Gentlemen of Titipu (1972)

Reported by J. Donald Smith

Ron Haddrick
Ross Higgens
Katina Comino
Bunney Brooke
Alistair Duncan
Owen Waingott
Olivia Hammett
Michael Long
Mary Jane Boyd
Brian Davies
Neil Williams
Norman Erskine
Ian Wilson

Anna Russell as Katisha

Words adapted by John Palmer
Music Adapted by John Sangster
Director: Leif Gram
Producer: Walter Hucker

Paragon Video VHS Cover
Paragon Video VHS Cover
Koch Vision DVD Cover
Koch Vision

This abbreviated (50 min.) and rewritten cartoon version of The Mikado perhaps had an interesting and workable concept. Here, the Mikado, with his entourage which includes Pooh-Bah, Pish-Tush, Katisha and Nanki-Poo, is coming to Titipu for the Cherry Blossom Festival. Ko-Ko, the acting Mayor and Cheap Tailor of Titipu, manages to wink (flirt) with Katisha during his welcome and is condemned to death for flirting. Nanki-Poo learns of the Mikado's plan to marry him to Katisha and escapes. The rest is more or less according to Gilbert — at least as far as story is concerned.

What defeats this version is an excess of "cute." All of the dialogue and most of the lyrics (those that survive) are rewritten in the hip style of the early 70s. Although most of the songs survive, even though cut to one verse, all are rewritten except for "Miya Sama" and "Tit-Willow," which does keep all its verses. The music is jazzed up and is the most unfortunate part of the rendition. Instead of picking one style and sticking with it, which might have worked, every song is a parody of some different jazz or pop style: "A Wandering Minstrel" is sung as if by Johhny Mathis, "Three Little Maids from School" as if by Diana Ross and the Supremes, "Tit-Willow" as if by Rex Harrison in "My Fair Lady," etc. The cartooning is fairly primitive also.

Tring International Video Cover
Tring International TVA086

Nonetheless, "The Gentlemen of Titipu" has one redeeming feature. Although the performers are listed without being credited to a role, the inimitable and unmistakable voice of Anna Russell (yes — that Anna Russell) does Katisha. Her dialogue is wonderful — just as you would imagine that Anna Russell would have sounded had she ever performed the role on stage. Unfortunately the singing part of the role is limited to her section of one verse of "From Every Kind of Man," but what a rendition! It makes the video worth watching, despite its many faults.

The film was by Swank Telefilms (supported by Australian Film Development Corporation). It was distributed by Wonderland Video, and sold by Paragon Video Productions (1982). The video seems to have been imported by a religious program and paired with another cartoon called "The First Christmas." As such, it is labelled as "religious" and presumably never made it into the main-stream market. The video seems to have been available in both PAL and NTSC, but there are no obvious catalog numbers.

Issue History
1972N/ATV broadcastN/A 
1982Paragon VideoVHS PAL/NTSC[Need number]Coupled with "The First Christmas"
1997Tring InternationalVHS PALTVA086Part of Cartoon Classics collection
2006Koch VisionDVD NTSC[Need number]