Pete, a young orphan, runs away to a Maine fishing town with his best friend--a lovable, sometimes invisible dragon named Elliott! When they are taken in by a kind lighthouse keeper, Nora (Helen Reddy), and her father (Mic... more »key Rooney), Elliott's prank playing lands them in big trouble. Then, when crooked salesmen try to capture Elliott for their own gain, Pete must attempt a daring rescue.« less
""Pete's Dragon" (1977) has become a somewhat forgotten Disney movie that was originally inspired by the success of Mary Poppins (45th Anniversary Special Edition) as a live-action/animation musical. The story finally got the green-light in 1975; songs were by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn, and an all-star cast was assembled: singer Helen Reddy in her first film role, Broadway's Jim Dale, Shelley Winters, Red Buttons, Jim Backus, and Mickey Rooney. Sean Marshall, in his first acting job, portrayed the title character of Pete.
Pete is a young orphan who has escaped the abusive family that adopted him: a dirty bunch of hillbillies known as The Gogans (Jeff Conaway, Kenickie from Grease (Rockin' Rydell Edition) [Blu-ray] plays one of The Gogans). They adopted Pete to use him as a slave. Elliott, a large green dragon who can become invisible at will, helps Pete escape, and acts as his friend and protector. Pete ends up in the small village of Passamaquoddy, where he is taken in by kindly Nora (Reddy) and her father Lampie (Rooney). The two own the lighthouse in town, where Nora waits for her boyfriend Paul to return, even though he was lost at sea years before. The Gogans find Pete and attempt to steal him back, with the aid of Doc Terminus (Dale), a medicine showman, and his shill, Hoagy (Buttons). Although fairly predictable, it is a heartwarming story with an excellent cast and music that is light and breezy. Definitely good fare for the young!
Nominated for Best Original Score and Best Original Song ("Candle in the Water"), pleasantly sung by Reddy.
When watching today, the animation looks a little antiquated, as digital animation and the ability to combine live-action with cartoons has obviously improved since 1977. Still, with the limitations of the day, what the Disney team was able to create is still quite impressive. The entire town of Passamaquoddy was built on the Disney backlot, with a functioning lighthouse built above Morro Bay, California. The US Coast Guard had to give permission to Disney to actually light it so as not to confuse real ships in the water. Disney's Golden Oak Ranch in Santa Clarita was also used for a number of outdoor shots.
SPECS: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound * Widescreen (1.66:1)--Enhanced for 16x9 TVs. This was the first Disney film recorded in the Dolby Stereo sound system. The clarity and color of the image of the DVD are excellent; sound is good too, but nothing that will really blow your speakers away. Running time of approximately 129 minutes, which is just about 5 minutes short of the original roadshow version.
Sneak Peeks: Snow White on Blu-ray, The Prince & The Frog (theatrical), Disney Blu-ray, Hannah Montana the Movie, Up, D23, Earth, and Tinkerbell: The Lost Treasure.
Brazzle Dazzle Effects (25:23): Narrated by Sean Marshall (Pete) who is heard present day, but never seen! Sean takes us on a journey telling the history of live-action/animation in Disney films, beginning the Alice Comedies. Virginia Davis (Alice) recalls pantomiming to invisible animals. "Children love to pretend. I loved to pretend, too." Disney thought that by putting a live girl in an animated setting he could get a leg-up on the competition. Ub Iwerks joined the Disney team early, left, and then returned in the 1940's. Many of the special effect processes that have made Disney film magic possible were a result of his genius. "The Three Caballeros" was a milestone in 1945 in combining color live-action film with animation. Using rear-screen projection and special process-lab effects, Iwerks helped the film accomplish many things never seen before. The real jump came in 1959 with "Ten Who Dared," a film that used the Sodium Vapor Process Screen. Using yellow lights/filters, filmmakers were able to block out backgrounds that made it easier to combine the animation. Without this process, "The Parent Trap" and "Mary Poppins" would never have been possible. Marshall recalls filming "Pete's Dragon" in the summer of 1976. He loved the entire process: special effects, acting, dancing, makeup. "The only thing I didn't like was the fame!" He recalls Red Buttons and Mickey Rooney attempting to upstage each other, and how choreographer Onna White's instruction helped prepare him to be a college pole-vaulter. In this featurette, you will see the original live-action film and learn how it was combined with the animation. Very interesting to watch documentary.
Original Song Concept: "Boo Bop BopBop Bop (I Love You Too)" (2:35): Very pop-sounding; almost a little out of place. Not missed from the storyline, it featured both Pete & Elliott.
Original Demo Recordings (all from February 11, 1976):
Brazzle Dazzle Day: Alternate song, first attempt. The song was liked by re-written.
Every Little Piece: Alternate melody. Thought to be too somber, the lyrics were kept, but the melody was rewritten.
