How Chryslers are made: chipper stop-motion film from 1939 World's Fair

Ben sez, "A film from the 1939 World's Fair showing a Chrysler being built in Stop Action animation. Originally filmed in 'Three-Dimensional Polaroid Film.'"

Man, this thing has got it all: golden age World's Fair, that fantastic chipper music, dancing brightly colored machine-parts... I want to crawl in and nestle among the sparkplugs.

Exclusive: Chrysler Builds a Car (Thanks, Ben!)


  1. Every chassis gets a body,
    sedan or coupe.
    So we’ll build an all steel body,
    in a color gay.

  2. Every chassis gets a body,
    sedan or coupe.
    So we’ll build an all steel body,
    in a color gay.

  3. Wow. How great would it be to see this in the original 3D? Do any prints exist? Where did this video version come from? Is this one of the very earliest Polaroid process 3D films? Questions, questions.

    I got at least some answers at Wikipedia’s 3D film page. Edwin Land first demoed Polaroid 3D with still pictures in 1936. After that, the citations get vaguer… there may have been 3D movies produced in Italy and/or Germany, but they may have only been released “flat.”

    The Chrysler film debuted at the 1939 World’s Fair… which opened in the spring. It must have started production in 1938 (I wonder how long it took to shoot). So it would have been at least one of the very first Polaroid technique 3D movies ever shown to large audiences, possibly the first.

    The creator of this opus (I had to go back to the opening credits to find out) is Jack Norling. His imdb listing is short: two animated silent shorts in the early 20s, a 12-year gap, then the Oscar-nominated 3D (anaglyph process) “Audioscopiks,” a Pete Smith short, in 1935, followed by “The New Audioscopiks” in 1938. The Chrysler film is his next credit.

    It turns out that the version posted here is not from 1939. The film that debuted that year was identical in content, and also done in the Polaroid process, but in black & white, and differently titled: “In Tune With Tomorrow.” This one, “New Dimensions,” is the remake, for the second year of the Fair. It’s also the final imdb credit for John (J.A.) “Jack” Norling, evidently an unsung mad genius of stop-motion animation.

    So, when do we get 3D movies on the web? And is that before or after the jetpacks?

  4. Yes, this was the first major success for Edwin Land’s attempt to commercialize the polarizing filter for 3D film presentation. It was also one of the last. It never caught on though. I’m sure the original stereo prints exist somewhere. The quality should be on-par with any modern, linear-polarizing, 3D film production.

    Land was obsessed with a way to invent polarizing filters and then once he accomplished it, it was a technology searching for a product. He made a little money from sunglasses and camera filters but it wasn’t enough to pay the bills. The auto industry blew off his attempts to build them into windshields and headlights (to reduce glare and make back country roads safer at night).

    Today, you probably have 10 or 20 polarizing filters in your home…as they are integral to LCD displays. Too bad Land is dead and Polaroid Corp is too.

    Instant film was invented out of the need to find other products that would keep the company humming.

    Anyway, more 3D films weren’t really made until the 50’s when competition from television spurned innovation (wide aspect, 3d, stereo sound, etc).

  5. By 21st century standards this is impressive, but to do it with the equipment around in 1939? It’s incredible :D

  6. Absolutely wonderful. The thought kept coming to mind, what a simple machine cars were once upon a time. Yes, they were inefficient polluting deathtraps, but they were beautifully simple and reliable. For example, as a teenager I rebuilt a ’63 Ford Falcon transmission with no experience and few tools.

  7. Woid, thanks for the info; that was great. I think it’s neat that Norling used a lot of the same 3d gimmicks in this 2d film, like all the items that lunge at the camera.

    Does anyone know if this was a full size car? I don’t understand how they would have made the springs dance and the exhaust crawl like an inchworm other than by using rubber lookalikes.

    Foetusnail, old cars sure are simple! I love the interior especially; basically some cloth covered wood sheets, carpet, and a couple of benches. Contrast that to the thousands of finished pieces that go in a modern car! I don’t know about “reliable,” though. Especially back in 1939, operating a car entailed a lot of tinkering and repair over what would be considered extremely short distances nowadays. Running one 250,000 miles without replacing the engine a few times would probably be considered laughable.

  8. @anonymous #5… polarized filter 3D never caught on?

    The whole 3D boom of the 50’s was built on polarized 3D presentation, not anaglyph. With RARE exceptions all theatrical 3D movies since then have been made for polarized filter presentation.

  9. Awesome video, even if they did get a bit happy with the whole “whoops, here it comes to hit you in the face” schtick. But even that was kind of cute, in its own way. You could tell 3-D was really novel, at the time.

    And oh man, what beautiful cars. God, how I wish I could afford to restore an old car like that and make a daily driver of it. Cars from those days just had so much more personality and style to them.

  10. while Detroit is re-working itself into whatever will survive, why don’t they add to the electric car the return of the simply built, home repairable gas-buggy? Fully un-loaded, manual transmission, body metal thick enough to qualify as the home tractor it would be. Slow, gas-sipping, cheap and ugly.

  11. Excellent restored 3D prints of this film do still exist. I’ve seen it twice in beautiful color 3D in the last few years. One screening was at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood for their 3D Film Expo back in 2006. The listing for that screening is here:

    Another recent screening was sponsored by the Motion Picture Academy just last year.

    Also, copies of it are even available on DVD in interlaced 3D format. You can occasionally find them on Ebay.

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