It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
|It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown|
Title card from 1966 TV special
|Genre||Animated TV Special|
|Created by||Charles M. Schulz|
|Written by||Charles M. Schulz|
|Directed by||Bill Melendez|
|Theme music composer||Vince Guaraldi|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Executive producer(s)||Lee Mendelson|
|Editor(s)||Robert T. Gillis|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Lee Mendelson Productions|
Bill Melendez Productions
United Feature Syndicate
|Original release||October 27, 1966|
|Preceded by||Charlie Brown's All-Stars|
|Followed by||You're in Love, Charlie Brown|
A Halloween special, it was the third Peanuts special (and second holiday-themed special, following A Charlie Brown Christmas) to be produced and animated by Bill Melendez. The special features music composed by jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi, whose contributions include the theme song “Linus and Lucy”. It was also the first Peanuts special to use the titular pattern of a short phrase, followed by "Charlie Brown", a pattern which would remain the norm for almost all subsequent Peanuts specials.
Its initial broadcast took place on October 27, 1966, on CBS, preempting My Three Sons. The original sponsors were Coca-Cola, the original sponsor of A Charlie Brown Christmas, and the Dolly Madison brand of baked snack foods, which would go on to be a longtime co-sponsor of the Peanuts specials on CBS. CBS re-aired the special annually through 2000, with ABC picking up the rights beginning in 2001, where it now airs annually during the Halloween season. Since 2006 ABC has usually aired the special twice, once in a truncated format during a half-hour time slot and once in full during an hour-long time slot (filled out with a partial version of the 1972 special You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown). The special is also aired on Family Channel in Canada since 2018.
The program was nominated for a 1966 Emmy Award. It has been issued on home video several times, including a Remastered Deluxe Edition of the special released by Warner Home Video on September 2, 2008, with the bonus feature It's Magic, Charlie Brown which was released in 1981. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, a retrospective book was published in 2006. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: The Making of a Television Classic includes the entire script, never-before-seen photographs, storyboard excerpts, and interviews with the original child actors who provided the voices of the Peanuts gang.
A history of the program and the various religious interpretations of Linus' sincere belief in the Great Pumpkin are explained in the 2015 book, A Charlie Brown Religion.
With fall in full swing, the Peanuts gang prepares for Halloween. Linus and Lucy go out to the local pumpkin patch to find a pumpkin. Lucy selects the largest they can find, and makes Linus the one to get it back to the house. He becomes distraught when it turns out Lucy is going to gut it to be a jack-o-lantern. After the opening credits, Snoopy helps Charlie Brown finish raking a pile of leaves. But then Linus jumps into the heap with a large lollipop. Then Lucy entices Charlie Brown to kick a football, with the usual results.
Linus is writing his yearly letter to the Great Pumpkin, despite Charlie Brown's disbelief, Snoopy's laughter, Patty's assurance that the Great Pumpkin is a fake, and even his own sister Lucy, who threatens to "pound" him. (She is watching TV and reading a TV Guide with her picture on it.) Only Sally, Charlie Brown's younger sister, smitten with Linus, supports him—until Charlie Brown takes her away, fearing Linus is corrupting her. Linus goes out to mail the letter, lassos the mailbox handle with his security blanket, and opens the box to waft in the letter. Charlie Brown gets invited to a Halloween party hosted by Violet. Neither Charlie Brown nor Lucy can believe his invitation: as he breaks out into a "happy dance," she assumes it is a mistake.
On Halloween night, the gang (including Sally) goes trick-or-treating, each with their own costume. Most dress as ghosts in simple white sheet costumes. Charlie Brown botches his costume, giving it too many holes because of "trouble with the scissors." Pig-Pen's trademark dust cloud makes him easy to identify. Lucy dresses as a witch, saying it is the opposite of her real personality. On the way, they stop at the pumpkin patch to jeer at Linus for missing the festivities, just as he did the previous year. Undeterred, Linus is convinced that the Great Pumpkin will come to his sincere pumpkin patch, and tries to convince Sally to join him. Sally, acting almost entirely on her infatuation with Linus, agrees to skip trick-or-treating.
During "tricks or treats," the kids get their goodies (except for Charlie Brown, who gets nothing but rocks). After going back to the pumpkin patch to tease Linus and Sally, the gang goes to Violet's Halloween party. Violet and Lucy ask Charlie Brown to serve as their model, initially to his delight, then dismay as he learns the real reason why he was invited: the back of his round, bald head made the perfect surface to diagram potential jack-o'-lantern designs on it. Meanwhile, Snoopy, wearing his World War I flying ace costume, climbs aboard his doghouse (imagining it to be a Sopwith Camel fighter plane) to fight with the Red Baron. After a fierce but losing battle, Snoopy makes his way across "the countryside" to briefly crash the Halloween party. Sneaking into an apple bobbing tank, he accidentally kisses Lucy when she picks up an apple, disgusting her and sending her into the same circling frenzy as she did in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Then, he is entertained by Schroeder's playing of World War I tunes on his piano, though the sad songs make him cry. Embarrassed, Snoopy leaves.
Linus and Sally are still in the pumpkin patch. When Linus sees a shadowy figure (which turns out to be Snoopy) rising from the moonlit patch, he mistakes it for the Great Pumpkin and faints. When Linus wakes, Sally furiously yells at him for making her miss the Halloween festivities when Charlie Brown and the others come to get her. As they leave, Linus, still convinced that the Great Pumpkin will materialize, promises to put in a good word for them "if he comes." He then panics, as he had said if instead of when. At four o'clock the next morning, Lucy realizes that Linus is not in his bed. She finds her brother in the pumpkin patch, shivering in his clothes, huddled under his blanket, and half asleep. She brings him home, takes off his shoes, and puts him to bed.
