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A Boy Named Charlie Brown

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Directed by: Bill Melendez
Written by: Charles M. Schulz
Release date: December 4, 1969
Running time: 86 minutes
Preceded by: No previous movie
Followed by: Snoopy, Come Home
Availability: {{{media}}}

A Boy Named Charlie Brown is a 1969 Academy Award-nominated animated film produced by Cinema Center Films and released by 20th Century Fox. It was 20th Century Fox's first animated feature, and the first of four theatrical features based on the Peanuts comic strip.

Plot

Charlie Brown's first Little League baseball game of the season approaches, and he eagerly goes to the stadium; the game starts, and the team fails the first game of the summer season. Charlie Brown walks home musing that they always lose the first and last games of the season; and all the ones in between. Later on that day, Linus shows up at the front porch of the house and tries to cheer Charlie Brown up, stating that people learn more from losing than from winning.

However, Charlie replies sarcastically, "I guess that makes me the smartest person in the whole world." Linus takes the tone of voice, and tells Charlie Brown that if he keeps thinking he is a loser, it will not help. Positively, Linus tells Charlie Brown that he is sure that someday he will win.

The next day, Charlie Brown stops by Lucy's psychiatry booth. Lucy tells Charlie Brown that she can help him point out his faults better than anyone else (this session includes a classic football kick). At her house, Lucy reveals a slide projector and a screen, onto which slides showing Charlie Brown's myriad faults will be displayed. However, the 'evidence' does not help Charlie Brown at all, and makes him feel even more miserable.

On the way to school the next day, Linus encounters Charlie Brown, who tells him about the slide show that Lucy showed. As they near the playground, Lucy jokingly comes up to Charlie Brown, and explains that the school is having a spelling bee, and laughs at the thought of him volunteering.

Linus, however, thinks that entering the spelling bee is a good idea. His opinion is met by more laughter and insults by Lucy, Patty, and Violet, which sets Charlie's mind to volunteer. Later in class, Charlie Brown nervously volunteers, and manages to beat the other kids in the class.

The next day, he will be going up against the other kids in the school. Filled with determination, he, Linus, and Snoopy go home and study through the dictionary. With Snoopy's accompaniment, Linus and Charlie sing about some spelling rules. As the school-wide spelling bee kicks off, Charlie's mind is filled with all sorts of words, rules, and doubts, as he is feeling the pressure of his class watching him take on the best spellers in the school. It soon comes down to Charlie Brown, but when Snoopy, who is outside playing a Jew's harp, plays the song that helped Charlie Brown remember spelling tips; it clears his mind and Charlie Brown wins the Bee. The kids cheerfully follow him home, singing a song titled "Champion Charlie Brown."

Later on, at Charlie Brown's house, Lucy proclaims that Charlie Brown (with his newfound fame) should have an agent, which she would naturally be the best. The others recommend that Charlie Brown should start studying again, which confuses him, given that he just won the spelling bee. The others tell him his victory in the school spelling bee has given him the privilege to take part in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee.

Charlie's feelings about his victory immediately turn, as he finds his feelings about his bad luck once again eating away at him. Soon afterward, Charlie Brown boards the bus for the trip to New York City. Linus wishes him luck, but then generously, albeit reluctantly, hands Charlie his blanket for good luck. The kids cheer Charlie on as the bus pulls away. Back at home, we see Lucy speaking to Schroeder, which of course ends in his frustration. He plays Beethoven's symphony on his piano while images play across the screen.

When Lucy returns home, she finds Linus suffering terribly from withdrawal after giving his blanket to Charlie Brown. Finally unable to take it anymore, he pleads with Snoopy to help him go to New York to find Charlie Brown and get his blanket back. Soon afterward, an exhausted Charlie Brown opens on his door and is greeted by the enthusiastic Snoopy. Linus, however, passes out. As he comes back to consciousness, he explains to Charlie Brown that he is dying without his blanket.

Charlie tells him that he is not sure where the blanket could be. One possibility could be that he left it at the New York Public Library. Linus and Snoopy then take off through the streets of New York in the dark night. As they continue walking, Snoopy gets distracted, and ends up ice-skating at the Rockefeller Center ice rink. Soon, he catches up to Linus at the library, who, after peering through the front doors of the closed structure, is convinced it is not there. Angrily, he storms back to Charlie Brown's hotel room to tell him.

Back at the hotel, as Linus continues to suffer from withdrawal, Charlie Brown dresses for the contest. As Charlie Brown shines his shoes, Linus stares in shock: the cloth he is using is Linus' blanket! Linus dives for it, ecstatic to have it back. The three then set off for the spelling bee.

Charlie Brown goes backstage while Linus and Snoopy take their seats in the auditorium where the spelling bee is to be held. Back at home, the rest of the gang are tuning in to the spelling bee, which is being broadcast on television. One by one, the other contestants leave the spelling bee, until it is just Charlie Brown and one other boy (who for some reason looks exactly like or a cousin of Schroeder).

Charlie Brown is then disqualified for misspelling, of all words, "beagle" as "B-E-A-G-E-L." Everyone lets out a huge scream; besides it being a relatively simple word, Snoopy is himself a beagle. Sadly, Charlie Brown returns home after he had bad luck winning, along with Linus and Snoopy. When they get home in the nighttime, no one is there to greet them.

The next day, Linus goes to Charlie Brown's house, where he meets Sally. She tells him that her brother has been in his room all day with the shades down. As Linus knocks on the door, Charlie Brown asks who it is. When Linus asks if he can come in, Charlie Brown replies morosely, "I don't care." Linus didn't care what Charlie said so he sees Charlie Brown lying in bed.

When Linus mentions that the other kids missed him at school, he replies that he is not going back to school again. Linus tells him that he should feel that he let everyone down by losing the Spelling Bee, fooled out of himself, and everything else. As he turns to go, he looks back. He said, "But did you notice something, Charlie Brown? The world didn't come to an end."

As Linus shuts the door, Charlie Brown thinks for a moment, gets dressed, and then goes outside where the other kids are still playing marbles, jumping rope, and Lucy holding a football for him to kick. She says "Welcome home, Charlie Brown." Just as Linus said, he still has his whole life ahead of him to prove he is a winner.

Cast

Music

A Boy Named Charlie Brown, also included several original songs, some of which boasted vocals for the first time: "Failure Face", "I Before E Except After C" and "Champion Charlie Brown.

The instrumental tracks interspersed throughout the movie were composed by Vince Guaraldi and arranged by John Scott Trotter (who also wrote "I Before E Except After C"). The music consisted mostly of uptempo jazz tunes that had been heard since some of the earliest Peanuts television specials aired back in 1965; however, for A Boy Named Charlie Brown, they were given a more "theatrical" treatment, with lusher horn-filled arrangements. Instrumental tracks used in the film included "Skating" (first heard in A Charlie Brown Christmas) and "Baseball Theme" (first heard in Charlie Brown's All-Stars). Guaraldi and Trotter were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score for their work on A Boy Named Charlie Brown

Release

Paramount Pictures and CBS both owns the film today, as they are the former owners of the Peanuts library. The movie was released on DVD for the first time ever on March 28, 2006 by Paramount Home Entertainment, along with it's sequel, Snoopy Come Home. A Peanuts Double Feature DVD box set containing both films was released on March 15, 2011.

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