Gulliver's Travels is a 1939 American cel-animated Technicolor feature film, directed by Dave Fleischer and produced by Max Fleischer for Fleischer Studios. The film was released on Friday, December 22, 1939 by Paramount Pictures, who had the feature produced as an answer to the success of Walt Disney's box-office hit Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The sequences for the film were directed by Seymour Kneitel, Willard Bowsky, Tom Palmer, Grim Natwick, William Henning, Roland Crandall, Thomas Johnson, Robert Leffingwell, Frank Kelling, Winfield Hoskins, and Orestes Calpini.
Gulliver was the second cel-animated feature film ever released, and the first produced by an American studio other than Walt Disney Productions. The story is based upon the Lilliputian adventures of Gulliver depicted in Jonathan Swift's 18th century novel Gulliver's Travels.
The film opens with Gulliver (voiced by Sam Parker) washing up on a mysterious island after his ship sinks on a stormy night. It is revealed that the island, Lilliput, is inhabited by very small people. While scouting the forest, the town crier, Gabby (voiced by Pinto Colvig), comes across Gulliver's unconscious body and takes him as a giant, so he rushes off to warn the ruler of Lilliput, King Little (voiced by Jack Mercer). At this time, Little and his friend, King Bombo (voiced by Tedd Pierce) of the neighboring and equally minuscule island of Blefuscu, are planning a wedding between their children: Princess Glory of Lilliput and Prince David of Blefuscu. Things turn sour between the kings, however, when they argue over which song to play at the wedding (Little wants to play the song Faithful while Bombo wants Forever), and Bombo soon declares war.
Gabby manages to tell King Little about the "giant" (i.e. Gulliver) on the beach and is sent to capture him. Gabby leads a mob to the beach but is surprised to find Gulliver is not there; the mob begins to scorn Gabby until they all realize that they are standing on Gulliver's belly. The Lilliputians tie Gulliver down to a wooden platform and wheel him into the village—a task that takes them until daybreak. Soon Gulliver awakens and frightens everyone away, but when they see that the invading Blefuscuians are also intimidated by his size, the Lilliputians decide to enlist his help to fight against their rival neighbor, treating him with hospitality and making him a new set of clothes.
King Bombo, who has sent three spies, Sneak, Snoop, and Snitch, into Lilliput, realizes the threat that Gulliver will pose to him, so he leaves them to find a way to kill Gulliver. The spies steal Gulliver's flintlock pistol, confiscated by the Lilliputians and dubbed "Gulliver's Thunder Machine", and prepare to use it against him. Meanwhile, Gulliver learns from Glory and David, who are still deeply in love with each other, that their people are fighting because of their disagreement over two songs, so he proposes they create a new song that combines the two.
The spies assure King Bombo that they will kill Gulliver, so Bombo sends a message that says he will attack at dawn. Gabby intercepts this message before it reaches the spies and rushes to warn the Lilliputians. As he tries to find Gulliver, however, he is captured by the spies by putting him in a bag, and they prepare the pistol. As the Blefuscuian fleet of ships makes its way to Lilliput, Gulliver manages to reel all the ships in and pull them to shore. Gabby is still in the bag but runs from the house to try to warn Gulliver but is unable to see. At this time, the spies prepare to fire at Gulliver from atop a cliff, but Prince David grabs onto the gun's barrel just in time, only to fall off the cliff to his apparent death.
Using David's body to illustrate a point, Gulliver rebukes both Lilliput and Blefuscu for fighting over the songs they wish to sing. However, it is revealed that David is alive and well, and he and Glory sing their combined song to the two peoples. The three spies decided to release Gabby by cutting open the bag; when he got out the bag he starts to attack them, not knowing the war is now over. King Little and King Bombo reconcile and work together to build a new ship for Gulliver, which he uses to depart from the now unified islands.