Rumpelstiltskin (1987)


USA. 1987.


Director/Screenplay – David Irving, Producers – Yoram Globus & Menahem Golan, Photography – David Garfinkel, Music – Max Robert, Special Effects – Carlo De Marchis, Makeup – Marie-Helene Yatchenkoff, Production Design – Marek Dobrowolski. Production Company – Golan-Globus


Amy Irving (Katie), Billy Barty (Rumpelstiltskin), Clive Revill (King Mezzer), John Moulder Brown (Prince Henry), Priscilla Pointer (Queen Griselda), Robert Symonds (Victor), Yael Uziely (Emily)


In order not to seem idle, the miller Victor makes the boast that his daughter Katie is so good that she can spin straw into gold. The story quickly spreads, eventually coming to the attention of the king. The king has Katie brought before him and demands that she spin gold to make up for her father’s unpaid taxes. Because the king claims not to like liars, Katie is too afraid to say that she cannot spin gold. Locked up in the dungeon with a spinning wheel and a bale of straw, Katie despairs. A dwarf magician then appears and offers to turn the straw into gold in payment for Katie’s necklace. However, the greedy king is not satisfied with this and demands that Katie spin more and more. She is forced to keep relying on the dwarf until finds she has nothing left to pay him but to promise to give him her firstborn son. Afterwards, Katie and the king’s son Prince Henry become close and then marry. However, as Katie is about to give birth to their first child, the dwarf comes to claim on their agreement. She begs him to leave her alone and so the dwarf offers her a bargain – he will free her from the deal if she can guess his name within three days.

Rumpelstiltskin was one of the series of adaptations of popular fairytales that were made by Israeli producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus under the umbrella name of Cannon Movie-Tales during the 1980s. In fact, Rumpelstiltskin was the first of the Cannon Movie-Tales to be released. Others in this series include Beauty and the Beast (1987), The Emperor’s New Clothes (1987), The Frog Prince (1987), Hansel and Gretel (1987), Puss in Boots (1987), Red Riding Hood (1987), Snow White (1987) and Sleeping Beauty (1988). Most of these were cheaply produced and banal.

Rumpelstiltskin is the same cheap and drab affair as the rest of the Cannon Movie-Tales. To be fair, it is not bad in places. Director David Irving does a reasonable job and at least manages to disguise the poverty row sets with some passably atmospheric lighting. Unlike some of the other Cannon Movie-Tales, the film is reasonably faithful to the original Brothers Grimm fairytale, even including the ending where Rumpelstiltskin stomps on the ground and is swallowed up. As the princess, Amy Irving has a pretty and plaintive presence, offering moments of enlivening sweetness. Despite being thirty-four at the time, Irving fills the role with a sweet innocence (she even gets to sing several of the insipid songs). Unfortunately, Billy Barty and Clive Revill regard the film as an opportunity to ham it up and whenever they are on screen the ugly spectre of overacting that dogged most of these Cannon productions rears its head.

David Irving – no relation to and not to be confused with the infamous Holocaust Denying historian – is star Amy Irving’s brother. Indeed, Rumpelstiltskin is a family affair, with David and Amy’s mother Priscilla Pointer also appearing as the Queen as well as Pointer’s husband Robert Symonds as Amy’s father the miller. David Irving directed two of the other Cannon Movie-Tales with The Emperor’s New Clothes and Sleeping Beauty, and has made other films like C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud (1989) and Night of the Cyclone (1990).

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