Kathy Steinberg

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966, Bill Melendez)

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is near perfect. Director Melendez and writer Charles M. Schulz create this beautiful little experience. The special’s excellence is in its structure. “Pumpkin” has the main plot–Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin, which actually starts as Linus writing the Great Pumpkin–and then the two subplots. First, the other Peanuts gang having Halloween and, second, Snoopy’s adventures as a World War I ace.

The three threads mix a lot–Snoopy shows up memorably in Linus’s story and Lucy is always giving Linus crap when she passes through his pumpkin patch–and the special creates its own cohesive universe. There’s no concern for anything outside it; Melendez and Schulz conceive it beautifully.

They even have time for capsule scenes, like Snoopy’s reactions to Schroeder’s piano playing.

And the end is absolutely perfect. It’s never schmaltzy and it’s always sincere without being saccharine. It’s magnificent.

3/3Highly Recommended

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Bill Melendez; written by Charles M. Schulz; animated by Bob Bachman; edited by Robert T. Gillis; music by Vince Guaraldi; released by the Columbia Broadcasting System.

Starring Peter Robbins (Charlie Brown), Christopher Shea (Linus Van Pelt), Sally Dryer (Lucy Van Pelt), Kathy Steinberg (Sally Brown), Ann Altieri (Frieda / Violet), Gail DeFaria (Pigpen), Lisa DeFaria (Patty) and Glenn Mendelson (Schroeder / Shermy).


You’re in Love, Charlie Brown (1967, Bill Melendez)

As hard as director Melendez tries, there’s not much he can do with “You’re in Love, Charlie Brown.” The special’s two salient problems are the animation and the writing. Melendez comes up with some truly stunning shots in the special; for example, he closes with a beautiful zoom out with a lot of activity. But the actual animation–the movement, the illustration of the characters and settings–is bad.

But he could probably overcome that one, especially since the music from Vince Guaraldi is particularly excellent.

Charles M. Schulz’s writing, however, is insurmountable. Over the first half is spent on Charlie Brown whining about no one liking him and how much he likes the Little Red-Haired Girl. It makes Peter Robbins’s Charlie Brown unlikable.

The final ten minutes pick up a little, thanks to Melendez’s ambitions. The special doesn’t succeed, but Melendez is able to keep it from failing.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Bill Melendez; written by Charles M. Schulz; music by Vince Guaraldi; released by the Columbia Broadcasting System.

Starring Peter Robbins (Charlie Brown), Christopher Shea (Linus Van Pelt), Sally Dryer (Lucy van Pelt), Kathy Steinberg (Sally Brown), Gail DeFaria (Patricia ‘Peppermint Patty’ Reichardt) and Ann Altieri (Violet).


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