The Greatest Star of All: Deleted song for a deleted character. Artist Ken Anderson thought 2 villains were not needed, so both song and character were cut.
Pop versions of songs from the movie released on a 7" Vista record are presented here: It's Not Easy, Brazzle Dazzle Day, There's Room For Everyone, Candle on the Water.
Art Galleries: Concept Art, Behind-the-scenes, and publicity galleries. Varying quality, but still very cool to see, especially the behind-the-scenes shots.
Trailers: International & Theatrical Trailers
"About Pete's Dragon": 5 screens with production notes about the movie.
"Disney Family Album" (excerpt, 2:20): About artist Ken Anderson. He describes how he based Elliott on Wallace Beery - large, bumbling, but loveable. He also is seen at the Disney ranch, which he describes as his Laughing Place.
"The Plausible Impossible" (excerpt, 3:36): From the Disneyland TV show, October 31, 1956. Shows the Disney Art of Animation book, with chapter 5 about the Plausible Impossible--using animation to make the unreal look real. Clips from Fantasia shown.
"Lighthouse Keeping" (1956, 6:45): Donald Duck cartoon
Includes a game for the very young, where you must find Elliott.
Overall, a really great DVD with enjoyable extras."
Loved it as a kid, love it more now!!
J. L. Mould | Milwaukee, Wi United States | 04/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Pete's Dragon has always been one of my favorite movies. This is a wonderful classic movie you can watch with your children. The songs are fun, and lighthearted. I love the part when they sing about how they would use the dragon pieces. They do this silly little dance, which is really funny. I loved it as a child, and love it even more now. I think that Elliot is a dragon with a huge heart, and it is just fun to watch!"
Sorely Underated and Too Often Bashed
Tom Albright | Oregon, USA | 11/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is really sad to see how cruel people can be out there. I will admit to you that this may be a little heavy for a kid's movie, but it has some excellent points to make. I continue to see this movie derided by people and press and it makes me very sad how people don't give it a chance. I wes very impressed with the music, I have all of the soundtracks, LP, Cassette and CD, I own the movie on VHS and DVD and it has always been my favorite movie of all time. Perhaps it's my favorite because it is such a step away from normal, lightheated children's movies. I read somewhere that Walt Disney was probably rolling in his grave when this movie came out, and I would like to say I believe that person to be sorely mistaken. While a bit flawed, this is truly an excelent Disney film. Remember, "There's Room for EVERYONE in this World" as the song states, give this movie a chance. This is a wonderful film to watch with your children and discuss afterwards, maybe even watch on your own. It is NOT strictly for children. While Pete's Dragon is based, derided, and generally forgotten, I urge all of you to at least rent this gem and bring it out of the obscurity it doesn't deserve."
"I Swear I Saw a Dragon!"
Mark Baker | Santa Clarita, CA United States | 09/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Pete (Sean Marshall) is a poor orphan. He's been adopted by the mean Gogan family run by the matriarch Lena (Shelley Winters). The Gogans make him work from morning til night and beat him for the slightest thing.
So, naturally, he runs away. Only this time he has help in the form of Elliot. Elliot is a dragon. And while he doesn't always think about what he's doing, he means well. And he really wants to help Pete.
Pete and Elliot happen to find the town of Passamaquoddy on the coast of Maine. Their first trip through town doesn't go well, so they find themselves out by the lighthouse, where they make friends with Lampie (Mickey Rooney) the lighthouse keeper and his adult daughter Nora (Helen Reddy). Have they found a real home at last?
Meanwhile, Doc Terminus (Jim Dale) and his assistant Hoagy (Red Buttons) have wandered into town. The Doc is a quack, selling fake potions and running from one town to the next just ahead of the lynch mob. They get word of the dragon and set out to capture him for the money they can make from his body parts. Will they get their hands on Elliot?
This was a favorite movie as a kid, and I still find it entertaining as an adult. Which is surprising when you consider the serious subject matter dealt with. Lampie is an alcoholic and Pete is running away from an abusive home. I think one reason it works is that the villains are so over the top you can't take them too seriously. There's some classic vaudeville in them. Heck, I often feel like booing the bad Doc.
And the music really helps. Yes, this is a musical with 10 songs. Honestly, I love all these songs in their own way. Of course, "Candle on the Water" is the most famous. I think my favorite is "Brazzle Dazzle Day."
Elliot is an animated dragon inhabiting a live action world. While by no means state of the art for today, it does hold up remarkable well for a 30 year old film.
All told, this really is a fun movie that kids of all ages will enjoy. If that's you or your family, sit down and watch this classic today."
The age window is wide
N. K. Bodkin | 02/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with previous reviews; why can I only like this movie from ages 3-7? Yes, the animation does not rival current x-box releases, but does x-box have witty and mellifluous songs from snake oil charlatans, drunken dragon watchers and dirty hillbillies, as well as endearing friendship songs about loving someone even though they have the ears of a cow? I thought not!"