Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
This animated feature based on the popular E.B. White book for children--about the special relationships between Wilbur the pig, Charlotte the spider, and Templeton the rat--is a straight adaptation from the page, with son... more »
Delightful rendition of the 1952 classic children's novel.
Lisa Ebeling | smalltown, USA | 09/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm amazed that the animated film "Charlotte's Web" is almost thirty years old, but it's as wonderful today as when it was released (1973) and the production values equal those that we judge children's films by even today. This movie is the only animated version of E.B. White's novel by the same name (c. 1952) that I've found. The novel was a 1953 John Newbery Honor book (not the 1st-place prize, the "Newbery Medal" but one of the runners-up). Hanna-Barbera produced a faithful rendering of the novel, which is one of the reasons for the film's success.Another reason for the enduring popularity of this VHS is the brilliant casting of voice talent. The chief characters' voices are played by some of America's most prolific actors of the early 1970s, including Rex Allen, Paul Lynde, Agnes Moorehead, Debbie Reynolds, Henry Gibson, and Pamelyn Ferdin. Don't remember some of these people? Here are some reminders:The late Rex Allen (narrator) was the quintessential dispassionate narrator of so many Walt Disney nature specials and made many early movies; late comedian Paul Lynde (rat), who is the only Templeton I can ever imagine as he's the only actor I think has mastered the art of the "verbal sneer," had his own variety show; the late Agnes Moorehead (goose), played Endora the witch on the "Bewitched" series and had parts in over 70 feature films; tiresomely-perky Debbie Reynolds (Charlotte), known for movie musicals and dancing, is fairly inoffensive in this movie, even during the relatively brief vocal numbers; Henry Gibson (Wilbur), is a comedian whom you'll remember from the TV series "Laugh-In"; and Pamelyn Ferdin (Fern), who must have had voice lessons after she did the voice of Lucy Van Pelt in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" (what, 1969?) and before she participated in this project--somehow she lost the "whine" that makes her so distinguishable-- (Remember Pamelyn? You can also easily pick her out in an old original-series "Star Trek" episode in which she plays a SCARY child named Mary! Sorry, I'm off the subject.)There's so much to love about this film. I always laugh at the scene in which the goose encourages Wilbur to speak for the first time and he grunts/oinks and then stammers, "W-w-w-w-w-w-Wilbur! " (Overlook that he immediately discovers that not only can he talk, but he can SING!) Gibson's portrayal of Wilbur, the shy, queasy, litle-bit-naive young pig is very endearing, but his voice isn't as distinctive as that of other actors of that era (George Lindsey, for example). If someone ever re-makes "Charlotte's Web," their greatest obstacle to true success will be replacing Paul Lynde, the ideal Templeton.Templeton staggering drunkenly back to Wilbur's crate after gorging himself all night long at the fair is a classic scene. His grossly distended belly seems to have a life of its own as it ripples and burbles along independent of the movement of the rest of his body. Great animation! I really like the score by a couple of guys named Sherman (brothers?) and the orchestration by Irwin Kostal; in addition to the expected lively numbers, there are some very nice gentle songs, one of which is beautifully sung by a men's choir. My own favorite number is the one sung by a barbershop quartet (a genre which deserves more attention than it gets) at the fair. Even though this film is so "old," I think it was used as casting inspiration by CBS/Endemol when they selected George Boswell for "Big Brother." My favorite scene is an exchange between Mrs. Zuckerman and her husband as they discuss the meaning of Charlotte's first spiderweb message. Edith: "Seems to me you're a little off; seems to me we have no ordinary spider." Homer: "No, it's just a common grey spider. See? It's sittin' right there." If "Charlotte's Web" is made into a live-action film, BB's George would be ideal for the role of dim-witted, understated Homer Zuckerman. George even looks like the cartoon character! On a more serious note, Charlotte's straightforward attitude about her approaching death offers an opportunity to talk with children about death. This movie also presented my first chance to talk with my son (almost 4) about where meat comes from. When the Arabels discuss Wilbur being turned into bacon and ham, my boy was quite curious. He seemed alarmed, but so far hasn't refused to eat meat!So if you don't already have a copy of "Charlotte's Web," buy this video before it's taken out of circulation; it's a gem you'll want in your collection. Need a memorable birthday or holiday gift for a child? You can't go wrong with a classic movie, and this is sure to be a favorite--as you will be if you give "Charlotte's Web" to a lucky boy or girl."
A charming treasure
Lisa Ebeling | 01/12/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I was a child, my parents took me to see this movie in the theatre after seeing how I devoured the book over and over again. Now, I have the chance to enjoy it with my own children, and even after enough repeated viewings that it's become necessary to purchase another copy, we still enjoy it every time.This is a charming adaptation of E.B. White's classic children's tale, with some precious dialog, and even though the animation isn't up to Disney standards, it's still leagues above Pokemon standards. And the casting! Oh my, whomever put Paul Lynde in the role of Templeton the Rat gets my vote as casting agent of the century (closely followed by the person responsible for Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story...but I digress). The movie could hardly be improved upon.Buy it, enjoy it, treasure it. It's a marvelous tale you'll enjoy over and over again."
"how very special are we, for just a moment to be...."
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 07/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"E.B. White's tender story of life, love and loss has never been more eloquently-told than in this classic animated musical version of CHARLOTTE'S WEB, now finally on DVD. It's the story of Wilbur the Pig, and his amazing friendship with Charlotte, a spider who decides to help him when it's revealed that Wilbur is to be fattened for slaughter. Charlotte and her web may just hold the key to Wilbur's salvation. Henry Gibson and Debbie Reynolds add wonderful layers to the roles of Wilbur and Charlotte in their vocal performances. Agnes Moorehead plays the triple-talking Goose with Paul Lynde as the snide, sly rat Templeton. The role of Fern Arable, the young girl who saves the baby Wilbur, is played with shining innocence by Pamelyn Ferdin. The beautiful score by the Sherman Brothers perfectly enhances the story. This is one of those childhood movies you never seem to outgrow. A real family favourite.
Forget the upcoming remake with Dakota Fanning. This will always remain the definitive screen version of CHARLOTTE'S WEB."
A Timeless Masterpiece!
erobideau | Pittsburgh, PA United States | 07/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the best stories ever written, and this adaptation does it great justice. My daughter, 3, has watched it for over 4 months now and knows every song, every bit of dialog, and enjoys it over and over. And I'm so happy with the warmth of the story, the animation, how well each song fits into the story line. It's simply charming!! The animals' voices are wonderful!! Debbie Reynolds is a noble and nurturing Charlott, Henry Gibson is a perfect Wilbur, Agnes Moorehead is a hilarious stuttering goose, and who else but Paul Lynde could play Templeton the Rat with such panache?? (I don't know who does the sheep's voice, but he's also well cast). If you have smaller children, you can't do without this video!!"