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“John Henry and the Inky-Poo” January 18, 2008

Posted by Jeff in 1946 through 1960, Cartoons, Movies, Puppetoons.

John Henry’s home The last completed movie my father ever worked on was his personal favorite.

The narrator of “John Henry and the Inky-Poo,” Rex Ingram, had become famous as De Lawd in the movie of Marc Connelly’s The Green Pastures, as the genie in the 1940 The Thief Of Bagdad and as Jim to Mickey Rooney’s Huck Finn. “John Henry” was George Pal’s Fantasia, his attempt to atone for the not-so-subtle racism of his Jasper shorts.

In 1948, the year after “John Henry and the Inky-Poo,” the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that movie studios had to divest their theater holdings. There was no longer a profit motive for studios to maintain shorts departments, and very shortly afterwards Dad and most of the Puppetoon unit were permanently laid off.

After subsisting on industrial films for a few years, George Pal made a second career for himself as the producer and special-effects wizard behind such classics as The Time Machine and The War Of The Worlds. Reg Massie’s second career was as an art director for such magazines as The Reporter and Gourmet, at which he made a happy and comfortable life for himself and his family — myself eventually included.

Dad was the inspiration for the character of Max in my screenplay Tabula Rasa, and my screenplay Equity is dedicated to my parents.

Here are other Puppetoons designed by Reginald Massie.

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1. Mike Hankin - December 28, 2006

Dear Jeff,

I have just discovered your site and would like you to know that I am at present writing a book on the George Pal puppet films.
This is a follow-up to my book on Ray Harryhausen, called Ray Harryhausen: Master of the Majicks, to be published by Archive Editions of Los Angeles late next year.
Writing a book on the Puppetoons has been difficult, because so many that worked with George Pal in his early career are no longer with us. However, although I live in England, I did visit Los Angeles a few years back and interviewed Mrs Pal, Wah Chang, Duke Goldstone, Gene Warren, Jim Danforth (for later Puppetoon work) and Bob Baker. Jim and Bob still continue to help me.
I want to find out more about the people who worked at the McCadden studio, and would love to hear from you about your father.
Please let me know if you can help bring the Puppetoons back to life in my forthcoming book.
Kindest Regards
Mike Hankin

2. brendan mcnally - January 1, 2007

Gee Mike, that sure sound like a great subject for a book. I rediscovered Puppettoons last year after a 40-some year hiatus. They’re great. George Pal is a great subject. I’m wondering if you’ve contacted Arnold Lebovit? He did the tribute movie to him about twenty years ago. good luck on it. I’ll definitely have my eye out for it…

3. Mike Hankin - July 31, 2007

Dear Brendan,
Sorry it took me so long to reply. Many, many reasons.
Yes, I know Arnold Lebovit. I filmed the interview with Charlton Heston that appeared in The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal (I am down in the credits as additional cameraman, but I actually did the interviewing and never touched the camera).
Work on the Puppetoon book is progressing well. I will be covering in depth the period from George Pal’s birth to the end of the American Puppetoon series, but will also touch on the later minor appearances of the Puppetoon process.
With the help of two archives in Germany and Holland I recently uncovered two unlisted European films, plus unpublished interviews with three of the people he worked with in Germany and Holland. I think some of the advances he made in the Puppetoon technique while in Europe will surprise a lot of people.
I would be grateful to hear from anyone who has stories to tell about this period of George Pal’s career.

4. Mark - January 11, 2009


Send me a note – I have some Puppetoon stuff you may want.

Mike Hankin - April 24, 2009

So sorry for the delay in replying to your offer, but I have been inundated with continuing work on the next volume of my Harryhausen books.
You can contact me directly at mike.majicks@btinternet.com.
I shall look forward to hearing from you.

5. General Anaesthetic Taking the edge off. - September 13, 2009

[…] Video found via Maxzook. […]

6. Lila Griffith - February 8, 2010

I have found a picture by REG Massie and would like to know if anyone knows more about it. It is a picture of a horse drawn carriage amidst buildings of a farm and scenery. Thank you. Lila Griffith

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