Friends, I write a lot about movies because they have always been a very important part of my life – that was true in my childhood as it is today. I am generally at my most happiest when sitting in a darkened auditorium or room watching a film – granted I lean towards horror movies more often than not thanks to my upbringing but I do enjoy all genres. As should be expected, in my youth I would say my favorite genres were sci-fi, horror, and animated features. My earliest memories of going to see movies at a theater were Disney films like Blackbeard’s Ghost, Bambi, and The Shaggy D.A.. I mostly saw these films in a rather rundown movie theater in my neck of the woods – while in it’s day it was in fact a movie palace… those days were long gone. There was still magic in that theater however at least to a child like myself – especially when watching a movie like 1977’s Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure with my Father one spring night. It was a very different animated film than I had seen before – at five years old I could remember understanding that – I also recall being a little frightened by the inhabitants of Looney Land. Which I believe you will understand when you watch this charming trailer for Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure – at the very least you will get a glimpse of the different animation style that was used in the film as well as a type of testomonial trailer that isn’t used as often these days.
It is more than fair to say that I was entertained by Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure far more than my Father was – quite frankly he has always detested musicals. However the movie’s curious blend of live action elements with it’s style of animation made it a favorite of mine – a film that I would rent often when it hit VHS in 1985. Another important element that I love about the film – dated as it might be – is the fact it features songs and a score by the late and great Joe Raposo. If you watched that trailer already you know that Raposo worked on the Sesame Street television series, he not only wrote that memorable theme song but also penned “Bein’ Green” and “C is for Cookie” – besides working on music for The Electric Company. In addition he also wrote the theme songs for both Three’s Company and it’s spin-off The Ropers and even the iconic theme for The 4:30 Movie!
When Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure began production it originally was going to be helmed by Abe Levitow – a protege of Chuck Jones – but he grew sick and passed away. That left Richard Williams – the future animation director for Who Framed Roger Rabbit to step in and take over the reins of the animated picture. Williams had at this point cut his teeth with over 2,500 commercials and provided animated openings to such films as A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and What’s New Pussycat? and by 1977 had actually won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short film for A Christmas Carol.
It appears that Williams wasn’t happy with the shape of the film – he felt the characters were lacking and that there were far too many musical segment. The Producers of Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure refused to budge – to have the film altered… which sadly resulted in the production going over budget and Williams being taken off the picture before it was completed. Interestingly enough the little girl that plays Marcella – the owner of the toys in the film was played by Richard’s Daughter, Claire Williams – actually the bus driver was an uncredited Joe Raposo!
Sadly Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure failed to find it’s audience and being honest I will admit the film is far from perfect. It was and is however still enjoyable for it’s beautiful animation and it’s soundtrack by Raposo – at the time of this writing I regret to say that the movie has not been released to DVD or on Blu-Ray. Although you can find VHS copies online for a pretty decent price – be warned though if you go seeking the LP for the soundtrack as I’ve found them to be selling for $70 and upwards.
So did you ever see Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Music Adventure? I would love to hear your memories on the 1977 animated film in the comments section!