|The Great Rupert|
|Directed by||Irving Pichel|
|Written by||Ted Allen (story)|
|Produced by||George Pal|
|Edited by||Duke Goldstone|
|Music by||Leith Stevens|
George Pal Productions Legend Films
|Distributed by||Eagle-Lion Films, Twentieth Century Fox|
The Great Rupert is a 1950 comedy family film starring Jimmy Durante, Tom Drake and Terry Moore, produced by George Pal and directed by Irving Pichel. It is based on a story written by Ted Allan that has also been published as a children's book under the title Willie the Squowse.
The story revolves around a little animated squirrel who, with much charm, accidentally helps two economically distressed families overcome their obstacles.
Rosalinda Amendola, the daughter of happy but impoverished former acrobats, is in love with the boy next door, aspiring composer Pete Dingle. Though Pete's parents are wealthy, his miserly father Frank hides his money in the wall.
Joe Mahoney, a vaudeville performer who has fallen on hard times, has to leave his best friend and stage companion Rupert, a dancing squirrel, in the town. Rupert will have to fend for himself with the other squirrels and live in a tree. Unsatisfied with tree life, Rupert gains access to the Dingle home and makes his bed in Frank's hidden cache of money. He clears room by throwing the money through a hole, causing it to float down into the Amendola house and appear as if sent from heaven in answer to Mrs. Rosalinda's prayers.
Taxmen and cops converge on the Amendola house to discover the source of the family's wealth.
In 1949, the film's producer George Pal, who had formerly produced animated shorts, convinced the independent Eagle-Lion Films to co-finance a two-picture deal with him. These films would be The Great Rupert and Destination Moon.
The film was originally known as Money, Money, Money and was based on a story by Ted Allen purchased by Pal in June 1948. It was adapted by Laszlo Vadnay. Filming started at General Service Studio on June 20, 1949.
At one stage the film was called The Great Amandola; at another, it was Rupert II.
Pal's stop-motion animation used in creating the illusion of the dancing squirrel was so realistic that he received many inquiries about where he had located a trained squirrel.
In 1999, Arnold Leibovit Entertainment rereleased the film on DVD.
In 2003, 20th Century Fox and Legend Films revived the public domain film with a colorized special edition under the title A Christmas Wish. For that release, Terry Moore provided an audio commentary track.