Archive for The Great Rupert

A Festive Infestation

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on December 26, 2020 by dcairns

Terry Moore, like Brendan Fraser, seems to have preferred animated co-stars: MIGHTY JOE YOUNG or, as in our Christmas Eve viewing, THE GREAT RUPERT, who is a George Pal animated squirrel. Although he’s sometimes real. His Svengali in the movie is Jimmy Conlin, a kind of Gepetto figure, a former lion tamer (I would like to see that act) who has trained Rupert to near-human responsiveness and dressed him in a tam o’shanter and kilt. If Conlin is Gepetto, this verminous Pinocchio confusingly keeps changing from real to uncanny valley puppet and back again. “Kilted roadkill,” Fiona calls him.

As a special-effects film, it’s one of Pal’s few bad ideas: Rupert is called upon to nod attentively, cock his head, and very occasionally dance. The rest of the time he behaves like a well-trained squirrel. Maybe squirrels are insanely hard to train. I wouldn’t know, but neither would any child watching this. So the sense of wonder isn’t really engaged. Also, both incarnations of Rupert spend most of their time offscreen.

Still, there’s Jimmy Durante, a special effect in himself.

THE GREAT RUPERT stars Smiler Grogan; Marie Buckholder; John Truett; Duffy; Mildred Cassaway; Wormy; Walt Spoon; Maleficent’s Goon; Dr. Kluck; and Sandor (who also directs)