George Pal’s fantasy films as a producer, director and animator featured a wide range of subjects and styles that cleverly bridged artistic imagination with technical ingenuity despite limited budgets. Pal’s Hollywood career began with “Puppetoons” – animated shorts that featured stop-motion wooden puppets in fairy tale worlds – and continued with live-action feature films that created indelible images of “futuristic” space flights, invading Martians, journeying through time, and a one-of-a-kind traveling circus. His pioneering efforts in visual effects spectacles inspired the films that are today’s box office blockbusters.
The Pal centennial celebration included new prints of “Rhythm in the Ranks” (1941) and “John Henry and the Inky Poo” (1946), restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in cooperation with the Academy Film Archive. A panel discussion with Pal collaborators Bob Baker (Puppetoon animator), Barbara Eden (Greta Heinrich in “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm” and Angela Benedict in “7 Faces of Dr. Lao”), Ann Robinson (Sylvia Van Buren in “The War of the Worlds”), Russ Tamblyn (Tom Thumb in “Tom Thumb”) and Mickey Moore (assistant director of “The War of the Worlds”) followed. The evening concluded with a screening of the George Pal production “The War of the Worlds” in its entirety.