- One of the real neglects in animation history is the availability of The Four Poster in VHS, DVD or any other format. For some reason, this title has eluded marketers who’d want to cash in on the name of Rex Harrison or his wife, Lilli Palmer. Where’s TCM when you need them.
This film was a Stanley Kramer production directed by Irving Reis in 1952 of a play by Jan de Hartog. It tells the life story of a marriage between the husband and his wife. In fact, the film is so insular that it never leaves the bedroom, and it revolves around the “four poster” bed in that room. For the film, they chose to open it up by leaving the bedroom via animated inserts done by John Hubley at UPA. There are some 20 minutes of the film done by Hubley/UPA, and it’s extraordinarily progressive animation for the time.
I own a good 16mm copy of the whole film, and cut the animation segments separate from the feature, I allowed a friend to make a video copy but was very disappointed with the results – out of focus and almost unwatchable. In the past couple of weeks, another friend led me to a second DVD copy which is also out of focus but not as bad as the first.
I’ve wanted to focus on this film for some time, hence I decided not to wait any longer and am sharing frame grabs with you of this muddy, soft focus version. You can still get the idea. If another, better copy turns up in the future, I’ll rework these images and repost it.
Here are bits from the opening credits. Lots of traveling right and then left and then right again.
The film does get very claustrophobic staying in the one bedroom set
for the entire film, with just the two characters, husband & wife, to talk
us through most of the movie. It’s exhausting.
This makes the animation more welcome than it would ordinarily be.
You’re dying for any excuse to change scenery and move the story forward.
Supposedly, the film was sent to Yugoslavia for a run.
Some of the people in Zagreb were able to kidnap the film
and hold onto it for a number of additional weeks. They
studied it closely and copied it.
When they were finished the print was returned to
the States, and they started up Zagreb animation with their
new-found knowledge and inspiration. A bit more than inspired,
shall we say. How very 21st Century of them
In his book, When Magoo Flew, Adam Abraham doesn’t give a lot of
space to the work on this feature. However, every small comment
seems valuable since so little has been written about this film.
The first animated intersection shows the Rex Harrison character going off to work as a teacher in a boys’ school.
Back to live action