Making the Grades
In the hey days of Peanuts, Charles Schultz brought his philosophical half-pint characters to life in a series of half-hour television specials beginning with A Charlie Brown Christmas, in 1965. The following year, the debut of It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, launched many of the institutions synonymous with Peanuts today.
Besides watching Linus sitting in the pumpkin patch waiting patiently for the Great Pumpkin to appear, (and talking Charlie Brown's distraught little sister Sally into joining him), the animation also introduces Snoopy's classic World War I flying ace scenario. As the heroic fighter pilot lurks through the underbrush of France (actually the neighborhood's backyards) struggling to find his way behind enemy lines--he ends up in the pumpkin patch. Linus, figuring The Great Pumpkin has finally arrived, meets only Sally's tirade when she discovers they have sacrificed Halloween to see a beagle.
Other memorable moments include: the gullible Charlie Brown trying to kick the football Lucy promises not to move, the piano prodigy Schroder playing a series of war time songs while Snoopy waxes emotional, and of course, the gang comparing their Halloween take while poor Charlie Brown finds only a rock in his loot bag.
Unlike the non-stop-noise commercial cartoons produced today, the Peanuts animations crafted by director Bill Melendez, contain sparse dialogue amidst Vince Guaraldi's expressive jazz piano score, clever sound effects, and (gasp!) moments of total silence. Amazingly, even children raised on hyperactive entertainment are still amused.
It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown is packaged with You're Elected Charlie Brown, a 1972 half-hour short where the gang puts Linus on the election platform and Snoopy becomes Joe Cool. Available on VHS and DVD, (the only extras on the DVD version are subtitles, a scene index, and superior image quality) it's now possible to sit in the pumpkin patch with Linus any time of the year.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.
The Peanuts comic strip success is attributed to the universal nature of character traits depicted by the Snoopy gang. Can you relate to some of these personalities? Which character do you feel is the most like you?
Why do you think Charlie Brown always falls for Lucy’s football trick?
For a closer look at Charles M. Schultz, his final comic strips, and loads of other material, check: http://www.snoopy.com/
And for a look at some “fine” art, check Metlife’s gallery at: http://www.metlife.com/Gallery/index.html