(Alternate commentary-free version: This link will allow you to watch the original cartoon without audio commentary)
You’re A Madman, Charlie Brown!
This week from the Cartoon Brew TV’s “Brew Vaults”, we offer several rare animated spots featuring Charles Schulz’s beloved Peanuts characters. We’re dedicating this episode to Peanuts animation director Bill Melendez, who passed away last month. First, the rarely seen theatrical trailer for the initial feature-length Peanuts movie, A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969). This trailer was the first 16mm film I ever bought (at a New York Comic Con in the 1970s) and it led to a lifetime of collecting cartoons on film, so it holds great nostalgia for me. I actually saw A Boy Named Charlie Brown at Radio City Music Hall (it was the big Christmas attraction that year). I still recall how odd it was to see such simplistic animation on the huge Music Hall screen–a screen which usually played host to Disney’s latest fully-animated masterpieces. In retrospect, the film is one of the best pieces of Peanuts animation, comparable to the earliest Peanuts holiday specials. Schulz, as usual, wrote the screenplay and retained a smattering of the adult-skewing wit that had all but disappeared from the Peanuts TV shows produced at this time. Poet-Composer Rod McKuen wrote the four songs in the film, and they are pretty good. The movie was a huge hit, becoming the number one film the week it was released, and ultimately spawned three sequels.