When daylight comes, Charlie Brown and Linus lean against a wall and commiserate about the previous night's disappointments. Charlie Brown attempts to console his friend by saying he has done stupid things in his life, too. This infuriates Linus, who vows that the Great Pumpkin will come to the pumpkin patch next year. Charlie Brown listens with an annoyed look on his face as Linus rants and the credits roll.
- Created and Written by: Charles M. Schulz
- Produced and Directed by: Bill Melendez
- Executive Producer: Lee Mendelson
- Original Score Composed and Performed by: Vince Guaraldi
- Arranged and Conducted by: John Scott Trotter
- Graphic Blandishment by: Ed Levitt, Bernard Gruver, Frank Smith, Ruth Kissane, Dean Spille, Bill Littlejohn, Beverly Robbins, Rudy Zamora, Eleanor Warren, Bob Carlson, Faith Kovaleski, John Freeman, Flora Hastings, Bob Bachman, Børge Ring, Frank Nissen
- Editing: Robert T. Gillis
- Assisted by: Steven Melendez
- Sound by: Producers' Sound Service
- Camera: Nick Vasu
- A Lee Mendelson-Bill Melendez Production
- In Cooperation with United Feature Syndicate, Inc.
- with best wishes from the folks who bake Dolly Madison cakes and from the people who bottle Coca-Cola (from initial telecast)
- THE END "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" © 1966 by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.
Schulz wanted Charlie Brown to get a rock at one house. Melendez suggested it happen three times, and while executive producer Lee Mendelson said no, he was overruled. According to Schulz in the book and retrospective TV special Happy Birthday, Charlie Brown, after the program first aired, bags and boxes of candy came in from all over the world "just for Charlie Brown."
Executive producer Lee Mendelson told The Washington Post that the sequence with Snoopy flying his doghouse was "one of the most memorable animated scenes ever." He also said that of all the Peanuts TV specials, "I believe It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is Bill Melendez’s animation masterpiece."
Similar to the earlier A Charlie Brown Christmas and Charlie Brown's All-Stars specials, It's The Great Pumpkin was sponsored by Coca-Cola and Dolly Madison Cakes. These sponsor tags were replaced in later broadcasts and edited out of the VHS/DVD releases.
The score was performed by the Vince Guaraldi Sextet, featuring Guaraldi on piano, Monty Budwig on bass, Colin Bailey on drums, John Gray on guitar, Ronald Lang on woodwinds and Emmanuel Klein on trumpet. It was orchestrated by John Scott Trotter, arranged by Guaraldi and Robert G. Hartley. All the music was recorded on October 4, 1966, at Desilu's Gower Street Studio in Hollywood.
The instrumental "Linus and Lucy", associated originally with A Charlie Brown Christmas, is used at the beginning of this cartoon as Linus and Lucy prepare a pumpkin to be a jack-o-lantern, as Linus mails his letter to the Great Pumpkin, and when Lucy wakes up at 4 AM to take Linus home from the pumpkin patch. Guaraldi's theme for the special, "The Great Pumpkin Waltz," is first heard when Linus is writing the Great Pumpkin at the beginning and plays throughout. Other songs composed by Guaraldi for this special include "Breathless", "Graveyard Theme", "Trick Or Treat", "The Red Baron", and "Fanfare". The World War I songs played by Schroeder while Snoopy dances are: "It's a Long Way to Tipperary", "There's a Long, Long Trail", "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag", and "Roses of Picardy."
Craft Recordings released the complete soundtrack album from the special on October 12, 2018. Previously, only "Great Pumpkin Waltz" was released on the posthumous compilation album, Charlie Brown's Holiday Hits, as well as Guaraldi's subsequent cover version released on the Warner Bros. Records release, Oh, Good Grief!.
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was first released on VHS by Media Home Entertainment and Hi-Tops Video as part of the "Snoopy's Home Video Library" set. This version included editing of the "trick-or-treat" scene and removed the entire sequence of Schroeder playing World War I-era songs. Paramount Home Video later released the special in its entirety on VHS in the '90s. It was released on DVD on September 12, 2000, with You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown as a bonus special.
After Warner Home Video had obtained the off-air rights to the Charlie Brown library of TV specials, they released a new DVD release under the new "Remastered Deluxe Edition" line on September 2, 2008. On this DVD, the bonus special was It's Magic, Charlie Brown (You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown was released on its own DVD later that year), and it included a new featurette, "We Need a Blockbuster, Charlie Brown". A Blu-ray/DVD combo pack was released on September 7, 2011, with the same features as the Warner DVD. The feature was later released on 4K UHD on October 10, 2017.
- Pallotta, Frank (October 30, 2014). "'Charlie Brown' Halloween is still hot TV". CNN. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
- Cohn, Gabe (October 31, 2017). "What's on TV Tuesday: 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' and 'Major Crimes'". The New York Times. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
- Bonanno, Luke. "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: Remastered Deluxe Edition DVD Review". DVDizzy.com. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
- Lind, Stephen (2015). A Charlie Brown Religion (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi).
- Cavna, Michael (October 19, 2016). "Why It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is the greatest 'Peanuts' visual achievement". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
- "Peanuts Documentary (1985) (5 of 5) - It's Your 20th Television Anniversary, Charlie Brown" (Documentary video). YouTube. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
- "Vince Guaraldi – It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: Music From The Soundtrack (2018, CD) Discogs". Discogs. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
- "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - Music from the Soundtrack". Varèse Sarabande. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
- "Peanuts: Holiday Collection - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Ultra HD Review | High Def Digest". ultrahd.highdefdigest.com. Retrieved December 28, 2017.