Long before Peter Jackson’s rise to hobbit-filled glory was this week’s Movies You Have Not Have Seen But You Should!
Once again, welcome back to Movies You Have Not Have Seen But You Should. We have reached the 25th installment of this series. For those who are regulars, thanks so much for sticking with us. For those who are new, hope you enjoy all the different films we will cover & I’d recommend going back and checking out previous articles. This week, in honor of the upcoming release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, we will look at 1977 animated feature The Hobbit.
The Hobbit is based on the book by the same name written by author and Oxford professor J.R.R. Tolkien. It tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, who is caught up in an adventure the likes of which he could never imagine. He is called by the wizard Gandalf to travel with 13 dwarfs to help them in their cause of stealing from the dragon Smaug & reclaiming the dwarfs’ home, the Lonely Mountain. Along the way, the company runs into trolls, goblins, elves along with a being called Gollum. There are battles, hardships and victory. Bilbo, someone who was not looking for an adventure, goes on the adventure of a lifetime.
Many of you already know the story of The Hobbit, the prequel to The Lord of the Rings. This animated version was put out by Rankin/Bass productions. We have previously looked at another of their films The Last Unicorn earlier in this series. The voice actors in the film included Orson Bean (best known for his work on the TV show Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and as a panelist on the classic game show To Tell The Truth) as Bilbo Baggins, Richard Boone (best known for his role on the TV show Have Gun-Will Travel) as Smaug, Hans Conried (best known as the voice of Captain Hook in Disney’s Peter Pan & Snidely Whiplash on The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show) as Thorin Oakenshield and John Huston (Academy Award winning writer & director for such films as The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The African Queen) as Gandalf.
The film was animated by the animated studio Topcraft. Interesting enough, that company would eventually become what is now known as Studio Ghibli, a company who has had several films featured in this series. This film is for the most part true to the book. There are some differences as to be expected with any adaptation from the page to the screen. One major example would be Gandalf’s knowledge of the ring that Bilbo possesses, which is not known in the book by Gandalf until The Fellowship of the Ring. The Hobbit was first released as a television special on NBC. It was first broadcast on November 27, 1977. The film ended up winning the Peabody Award in 1978. It also was nominated that year for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, losing to Star Wars. It has a 67% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is higher than The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (which has a 65% rating).
The Hobbit is available on DVD. It has been out of print for a few years but should be able to still find a copy on Amazon. This animated film is worth picking up and watching. It’d be a great watch before you go see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. It’s an animated classic that you may not have seen, but you should.