The 7th Voyage of Sinbad was a huge box-office success upon its initial theatrical release and so Charles Schneer and Ray Harryhausen wanted to select another story, as famous as the Sinbad tales, to ride on the heels of its success. They wanted a plot-line that would also have a fantasy element and offer possibilities in the story for stop-motion animation. They chose Jonathon Swift's 1726 novel "Gulliver's Travels".....a great idea.
Kerwin Mathews, the star of Sinbad, was cast as Lemuel Gulliver, a doctor who is tired of collecting chickens and vegetables as his fee and decides to set off on an ocean voyage to find his fortune and make a name for himself. His fiancee Elizabeth ( June Thorburn ) is not pleased with this idea but nevertheless sneaks aboard ship to be near him. During a storm at sea, they wash overboard and become separated. Gulliver lands first on the island of Lilliput, inhabited by tiny people, and then on an island of giants where he reunites with Elizabeth.
"I stop wars, put out fires, feed people, give them hope and peace and prosperity - how can I be a traitor?"
Jonathan Swift's novel originally had Gulliver travelling to four different lands, with each land providing an opportunity for Swift to make ironic commentary on human nature. The film version limits Gulliver's encounters to two worlds ( the third world being England ), and retains some of the satire of the novel but in a much more family-oriented manner.
Kerwin Mathews is very entertaining as Dr. Gulliver, and the always lovely British actress June Thorborn is excellent as well. Also in the cast are Jo Morrow, Lee Patterson, Basil Sydney, Martin Benson, and Sherri Alberoni ( as the big little Glumdalclitch ).
Today The 3 Worlds of Gulliver is not counted as one of the most beloved films among Harryhausen's filmography most likely due to its overly juvenile enactment and its lack of creatures. Aside from the squirrel and the giant lizard attack near the end of the film, Gulliver does not encounter any beasts during his multiple maroonings. However, the optical illusions that Harryhausen created for the film are extremely well done.