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George Pal

Destination Moon (1950)

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The UCLA Film & Television Archive collections include a large body of work by filmmaker George Pal (1908-1980). Included in the Archive's holdings are Puppetoons and other animated shorts, as well as Pal's science-fiction features including Destination Moon (1950), When Worlds Collide (1951) and The War of the Worlds (1953). This film collection is complemented by the George Pal Papers, consisting of Pal's scripts and artwork, held at UCLA's Arts Library.

Originally from Hungary, Pal came to Hollywood in 1940. At Paramount, he fully developed his Puppetoon technique for which he subsequently received an honorary Academy Award. The Puppetoons were animated wooden puppets set against papier-mache and cardboard backgrounds. The puppets and backgrounds were intricately detailed and ornately decorated. The Puppetoons are an extension of Pal's unique imagination. One example was the Screwball Army--puppets composed of nuts and bolts which parodied a fictional totalitarian regime. Other Puppetoon creations were Jasper and his two friends, Professor Scarecrow and Blackbird. These characters, who appeared in a number of Puppetoon shorts, are key examples of racist stereotyping of African Americans in American popular culture.

Over time Pal's imagination drew him to special effects. In the early fifties he became a producer—and eventually, director/producer—of science-fiction and adventure films involving trick photography. Pal went on to win five Academy Awards for Special Effects.

To arrange onsite research viewing access, please contact the Archive Research and Study Center (ARSC).

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