THE BEAU HUNKS
PUPPETS, ROCKETS AND MINARETS
The main image for the Chesterfield Arrangements cover was inspired by George Pal's Puppetoons, and by a still from Just Imagine, a science fiction musical from 1930. The Turkish background comes both from the Twilight in Turkey tune, and from the Turkish motif used by the cigarette brand which sponsored Paul Whiteman's radio show.
George Pal produced beautiful animated films using wooden puppets throughout the thirties and forties, before going on to make live action films like War of the Worlds and The Time Machine. His 1941 Puppetoon Rhythm in the Ranks featured Raymond Scott's The Toy Trumpet, one of the compositions included on the Chesterfield album.
Tim Fitzpatrick's exellent puppet animation site,
Animation of Heaven & Hell in 3-D, has an extensive Puppetoon section. You can also read about George Pal and purchase some of his films at scifistation.com.
Just Imagine was produced in 1930 as a musical American response to Fritz Lang's Metropolis. It depicts the fantastic future of1980 as seen through the eyes of a man called Single O who has spent fifty years in suspended animation after being hit on the head by a golf ball. It also features a boy called J-21 who loves a girl, LN-18, and a rocket trip to Mars.
I've only ever seen very short clips of this film, and I know of it mainly from these fantastic stills showing the enormous model multi-level skyscraper city with air traffic zooming between the towers. The photo of the lovers' rendezvous above the city is the one which fed the Raymond Scott cover.
The set designer was Stephen Goosson, and special effects, including the 85 x 25 metre model city, were by Ralph Hammeras. Mr. Hammeras had worked on The Lost World with Willis O'Brien five years earlier, and went on to do special effects on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954). There is an exellent article about him in CINEFEX no. 15.
Grand Central Rocket has a page on the spaceship in Just Imagine. The same rocket was later re-used in the Flash Gordon serial. You'll find lots on old movie serials in Images issue 4.
You can also read and see more about Just Imagine in Film Architecture - From Metropolis to Blade Runner, a book edited by Dietrich Neumann and published by Prestel.
As Mr. Neumann points out, the city in Just Imagine was heavily influenced by the architectural visions of Hugh Ferriss, Raymond Hood and Harvey Wiley Corbett.
Unless otherwise stated, all contents © Kellie Strøm.
Film and book review images are © their respective copyright holders.
Puppetoon is a registered trademark of Arnold Leibovit Productions Ltd. All Rights
Reserved. Puppetoon images © Arnold Leibovit Productions Ltd.
Published by www.balsko.com.
Above: The woodenhead stars of George Pal's Together in the Weather, and a Screwball Army aircraft from Tulips Shall Grow.
The lovers meet in the sky, from Just Imagine
Scientists wake Single O from suspended animation.
Single O gives a golf demonstration to the scientists.
Rocket to Mars.
Meanwhile, as Just Imagine was being made in the US, High Treason (Maurice Elvey, 1929) was showing cinemagoers a future Britain.
London as it will be in 1940, from High Treason.