One of the first gems of the cable TV age, Faerie Tale Theatre brings 26 classic tales to life. Produced over a five-year span (1982-87) for Showtime, FTT brought together creative dramatics and whimsical writing with some... more » of the top talents of the day. Executive producer/host Shelley Duvall (who was coming off her breakout role in The Shining) shepherds this mix of theatrical simplicity and grand storytelling for these oft-told tales ("Goldilocks and the Three Bears," "Little Red Riding Hood," "Hansel and Gretel," "Sleeping Beauty," and the like) for kids and their parents. Since they are not elaborately produced, FTT may be a hard sell for some smaller members of the family at first, but most should be hooked, even older kids who may pooh-pooh fairy tales. There's always a slight twist that makes these productions fresh. The cast is amazing, especially when you think how lightly cable television was thought of in the '80s: Jeff Bridges, Bud Cort, Liza Minnelli, James Coburn, Susan Sarandon, Christopher Reeve, Klaus Kinski, Billy Crystal, Matthew Broderick, Gregory Hines, Eric Idle, Robin Williams, and Mick Jagger are some of the talented--and varied--actors appearing. Crystal's take on the smart "Little Pig" (with Jeff Goldblum as the wolf) and Williams's "Frog Prince" are two comic gems. Malcolm McDowell, right in the middle of his career high-point of playing baddies, brings flair to the Big Bad Wolf, while his then-real-life wife Mary Steenburgen beautifully counterpoints as Red Riding Hood. The casting of Vincent Price and Vanessa Redgrave in "Snow White" is inspired. Also impressive are the directors Duvall pooled: Tim Burton ("Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp"), Francis Ford Coppola ("Rip Van Winkle") Peter Medak (three episodes), Nicholas Meyer ("Pied Piper"), and Roger Vadim ("Beauty and the Beast"). You can go on for days about these wonderful tales, most totaling around the 45-minute mark, but it's better just to get the set and start wherever you'd like; you will get to the end sooner than you think. --Doug Thomas« less
My wife kept telling me about this series for years. She'd grown up watching it and said I had to track it down, which I eventually did, courtesy of the Wishlist Multiples thread in the Dvd Bazaar in the Discussion Forums of Swapadvd. I was a little suspicious beforehand. After all, Shelley Duvall and fairy tales, could anything good come of that?
Well, I was pleasantly surprised. There's a good mix of pedigreed American and British actors in these episodes, which total 26. And Disney they are not. Each well known fairy tale has been overhauled in certain ways which tend to introduce much humor, adult nods, and even horror. In fact a few of these episodes are so intense they may give children nightmares; and we're all for that, aren't we? Well, I am anyways. They don't have to go home with me, do they? :)
There is another related series available entitled "Shelley Duvallís Tall Tales & Legends" which covers some popular American folk heroes. These are just as enjoyable and are worth seeking out if you find you enjoyed the fairy tale productions. I know I did!
Enjoy the magic of FAERIE TALE THEATRE forever!
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 11/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"FAERIE TALE THEATRE is a magical series featuring some of the greatest stars performing in adaptations of the classic fairytales. Created and hosted by Shelley Duvall and originally released on video between 1984 and 1987, the episodes themselves have proven to be quite hard to come by in recent years.
Now thanks to Starmaker II, the series has finally been released on DVD at a bargain price. Your whole family will love this series, though the show itself will be extra-special to those who grew up with it in the 80's (like myself).
Sit back and enjoy! "The Tale of the Frog Prince" (Robin Williams, Teri Garr); "Rumpelstiltskin" (Shelley Duvall, Herve Villechaize); "Rapunzel" (Shelley Duvall, Jeff Bridges, Gena Rowlands); "The Nightingale" (Mick Jagger, Barbara Hershey); "Sleeping Beauty" (Beverly d'Angelo, Bernadette Peters, Christopher Reeve); "Jack and the Beanstalk" (Dennis Christopher, Elliott Gould, Jean Stapleton); "Little Red Riding Hood" (Mary Steenburgen, Malcolm McDowell); "Beauty and the Beast" (Susan Sarandon, Klaus Kinski); "Thumbelina" (Carrie Fisher, William Katt, Burgess Meredith); "The Three Little Pigs" (Billy Crystal, Valerie Perrine, Jeff Goldblum); "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (Elizabeth McGovern, Vanessa Redgrave); "The Princess Who Had Never Laughed" (Ellen Barkin, Howie Mandel); "Rip Van Winkle" (Harry Dean Stanton, Talia Shire), "Pinocchio" (Paul Reubens, Lainie Kazan); "Puss in Boots" (Ben Vereen, Alfre Woodard, Gregory Hines); "The Dancing Princesses" (Lesley Ann Warren, Peter Weller); "The Little Mermaid" (Pam Dawber, Treat Williams, Helen Mirren); "The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers" (Peter McNicol, Dana Hill); "The Princess and the Pea" (Liza Minnelli, Tom Conti); "The Snow Queen" (Melissa Gilbert, Lance Kerwin, Lee Remick); "Hansel and Gretel" (Rick Schroder, Joan Collins); "Cinderella" (Jennifer Beals, Matthew Broderick, Jean Stapleton); "Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp" (Valerie Bertinelli, Robert Carradine, James Earl Jones, Leonard Nimoy); "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" (Eric Idle); "The Emperor's New Clothes" (Art Carney, Alan Arkin, Dick Shawn); "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" (Tatum O'Neal, John Lithgow).
