‘Rumpelstiltskin’ (1955)

One depressing kiddie flick

When children’s films are also foreign films, it can get weird.

Movies like the Mexican “Santa Claus” (1959) and “Little Red Riding Hood and the Monsters” (1962) actually played in American movie theaters. American children, spoiled rotten by the irreproachable quality of Disney films, actually watched these mind-melting imports. Our moms dropped us off, and then went shopping for a couple of hours, believing we were in good hands, watching wholesome, heartwarming kiddie fare.

They were mistaken.

I remember one such instance very clearly. The movie was “Rumpelstiltskin,” a West German film from 1955 released in America in 1965 by K. Gordon Murray, the prolific importer (and English-language dubber) of bizarro kiddie, horror and wrestling movies. My mom dumped my sister, my brother and myself at the Moorestown Mall cinema. After all, the advertising promised an “enchanting wonderland of make believe.”

Werner Krüger is Rumpelstiltskin.

From the first frame, we knew we were at a funeral. This movie was depressing. The little person who played Rumpelstiltskin (Werner Krüger) looked ancient, forlorn … and, not for nothing, vaguely drunk. However old he was in real years, he was 70 in dog years.

I don’t think my siblings and I laughed once, nor discussed the film after it was over. In my memory, the audience (comprised of 90-percent children) filed out of the theater wordlessly.

I’m dying to see it again, of course.

Liane Croon is Müllerstochter Marie.

The filmclip from “Rumpelstiltskin” below does not betray my childhood memories of the film.

The clip was posted in November, and it’s the first time I’ve seen any footage from the film since I was a child.

I think the following comment from the YouTube post sums up the general cheerlessness of the “Rumpelstiltskin” experience: “This was the first movie I saw in a theater. My dad took me to see it about 1967 or thereabouts at the long-gone Plaza Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida on a rainy weekend morning.”

An "enchanting world of make believe." Yeah, right.