(directors: Henry Levin/George Pal; screenwriters: Charles Beaumont/based on the stories of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm; cinematographer: Paul Vogel; editor: Walter Thompson; music: Leigh Harline; cast: Laurence Harvey (Wilhelm Grimm/The Cobbler), Karl Bohm (Jacob Grimm), Claire Bloom (Dorothea Grimm), Barbara Eden (Greta Heinrich), Yvette Mimieux (The Princess), Jim Backus (The King), Russ Tamblyn (The Woodsman/Tom Thumb), Buddy Hackett (Hans), Terry-Thomas (Ludwig), Beulah Bondi (The Gypsy), Oscar Homolka(The Duke),Martita Hunt (Anna Richter, Story Teller), Arnold Stang (Rumpelstiltskin), Ian Wolfe (Gruber); Runtime: 136; MPAA Rating: G; producer: George Pal; MGM; 1962)

Fanciful biography of the early 19th century German fairy-tale collectors.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Henry Levin (“Genghis Khan”/”Murderers’ Row”/”The Desperados”) gleefully directs this fanciful biography of the early 19th century German fairy-tale collectors, Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm (Karl Bohm & Laurence Harvey), the legendary brothers Grimm. George Pal shares directorial honors with Levin, as the producer also is responsible for directing the imaginative Fairy Tales sequences. It was shot in the short-lived Cinerama process (it made its debut in 1952, as a means of overcoming the threat of television; the process used three projectors working to create a three-paneled wide-screen panorama).

The pic is divided into four parts. The first part tells of how the struggling brothers started out their career commissioned to work on the family history for the Duke (Oscar Homolka), with Jacob as the more practical one and Wilhelm as the dreamer. Wilhelm’s long-suffering wife is Dorothea (Claire Bloom), while Greta (Barbara Eden) is the future bride of Jacob. The other parts reenact three of their fairy tales, as the brothers in due time become famous for their collection of fairy tales.

The Dancing Princess: The rich traditional tale of true love coming to a princess (Yvette Mimieux) with a charming woodsman (Russ Tamblyn).

The Cobbler and the Elves: A workaholic shoemaker (Laurence Harvey) oversleeps on Christmas Eve and elves suddenly emerge to help him complete his orders.

The Singing Bone: The cowardly knight Sir Ludwig (Terry-Thomas) must face a fire-spouting dragon threatening the village, who is killed by his manservant Hans (Buddy Hackett). Ludwig then kills Hans and takes credit for the kill.

Parts of it are heavy-handed and the biography info is limited, but overall it’s entertaining as family fare–with Pal’s Puppetoons stealing the scenery in the toy shop sequence. It has an endearing syrupy charm and a few choice moments of true inspiration, as it appeals to children as well as adults.

Mary Wills won an Oscar for costumes.

The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm Poster