Eugene Curran "Gene" Kelly (August 23, 1912 – February 2, 1996) was an American dancer, actor, singer, film director and producer, and choreographer. Kelly was known for his energetic and athletic dancing style, his good looks and the likeable characters that he played on screen. Although he is known today for his performances in Singin' in the Rain and An American in Paris, he was a dominant force in Hollywood musical films from the mid 1940s until this art form fell out of fashion in the late 1950s. His many innovations transformed the Hollywood musical film, and he is credited with almost single-handedly making the ballet form commercially acceptable to film audiences. Kelly was the recipient of an Academy Honorary Award in 1952 for his career achievements. He later received lifetime achievement awards in the Kennedy Center Honors, and from the Screen Actors Guild and American Film Institute; in 1999, the American Film Institute also numbered him 15th in their Greatest Male Stars of All Time list.
Abra Cadabra is an Australian animated film, originally released in 1983. Its director and writer, Alexander Stitt, had gained some notoriety two years earlier with his debut feature, Grendel Grendel Grendel, which was an adaptation of John Gardner's famous postmodern novel telling Beowulf from the monster's point of view. After the modest success of that film, Stitt went on to write and direct this film, which uses a very similar visual style.
According to Patrick Robertson's "The Guinness Book of Film Facts and Feats", Abra Cadabra was the first animated feature to be released in a 3D viewing format, pre-dating Starchaser: The Legend of Orin (which is usually cited at the first 3D animated feature) by about two years. However, to the best of my knowledge, Abra Cadabra was a financial failure, and Alexander Stitt has not written or directed any films since. Also, it appears that this film has never gotten an official home video release, in any country, in any format. Interestingly, it was played on Nickelodeon a few times during the 1980s, which is the only exposure the film has gotten in North America.
It is from one of those Nickelodeon broadcasts that this copy of the film originates.
The King (Jean Marais) promises his dying Queen that after her death he will only marry a woman as beautiful and virtuous as she. Pressed by his advisers to remarry and produce an heir, he comes to the conclusion that the only way to fulfil his promise is to marry his own daughter, the Princess (Catherine Deneuve). Following the advice of her godmother, the Lilac Fairy (Delphine Seyrig), the Princess demands a series of seemingly impossible nuptial gifts, in the hope that her father will be forced to give up his plans of marriage. However, the King succeeds in providing her with dresses the colour of the weather, of the moon and of the sun, and finally with the skin of a magic donkey that excretes jewels, the source of his kingdom's wealth. Donning the donkey skin, the Princess flees her father's kingdom to avoid the incestuous marriage.
In the guise of "Donkey Skin", the Princess finds employment as the pig-keeper in a neighbouring kingdom. The Prince of this kingdom (Jacques Perrin) spies her in her hut in the woods and falls in love with her. Love-struck, he retires to his sickbed, and asks that Donkey Skin be instructed to bake him a cake to restore him to health. In the cake he finds a ring that the Princess has placed there, and is thus sure that his love for her is reciprocated. He declares that he will marry the woman whom the ring fits.
All the women of marriageable age assemble at the Prince's castle and try the ring on one by one, in order of social status. Last of all is the lowly "Donkey Skin", who is revealed to be the Princess when the ring fits her finger. At the wedding of the Prince and the Princess, the Lilac Fairy and the King arrive by helicopter and declare that they too are to be married.
Jacques Demy, fascinated by Charles Perrault's fairy tale since childhood, was working on a script for the film as early as 1962. The involvement of Catherine Deneuve was instrumental in securing financing for the production.:40 Numerous elements in the film refer to Jean Cocteau's 1946 fairy tale film Beauty and the Beast: the casting of Jean Marais, the use of live actors to portray human statues in the castles, and the use of simple special effects such as slow motion and reverse motion.