All the titles are also available seperately"
Great Value and Good Entertainment
Ron Atkins | California | 11/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Long before Disney, these stories were both terrifying and entertaining children. Then, during the 1980s, Showtime produced the Faerie Tale Theatre. This is an excellent collection of fairy tales, and features some outstanding talent, including the main narrator, Shelly Duvall. I loved seeing her in this role after not particularly liking how Stanley Kubrik used her in "The Shining." Other pople to look for in this great collection: Billy Crystal, Mick Jagger, Jeff Bridges, Elliot Gould, Elizabeth McGovern, Vanessa Redgrave, Treat Williams, Melissa Gilbert, Tatum O'Neal, John Lithgow, and the list goes on. While these stories are told in the traditional manner, each of them also contains a bit of an O. Henry type twist at the end. Very entertaining and well worth the price when you consider there are 26 discs involved and about 20 hours of footage. I also noticed that these productions are popular on Ebay, but the prices seem to run about $12 per episode.
This collection features productions of:
The Tale of the Frog Prince Rumpelstiltskin Rapunzel The Nightingale Sleeping Beauty Jack and the Beanstalk Little Red Riding Hood Hansel and Gretel Goldilocks and the Three Bears The Princess and the Pea Pinocchio Thumbelina Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Beauty and the Beast The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers The Three Little Pigs The Snow Queen The Pied Piper of Hamelin Cinderella Puss 'n Boots The Emperor's New Clothes Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp The Princess Who Had Never Laughed Rip Van Winkle The Little Mermaid The Dancing Princesses
Great series for everyone (including children!)
Toby Dammit | Chicago | 03/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to respond to the previous reviewer who dismissed the series as inappropriate for children and full of sexual innuendo. Obviously, Faerie Tale Theatre's prime audience today is going to be adults and teens who grew up with the series and have fond memories of their favorite episodes. However, it would be unfair to deny today's children the opportunity to fall in love with it as well. I honestly can't remember a series that sparked my imagination and sense of wonder more than Faerie Tale Theatre. Discerning parents of course should watch each episode before allowing their children to see them. The series had different writers and directors creating each episode, so that the style and content can change significantly from one to the next. Some episodes are very faithful adaptations of the original tales (more comparable to the reverent Storyteller series), while others use the source material as a jumping off point for more satirical or zany flights of fancy (think Fractured Fairy Tales or the Stinky Cheese Man stories). While the series never ventures beyond PG-rated territory, some episodes would be too "adult" to show in a classroom setting for example. I would advise watching "Tale of the Frog Prince" and "Sleeping Beauty" especially before letting your children see them. However, I'd say the majority of the episodes are fine for all ages, and I hope a new generation of kids can enjoy this show just as I did. Thanks to these DVDs, I don't see why not."
What a wonderful surprise!
Sherrie Jackson | St. Louis, MO United States | 08/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had no idea this was out on DVD; it was just a pipe dream that I thought would never come true. Out of all the halcyon memories of my early '80s childhood, these faerie tales stand out the most. Once I was old enough to appreciate what Shelley Duvall had done, I marveled at what an awesome concept it was: take well-known tales, let famous directors helm them, and put celebrities in the starring roles. The good thing is that none of them seem to have more than one or two famous people in them, so that the tales themselves don't lose their sense of timelessness.
If you've never seen one of the faerie tales, I'm sure you will be impressed at how "grown up" they seem, not hokey or melodramatic or overly sentimental but somehow grounded in reality even in scenes where a heroine travels into a dream, or a frog retrieves a golden ball, or a big bad wolf quarrels with his wife. Admittedly, there are a couple of innuendos here and there, but young kids will not get them--I sure didn't.
The best part about many of these episodes is the music. In "The Frog Prince," a young court musician (who is actually the episode's composer) sings a song that may seem throwaway but is actually quite haunting, especially for a kid's tale. And "Thumbelina" has some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard; I was so enamored with it that I arranged it for my orchestration class just so I could hear our philharmonic play it live.
Although my dad taped many of them for me when they originally aired, there are quite a few I had never seen. Though he recently burned them to DVD the quality is still rather poor, so it is one of the delights of the year that I can finally have the real thing for posterity. Believe me, you won't find a lot of entertainment these days as pure and enthralling as the faerie tale theater. If you decide to give them a chance, I promise you won't be disappointed.
Some of my favorites are "The Dancing Princesses" with Lesley Anne Warren; "Snow White" with Vanessa Redgrave; "Sleeping Beauty" with Christopher Reeve; "Cinderella" with Matthew Broderick; and "Thumbelina" with Carrie Fisher."