Producer/animator/special-effect maven George Pal made his feature-film directorial bow with the colorful MGM musical fantasy Tom Thumb (the title of the film was spelled in lower case in the opening credits, and in all studio publicity material). Russ Tamblyn stars as the teeny-tiny titular protagonist, while veteran musicomedy favorite Jessie Mathews and stellar character actor Bernard Miles portray Tom's normal-sized parents. Journeying to the Village, Tom is pounced upon by villains Ivan (Terry-Thomas) and Tony (a corpulent Peter Sellers), who intend to exploit our 5 1/2-inch-tall hero. In-between his misadventures with the villains, Tom helps to expedite the romance between young forester Woody (Alan Young) and the magical Forest Queen (June Thorburn). Throughout, the special effects and oversized sets are first-rate, as are the "puppetoons" sequences featuring such delightful characters as The Yawning Man (voice by Stan Freberg). Written by several hands, the film's songs are hummable, if not particularly memorable. It is said that some children in the audience in 1958 were genuinely frightened by the more horrific aspects of the story (including the threatened execution of Tom's parents); it may be, however, that the adults were more scared than the kids. Incidentally, while most of Tom Thumb was filmed in MGM's London facilities, the special effects were produced in Hollywood, requiring Russ Tamblyn to do a lot of travelling.
by Hal Erickson synopsis