Gulliver is a simple doctor who just wants to help people (and make a lot money, too!), but all his patients pay him in chickens and cabbages. Obviously, he wouldn’t be complaining so much if they were paying him in sexual favors or stock tips or something, but you know what cabbage does to the innards, so this isn’t exactly a job that is going to keep the missus happy.
In fact, his woman, Elizabeth, wants to buy a broken down cottage in the bad part of town, but once Gulliver is there, he manages to bust up the door and she falls down on her face. Gulliver determines that there is no way he’s going to have his old lady live in a rat trap like that, so he does what any self respecting male with a ball and chain would do in that situation. He signs up for a sea voyage of fun and frivolity to the East Indies!
Somehow sailing over there without his woman is going to make him rich and important, but no sooner is Gulliver at sea whining about how the boat constantly rocks back and forth than a stowaway is discovered. She’s a blonde little trollop who goes by the name of Elizabeth! Wah, wah, wah, waaaaah! As you might imagine, once he sees that the love of his life is on the boat, he promptly gets himself washed overboard. Can you say “suicide attempt?”
Gulliver gets washed up on shore and finds himself in Lilliput, a land of tiny people. You get your big scene where he’s all tied up in that midget bondage stuff that Brits of that time period seem to fancy so much and eventually they let him up and he discovers that they are in the midst of a tedious egg war with a group of other little people.
One of the irritating things about this part of the movie is that they simulate Gulliver being really big by having his voice deepened and somehow this manages to drain any emotion from the voice, so it’s like listening to the HAL 9000.
Kerwin Matthews obviously was no master thespian (see also Jack the Giant Killer and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad), but without his real voice, things are made even worse and you quickly cease to care about Gulliver and his plight.
After trying to make Lilliput a paradise by clearing away some forest and destroying its opponent’s navy, Gulliver gets fed up with Lilliput, admits that he never even liked eggs and rows away in his rowboat. He makes landfall somewhere else and now the tables are turned and he’s a little guy in a world of giants!
Some little (for giants anyway) girl scoops him up and takes him back to the palace of the king and there waiting for him is Elizabeth! She and Gulliver are both seen as prized possessions by the king and they get hooked up with a sweet little doll house for them to live in.
Of course the little lady loves living in her Barbie Dreamhouse and Gulliver seems okay with it until he makes the king mad by beating him at chess. It is quickly determined that Gulliver must be some type of witch and the palace sorcerer attempts to prove that Gulliver is a witch.
This is done mainly through having Gulliver swim in a bunch of liquid that will turn him blue if he is a witch. With his knowledge of chemistry, Gulliver is able to pull the old switcheroo on this quack and rigs up so the water turns him red.
Unfortunately he promptly brags about how he used his knowledge of chemistry to pull the old switcheroo and they figure he must be a witch because of that! Whoops!
Gulliver gets himself put on trial and this involves him fighting one of those stop motion crocodiles that Ray Harryhausen keeps in his backyard swimming pool. Gulliver defeats him, but the king still wants Gulliver executed, so Gulliver and his woman escape and end up floating down stream in a child’s sewing basket.
I thought it showed a lot of moxie by the film makers to end a movie that was so difficult to sit through with what was probably the worst chase scene ever filmed. Watching these giants trying to chase a basket that is lazily floating down a stream, but never ever able to catch up with it, will turn your stomach.
At one point they desperately hurl rocks down at the basket from a bridge, but no one ever thinks of just scurrying down the banks, running into the stream and catching it. Oh and this is also one of those streams that immediately flows into the Atlantic Ocean. What a lucky break!
The acting in this one leaves much to be desired, particularly during the Lilliput segment where the “actors” appear to have been herded off the street and onto the set the same day. The satire is at times painfully obvious, Kerwin Matthews is entirely forgettable, and Gulliver’s adventures are so deadly dull, you’re just thankful you were only subjected to three of his worlds. Perhaps not surprisingly, the highlight of the film was when a squirrel dumped a giant nut on Gulliver’s head.
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