Directors: Bill Meléndez
Release date: December 4, 1969
Stars: Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and Linus van Pelt, Schroeder, e.o.
Made after six television specials, ‘A Boy Named Charlie Brown’ is Meléndez’ first feature film about the Peanuts gang.
It is a film with a slow, but steady pace: unhurried, yet not too slow. Being totally relaxed, the film takes a long time to introduce the characters, citing a lot of Peanut comic strip gags, and showing Charlie Brown’s troubles in flying kites and playing baseball. Only after 30 minutes the head story kicks in, when Charlie Brown enters a spelling bee.
The laid-back feel of the film is further enhanced by two surprising musical numbers: Snoopy’s playing of the American National Anthem and Schroeder’s playing of the complete second movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata pathétique, which is arguably the film’s highlight. Snoopy receives a fair deal of screen-time, and two of his fantasies are shown: him as a pilot in World War I and as a skater in Holland and in an ice-hockey game. Nevertheless, the story remains with Charlie Brown and his doomed attempt to gain respect. His frustrations and failure are funny, but remain genuine and heartfelt. This focus make the film a well-made tribute to Charles M. Schulz’s strip of the early 1960’s, when Charlie Brown’s frustrations were the strip’s main focal point.
Overall, the designs are gorgeous, especially in the musical interludes, which feature bold, colorfull images. The jazzy score, too, is a delight, and enhances the film’s unique atmosphere. In all, ‘A Boy Named Charlie Brown’ is a great film which has a typical 1960’s feel without ever getting cheap.
Watch ‘A Boy Named Charlie Brown’ yourself and tell me what you think: