tom thumb (1958) starring Russ Tamblyn, Alan Young, June Thorburn, Terry-Thomas, Peter Sellers directed by George Pal - movie review on The Movie Scene

tom thumb (1958)   3/53/53/53/53/5


Russ Tamblyn in tom thumb (1958)

Small Character, Small Story

Jonathan (Bernard Miles) the Woodcutter is out in the forest one day when out of nowhere the Forest Queen (June Thorburn) appears and in return for not chopping down a grand old tree she permits him and his wife Anne (Jessie Matthews) three wishes. When Jonathan returns home Anne doesn't believe them before Jonathan accidentally uses a wish to have a sausage and before they know it they have used up all three wishes. Thankfully they get a bonus wish which comes true when tom thumb (Russ Tamblyn) appears as they always wanted a son but could never have one. But Tom is a naive young man and he falls foul of two con men Ivan (Terry-Thomas) and Antony (Peter Sellers) who trick him into stealing some gold which in turn leads to his parents being accused of the crime and tom needing his friend Woody's (Alan Young) help to free them.

Lessons I have learned from reviewing movies include not all movies watched as a child are as good when watched many years later as a grown up. It isn't a new lesson as many know this but it is one I am reminded of having watched the musical "tom thumb" for the first time in over 30 years and being slightly under whelmed by a movie which I loved when I watched it as a young child. Don't get me wrong as it still has its plus points but as a grown up the lack of storyline becomes evident which makes it a little bit of a slog.

Alan Young and June Thorburn in tom thumb (1958)

That lack of storyline comes from the fact what we have is basically two thieves tricking tom thumb into stealing gold, his parents getting blamed, tom thumb and his friend Woody trying to clear them by capturing the real culprits and Woody being sweet on the Forest Queen. It probably sounds a fair bit but in truth it isn't and there are several scenes of relative nothing-ness, in fairness colourful nothing-ness but still nothing-ness.

But in a way being colourful is what "tom thumb" is all about because it is the look and energy of it which is entertaining and to be frank the special effects. As such the best parts of the movie are the musical numbers be it the cobbler singing about his dancing shoes or watching tom thumb dance with all the toys which come to life. In fact the combination of song and the special effects of Russ Tamblyn being made to look really tiny are what make "tom thumb" still entertaining.

On the subject of Russ Tamblyn he certainly brings as much life as he can to the role of tom thumb and the various scenes of him dancing be it with the toys or sliding around in little porcelain clogs are pretty good. Also pretty good is the combination of Terry-Thomas and Peter Sellers as a couple of crooks. But whilst there is also Alan Young bringing some Danny Kaye style warmth and humour to the movie there is a strange sadness as well when you see the attractive June Thorburn as the Forest Queen who was taken from us far too soon.

What this all boils down to is that "tom thumb" is still an entertaining and lively musical but the slim storyline lets it down when watched as a grown up. It also has to be mentioned that it is a product of its time and in the scene where tom dances with the toys there are a couple of characters which would now be deemed politically incorrect, something worth knowing if you want to watch it with children.


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