The Hobbit (1977 film): Wikis


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The Hobbit
Directed by Jules Bass,
Arthur Rankin, Jr.
Produced by Jules Bass
Arthur Rankin, Jr.
Written by Novel:
J. R. R. Tolkien
Romeo Muller
Music by Maury Laws
Distributed by National Broadcasting Company
Warner Bros.
Release date(s) November 27, 1977
Running time 90 min.
Language English
Budget US$3,000,000 (est.)
Followed by The Return of the King

The Hobbit is a 1977 animated television movie adaptation of the book by J. R. R. Tolkien. The film was made by Rankin/Bass Productions and manages to economically retell most of the story within its 78-minute duration. An LP with the soundtrack and dialogue from the film was also released in 1977 by Disney through its Buena Vista Records label and an edited version, along with accompanying "storyteller read-alongs," was later issued for the Mouse Factory's Disneyland Records imprint. Harry N. Abrams published a large coffee-table illustrated edition of the book featuring concept art and stills. A second album by Glenn Yarbrough of music "inspired" by The Hobbit was also released.

The film was first broadcast on NBC in the United States, on November 27, 1977 (on Sunday night, three days after Thanksgiving) and is presented in a heart-warming style, featuring a lot of songs (many of which are based on poems and lyrics from the book). Much of the story has been simplified and several episodes and key scenes are omitted.



According to Arthur Rankin, Jr., the visual style of the film took its basic cue from the early illustrations of Arthur Rackham. Rankin further hoped that, with this particular film, he would add nothing to the story that wasn't in the original.[1]

The story's hero, Bilbo Baggins, was voiced by Orson Bean, backed up by John Huston as the voice of Gandalf. Otto Preminger was the voice of the Elvenking, Richard Boone grumbled and bellowed as the dragon Smaug, Cyril Ritchard spoke for Elrond, Hans Conried voiced Thorin Oakenshield, and the comedian and performance artist Brother Theodore was chosen for the voice of Gollum. Rankin-Bass icon Paul Frees co-starred as Bombur; Don Messick portrayed Balin and the Lord of the Eagles; John Stephenson did double voice duty, first as the charming and proud archer Bard; then as Dori, the third major member of Thorin's Company; in addition, they and Jack DeLeon supplied the voices of the eight other members of Thorin's Company as well as the goblins. Thurl Ravenscroft performed the singing voices of the goblins.

The film was produced and directed by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass and adapted for the screen by Romeo Muller; with Rankin taking on the additional duties of production designer, and Bass adapting some of Tolkien's original lyrics, as well as contributing, along with Maury Laws, R/B's composer-conductor-in residence, an original theme song, "The Greatest Adventure (The Ballad of the Hobbit)", sung by Glenn Yarbrough.

While the concept artwork was completed in the US,[1] a noted Japanese animation studio Topcraft, produced the animation for Rankin-Bass. Principal artists included coordinating animator Toru Hara; supervising animator/character designer Tsuguyuki Kubo; character and effects animators Hidetoshi Kaneko, Kazuko Ito; and background designer Minoru Nishida. The same studio and crew members were also used for The Return of the King.

The New York Times reported that The Hobbit cost $3 million.[1]

At the same time as the broadcast of The Hobbit Rankin/Bass and the animation houses were preparing the sequel, taking elements from the last volume of The Lord of the Rings novel.[1] The voice team including Bean, Huston, Theodore, Frees and Messick, would also return for the 1980 adaptation of The Return of the King.

Critical reaction

In 1978, Romeo Muller won a Peabody Award for his teleplay for The Hobbit. The film was also nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, but lost to Star Wars. The adaptation has been called "excruciable"[2] and confusing for those not already familiar with the plot.[3] In contrast, reviewer Tom Keogh praises the adaptation as "excellent" saying the work "get[s] big points" for being "faithful to Tolkien's story" and that the "vocal cast can't be improved upon."[4]

Video and DVD releases

The Hobbit was released on video by Sony and ABC Video Enterprises in the late 1970s/early 1980s. The film was released on the second video by Warner Home Video in 1991, and again in 2001 (through Warner Bros. Family Entertainment).

The film was released on DVD by Warner Bros. for the DVD trilogy boxed set (the second DVD was The Lord of the Rings, and the third DVD is The Return of the King). The DVD version of the film is noted for a compromised soundtrack with many missing sound effects cues (goblets clanking & hammer-tinkering noises omitted, spider death screams, to name a few), along with several lines of dialogue. To date Warner Bros. has not issued a corrected disc or a statement about the problems with the soundtrack. Comparison made with earlier VHS tapes confirms these omissions.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Culhan, John. Will the Video Version of Tolkien Be Hobbit Forming? The New York Times, Nov 27,1977
  2. ^ Anderson. Donald A. The Annotated Hobbit
  3. ^ Kask, TJ, NBC's The Hobbit, Dragon Magazine, December 1977
  4. ^ reviews for The Hobbit

External links



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