Three stories from the Grimms are presented here, intertwined with a highly fictionalized look at the lives of the brothers, Wilhelm (Harvey) and Jacob (Boehm). Early in the 1800s, the brothers are asked to write the family history of their employer, a tyrannical Duke (Oscar Homolka). They istead write a series of fairy tales, starting with "The
Dancing Princess," in which princess Mimieux confounds her father, the king (Backus), by wearing out one pair of slippers a day. The king hires a woodsman, Tamblyn, to trail the princess, who dances with the gypsies, and eventually Tamblyn and Mimieux fall in love. "The Cobbler and the Elves" stars
Harvey as an aged cobbler who neglects his customers to carve elves for orphans who have no presents for Christmas. Exhausted, he falls asleep, and his creations come to life and finish the neglected work. The final story, "The Singing Bone," tells of a humble servant, Hackett, who kills a
fire-breathing dragon and is killed in turn by his boss, Terry-Thomas, who takes all the credit for the dragon's slaying. One of Hackett's bones becomes a musical instrument that exposes the boss's lies. When Terry-Thomas admits the truth, Hackett returns to life and becomes Terry-Thomas' boss.
Produced by the masterful Puppetoon creator George Pal, the film boasts a number of technically impressive scenes, especially those of the elves in the cobbler shop. It won an Oscar for Best Costume Design and was nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Score.
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