs include “The Shoemaker’s Song,” “1 & 1.”
* This great K. Gordon Murray fairy tale is now available on VHS home video, from the folks at Something Weird Video, with great trailers from the golden age of the Kiddie Matinee! Buy yours today!
* “THE GOLDEN GOOSE was a stiff,” laments Murray associate Sheldon Schermer. “Didn’t have the pull of RUMPELSTILTSKIN;” which proves, if anything, the power of marketing over content.
* A short sequence from THE GOLDEN GOOSE made it into Murray’s fairy tale anthologies SANTA’S FANTASY FAIR and MOTHER GOOSE’ BIRTHDAY PARTY, coexisting rather nicely with excerpts from the wilder, Mexican tales.
* Wonder of wonders, THE GOLDEN GOOSE has now obtained an English-language release on DVD! It’s on the “Tales of Europe” series, with similar packaging as the German DEFA video collection, which includes titles like FRAU HOLLE and KONIG DROSSELBART. Do we dare hope that some of these will make it to our shores in lovely DVD versions in the near future?
* (01-01-05) Phil Lindholm supplies us with this hilarious review of THE GOLDEN GOOSE, from The New York Times, of all places! “THE GOLDEN GOOSE is a leaden reenactment of the story of the goose that laid the golden eggs, with a cast of simpering performers, and a tired, unhonking goose dyed muddy yellow.” Ouch!