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Stromboli

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Quiet! Shut up! Before I knock you silly…
―Stromboli, in response to Pinocchio’s desperate plea of freedom!

Stromboli is the second antagonist in Disney's 1940 animated feature film Pinocchio. He is a puppeteer, showman, and gypsy with an ambition to make good money even if it's at the expense of others.

Background

Development

Animation

Hamilton Luske directed live-action footage of most of the characters in the film as a reference for the animators. The performance model for Stromboli was story man T. Hee, who was rather corpulent at the time and who was dressed in full gypsy attire provided by the Character Model Department. Luske later admitted that this reference footage was underacted, but felt that it was necessary to keep Stromboli's animator, Vladimir Tytla, from doing "too many things."

It is thought by some that casting Tytla as the animator of Stromboli was typecasting of a sort - like a puppet master, Tytla was tall, imposing, vibrant in personality and of ethnic origin. While working on Stromboli's animation of the character, Tytla would act out each sequence in his room - this performance could be heard throughout the studio; Eric Larson "thought the walls would fall in".

Personality

When he is first met, Stromboli only appeared to be a man trying to make money through puppets, rather fun but has a bit of a temper. After Pinocchio proves successful he reveals his true colors: brutal, cruel and vicious. When upset, he turns red and begins to angrily curse in Italian and might not be that intelligent, as Foulfellow once said he passed Gideon off as a puppet to make a few bucks. Stromboli is presumably stingy as he only gives Honest John and Gideon a small bag of coins for Pinocchio.

Physical appearance

Stromboli is obese and has black, balding hair. His beard is black as well. He has tan skin and his lower lip is pink, while his upper lip is red.

Appearances

Pinocchio

Stromboli is first referred to in the film by Honest John, who notices a poster advertising that "that old rascal's back in town". Honest John fondly recalls trying to sell Gideon, with strings tied to his arms and feet, to the puppet master (though it's apparent that this ploy didn't work). When the two crooks see Pinocchio on his way to school, the fox realizes that Stromboli would pay handsomely for a moving puppet without strings. They befriend the little wooden boy and, convincing him that the theater is "the easy road to success", take him to Stromboli's Caravan, singing as they go, with Jiminy Cricket in pursuit.

That evening, Stromboli is first seen, announcing his show to a large crowd that has gathered around the caravan. The puppet master advertises Pinocchio as "the only puppet who can sing and dance without the aid of strings". He conducts the band (unseen, below the stage) while Pinocchio and the puppets perform "I've Got No Strings". Pinocchio trips and falls, nose first, onto the stage; Stromboli is initially furious at the puppet's clumsiness and even threatens him in the middle of the show, but lets him continue after realizing that the audience is delighted. Stringed puppets are used as well. After the completion of the show, Stromboli walks onto the stage and accepts both the audience's applause and their money.

Later that night, Stromboli is counting the day's substantial earnings, which made up three hundred gold coins, while enjoying a meal of link sausage and praising Pinocchio on his performance. He realizes that if one town would pay that much gold, then Pinocchio will make him an unimaginable pay once he is exposed to the entire world, and as such decides Pinocchio will stay with him. As he counts, he discovers a metal washer among the money and becomes angry at the idea that it was passed off as a coin, and begins to curse in Italian, but, suddenly stops when he remembers that Pinocchio is listening. He finally gives it to Pinocchio instead for his efforts. The puppet thanks him before trying to return home to Gepetto's Workshop, promising him that he would "be back in the morning", but the idea of Pinocchio ever leaving makes Stromboli burst into laughter. He immediately grabs Pinocchio by the collar.

Pinocchio, unaware of Stromboli's ulterior motives, laughs along with him until the man suddenly throws him in a cage and locks him in, declaring that the cage will now be his home, where he will always be able to find him, and that the puppet now belongs to him. The puppet master enthuses that they will tour the great capitals of the world, and that Pinocchio will make him lots of money. When the puppet is too old to perform, Stromboli will use him for firewood. Pinocchio begs for his freedom, but Stromboli is able to shut him up. Laughing, he leaves Pinocchio alone with the lifeless puppets in the carriage, and the wooden boy hears the caravan start to move. Not knowing what else to do, Pinocchio summons Jiminy, who comes to Pinocchio's aid but is unable to free him. Ultimately, it is the Blue Fairy, giving him a second chance, who opens the cage, allowing the puppet and his conscience to escape. Stromboli is not seen again in the film.

Live-action appearances

Geppetto

Stromboli is the main antagonist of the TV Film, Geppetto and is portrayed by Brent Spiner.

After Geppetto regrets his wish for Pinocchio to be alive, Stromboli makes a deal with the boy and hires him on as his main attraction. He convinces Pinocchio to sign a lifetime contract to grant him guardianship/ownership of the Stringless Puppet for his traveling marionette show. When Geppetto, after learning what it means to be a father, loving your children despite the fact they aren't perfect, The Blue Fairy arrives to take Pinocchio away, telling Geppetto she can not break a contract and gives Pinocchio to Stromboli, despite her reluctance. Geppetto asks her in return to turn him to wood, stone, or clay, as living without Pinocchio is like living without his heart. Touched by his actions, she turns Pinocchio into a real boy, making him useless to Stromboli, who is then chased away by The Blue Fairy's Magic.

Trivia

  • Stromboli's name in the original Italian story by Carlo Collodi was Mangiafuoco which literally means 'Fire-eater', while his animated counterpart is named after Stromboli, the Italian volcano (the food called "stromboli" is named for the same volcano).
  • He is very different from the character in the original story - Mangiafuoco (or Fire-Eater) in the original book is portrayed as being initially gruff, but capable of showing kindness, and who gives Pinocchio money which he is supposed to bring to Geppetto.
  • Charles Judels, the voice of Stromboli, also did the voice of the Coachman.

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