A down on their luck family, the Amendolas, (Jimmie Durante, Queenie Smith, and Terry Moore) have been out of work for months since their "human pyramid" vaudeville act is no longer popular. They've no money but manage to rent, without prepaying a month's rent, a small, ramshackle, one room dwelling from Frank Dingle (Frank Orth) who is a tight, cynical man. The previous occupant, Joe Mahoney (Jimmie Conlin), is also a destitute vaudevillian who cant't get any bookings for his trained squirrel act (Rupery - Himself the Squirrel). Mahoney vacates the premises without paying back rent and has to leave Rupert in a near by park. It's Christmas time and although Mr. Amendolas maintains his optimism and high spirits, the future looks grim. But then Rupert returns to the premises and the fun begins "when money is sent from heaven." There is a budding romance, a change of heart by a life long curmudgeon, an underlying faith in the power and importance of generosity and a happy ending for all - even Rupert. A fantasy world indeed but a charming and uplifting one. Best of all is Jimmie Durante - as ever, highly entertaining and engaging. I particularly enjoy his idiosyncratic singing style, in this case, his rendition of "Jingle Bells." For its day, the animation is also good. This movie is a winner and one the whole family can enjoy.
The Great Rupert (1950) 720p YIFY Movie
The Great Rupert (1950)
A little squirrel with lots of charm accidentally helps two poor, down-but-NOT-out families overcome their obstacles.
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A whimsical, delightful filmReviewed byPaularocVote: 8/10
For a few years after "The Great Rupert" debuted on the silver screen, it became something of a holiday favorite and was shown on TV in the early 1950s. It definitely has a Christmas theme. By 1950, vaudeville was all but forgotten by movie-goers and a public that was streaming to stores to buy TV sets. The younger generation who were small children before World War II never got to see stage shows anyway.
So, this story based around a vaudeville family in 1950 must have seemed even a little strange in 1950. Of course, the younger folks would have heard about the old shows from parents and grandparents. And the adults - well, they might just have recalled a favorite routine or act they had seen on the stage of the past.
"The Great Rupert" is one of the few films in which Jimmy Durante had top billing and the lead role. With his gruff voice and kooky, knee-jerk movements, Durante was known to hit the ivories and belt out a tune at the drop of a hat. The rest of the cast of this film are good in a decent story about people down on their luck suddenly coming into wealth out of nowhere. The nowhere they think is a miracle in answer to prayers of Momma, Mrs. Amendola. In reality, the trained squirrel, Rupert, has something to do with this, from his squirrel hole in the rafters.
In the holiday spirit, Durante's Louie Amendola, shares their new wealth with down and out neighbors. The story has a nice twist for an ending, and there is a nice subplot romance with the Amendola's daughter in a love triangle. Rupert the Squirrel is an obvious animated insertion in the film. His dancing and other movements appear jerky. Yet, the fill with live action shots of a squirrel between Rupert's gigs, make the trained rodent seem real.
This is a pleasant film that very young audiences may still enjoy for the squirrel's antics. Some of we older youngsters might still get a kick out of Rupert, Jimmy and the rest of this gang too.
Like BEYOND TOMORROW (1940; see my comments to that film), this is another little-known Yuletide flick which has been saved from public domain, colorized and retitled on its Fox DVD; in fact, not only was this originally shot in black-and-white but was named THE GREAT RUPERT after the amiable puppet of a kilt-wearing dancing squirrel who helps to realize the impoverished protagonists' recurring Christmas wish. In fact, Rupert proved to be the first creature animated for a feature-length film by famed sci-fi producer George Pal and is also notable as one of big-nosed multi-talented entertainer Jimmy Durante's best film vehicles.
The story starts with down-and-out animal trainer Jimmy Conlin being evicted from his ramshackle apartment by miserly landlord Frank Orth but Conlin's squirrel soon returns to Conlin's old hide which is already occupied by the equally penniless acrobatic trio, the Amendolas played by Durante, Queenie Smith and Terry Moore. Predictably enough, Orth's ne'r-do-well musician son Tom Drake falls for Moore but is soon driven to distraction by the unwarranted attention the latter is receiving from visiting Broadway agent Don Beddoe looking to re-engage Conlin for his act. Meanwhile, Rupert himself is getting annoyed with Mr. Orth's storing his weekly stash of cash in his wooden house...
Although George Pal's puppet effects are nicely enough done, "Schnozzle" Durante is practically the whole show here and, typically, he has a couple of numbers featuring his eccentric singing-and-piano-playing style. Actor/director Irving Pichel ? who, apparently, also appears in the film as a "puzzled pedestrian" ? hands the light material quite competently which makes this unassuming concoction a gently pleasing alternative to the usual Christmas fare.