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A TRUE CLASSIC!
on June 16, 2008
20the Century Fox has just released a big-screen version of the Dr. Seuss classic Horton Hears a Who, but did you know the story actually made its debut on the small screen nearly 40 years ago? In 1970 the story came to TV in a half-hour animated special produced by legendary Warner Bros. director, Chuck Jones. Responsible for some of the best Bug Bunny cartoons ever produced, Jones was no stranger to the works of Theodor Geisel, AKA Dr. Seuss, having directed another Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas a few years earlier.
I recall watching the special when I was a kid but had nearly forgotten about it until Warner Bros. released the special on a brand new deluxe DVD that also features several other cartoon shorts based on Dr. Seuss' books. Horton is a friendly, imaginative elephant that is the only one who can hear the voices coming from a spec of dust, the tiny world of the Whos. Berated and made fun of by other inhabitants of the jungle, the courageous Horton protects the spec of dust with his own life, proclaiming, "A person is a person, no matter how small." While Horton is a fantastic children's fable it also offers a strong morale message of standing up for what you believe in, no matter what peer pressure you are under. I only hope the message is not lost in the big screen version. If nothing else, the film has made it possible that the original animated tale has been released on DVD, completely remastered and looking better than ever. The colors are bold and bright and it brought back great memories, as it has not been shown on TV in decades. The wonderful cast included Hans Conreid as Horton as well as the narrator; June Foray (best known as the voice of Rocky the Squirrel) as Jane Kangaroo and Cindy Lou Who; and Thurl Ravenscroft who was the voice of Tony the Tiger and sung the immortal Grinch song.
It would be great if just this story had been released on DVD but thankfully, the DVD packs in several other features.
Horton Hatches the Egg is a Merrie Melodies animated short produced by Warner Bros. in 1942. it is adapted from the Dr. Seuss book of the same name and introduces Horton, the friendly elephant who sits on the eggs of a lazy bird named Mayzie so she can go on vacation.
Dr, Seuss' Butter Battle Book was produced as a TNT Network special in 1989. This tale of absurdity to the extreme was directed by Ralph Bakshi, known more for his adult-themed underground animated films like Fritz the Cat and Heavy Traffic, than for children's animation. The story is about two different races, the Yooks and the Zooks, who have a dispute on which side of their bread to butter. This is Seuss at his eccentric best.
Daisy Head Mayzie was another TNT Network special featuring the Cat-in-the-Hat narrating the story of a little girl named Mayzie who grows a daisy out of the top of her head. This one is only average and suffers from weak animation.
Finally, In Search of Dr. Seuss, is a 90 minute movie/documentary produced in 1994. Kathy Najimy plays a reporter who comes to the home of Dr. Seuss to learn all she can about him. Through a series of sketches where she meets various characters, she finds out surprising facts about the author. The film co-stars numerous stars including Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Christopher Lloyd, and Patrick Stewart. While it would have been nice to have a more up-to-date and academic look at Seuss' works, this silly film is strangely appropriate.
The DVD is a must-have for Dr. Seuss fans.