Saturday, January 8, 2011

Butch Patrick in The Phantom Tollbooth 1970

We all remember Butch Patrick as the little werewolf child of Herman and Lilly Munster. What few know is that Mr. Patrick had been having, and has continued to have a rather prolific career. In 1970 he starred as Milo in the Chuck Jones animated film of Norman Juster's children's classic The Phantom Tollbooth. Bored, Milo has sort of given up on life at the tender age of about 9. One day, an enormous package appears in his room, and magically unwraps itself to reveal a tollbooth and toy car. With nothing else to do, Milo decides to drive through the toll booth. He comes out on the other side as an animated version of himself, and on a road to Expectations. As he proceeds through this new land he learns lessons about navigating the ins and outs of life and interactions with others and regains his curiosity and desire to rejoin life. The film is beautifully illustrated by the Chuck Jones team, with marvelously witty characters and voiced by such animation luminaries as Mel Blanc. The style of illustration differs greatly from the book, however, so fans of the book are usually disappointed by the film. If you're coming to it fresh, though, it's fun to watch. Also listen for Hans Conried (The 10,000 Fingers of Dr. T.) as King Azaz and The Mathmagician.

This was the last animated film to come out of MGM and it was delayed in release due to the internal problems going on there at the time. The film was actually completed in 1969. It's not available on DVD yet, but a digitally remastered release is in the works. It was released on VHS in the early 90's, and copies are still floating around. In the mean time, you can watch the entire film on YouTube as uploaded by lesinistre. The first installment is above.

Obscurity factor: 8 (not on DVD, available on VHS and YouTube)


  1. My goodness! What a time bomb to my memory. I first saw this in the early 70's when I was about 10 yrs.
    Totally forgot about this movie.
    Thanks for sharing Ben!

  2. This one's actually now out on DVD via the Warner Archive. Yay!!

  3. Yay is right! Thanks for the heads up on that... Know if there are any fun extras?

  4. Well, it's Warner Archive ... there might be a trailer, if you're lucky.