Its the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

  • Director: Bill Melendez
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Starring: Peter Robbins, Christopher Shea, Sally Dryer, Cathy Steinberg
  • Screenplay: Charles M Schulz
  • Based on the Comics By: Charles M Schulz
  • Music By: Vince Guaraldi            
  • Film Editing: Robert T. Gillis       
  • Running Time: 25 Minutes
  • Premiered: October 27, 1966 (TV)

Synopsis: The Peanuts gang celebrates Halloween while Linus waits for the Great Pumpkin. (From IMDb)

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Review: I have never enjoyed frightening movies, I like psychological thrillers, but not scare-me-sleepless type films.  Halloween always involved one movie: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. My father loved this movie as a kid and insisted that all of his children watched it at least once. Ever since my fifth birthday, The Great Pumpkin is the only movie I associate with Halloween.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown debuted in 1966 as an American prime time animated television special. This was the third animated special based upon the Peanuts cartoon by Charles Schulz. It was also the first special to use the pattern of a short phrase, followed by “Charlie Brown”, a titular sequence that became the norm for all subsequent Peanuts specials.  From 1966 to 2000, CBS had the syndication rights and aired the special every Halloween. Starting in 2001, ABC took over the airing rights and also plays it every Halloween week.  

Narrative wise, the film follows a simple pattern: Linus believes in the Great Pumpkin and no one else does. Despite the fact that the Pumpkin never appears, Linus holds out hope this this year the Great Pumpkin will finally appear.

On Halloween night, while the rest of the gang goes trick-or-treating, Linus and Sally wait patiently for the Great Pumpkin. Sally only hanging out in the patch due to her unrequited crush on Linus. After waiting all evening, Linus spots a shadowy figure rising from the moonlit patch, assumes it is the Great Pumpkin, and faints. Sally realizes it is only Snoopy. When Linus wakes, she furiously yells at him for making her miss Halloween.

When daylight arrives, Charlie Brown and Linus lean against a wall and commiserate about the previous night’s disappointments. Charlie Brown attempts to console his friend. This infuriates Linus, who begins to vow that the Great Pumpkin will come to the pumpkin patch next year. Charlie Brown listens with an annoyed look as the credits roll.

Like all the Peanuts specials, the run time is just long enough to tell a story without over staying its welcome. The animation holds up for the most part, the restored versions look pretty good, even on high resolution screens.

This film will always have strong nostalgic value. Fall never seems complete until It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown debuts.

Happy Halloween!

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