Thursday, January 3, 2013


I know this is like the third children's movie I am reviewing, but when you have young children in your home, there are only so many movies you have the time to watch. Hopefully the next movie I get to review is at least live action. However, some of the children's movies I have seen are really good - the movie A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969) is one of those great family movies. It was made in 1969 so I guess you can consider it a classic movie!

Directed by Bill Meléndez, it is the first feature film based on the Peanuts comic strip. It was also the final time that Peter Robbins voiced the character of Charlie Brown (Robbins had voiced the role for all the Peanuts television specials up to that point, starting with the debut of the specials, 1965's A Charlie Brown Christmas.)

The film was partly based on a series of Peanuts comic strips originally published in newspapers in 1966. That story had a much different ending: Charlie Brown was eliminated in his class spelling bee right away for misspelling the word maze ("M-A-Y-S" while thinking of baseball legend Willie Mays), thus confirming Violet's prediction that he would make a fool of himself. Charlie Brown then screams at his teacher in frustration, causing him to be sent to the principal's office (A few gags from that storyline, however, were also used in You're in Love, Charlie Brown).

A Boy Named Charlie Brown also included several original songs, some of which boasted vocals for the first time: "Failure Face", "I Before E Except After C" and "Champion Charlie Brown" (Before this film, musical pieces in Peanuts specials were primarily instrumental, except for a few traditional songs in A Charlie Brown Christmas.) Rod McKuen wrote and sang the title song. He also wrote "Failure Face" and "Champion Charlie Brown".

The instrumental tracks interspersed throughout the movie were composed by Vince Guaraldi and arranged by John Scott Trotter (who also wrote "I Before E Except After C"). The music consisted mostly of uptempo jazz tunes that had been heard since some of the earliest Peanuts television specials aired back in 1965; however, for A Boy Named Charlie Brown, they were given a more "theatrical" treatment, with lusher horn-filled arrangements. Instrumental tracks used in the film included "Skating" (first heard in A Charlie Brown Christmas) and "Baseball Theme" (first heard in Charlie Brown's All-Stars). Guaraldi and Trotter were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score for their work on A Boy Named Charlie Brown.

Even though this movie is a cartoon, it really did deal with adult themes. We all have a little bit of Charlie Brown in all of us. We all want to be accepted and loved. The movie, in my opinion, has some really sad moments, and the title song by Rod McKuen always gives me a lump in my throat. Yes, this movie is basically a kid's cartoon, but I will put it up against any adult movie anyday...

MY RATING: 10 out of 10


  1. I originally saw this wonderful movie when I was seven years old. My mother took my younger brother and me to see it. I have seen it a couple more times over the years, and it holds up well. I totally agree with your assessment of this movie.

  2. David,
    Don't apologize for reviewing Charlie Brown! He's a winner regardless of your age but it's very sweet that you are thinking of your children when writing reviews.

    Happy New Year to you and your precious family. Looking forward to what you've got in store for us here and over at Bing's place.