The Phantom Tollbooth

In this series of 100 blogposts about films you must see I’ve written about comedy movies, dramatic films, horror films, action films and even the odd piece of art film. I’ve written about films from the UK, Europe and America.

In trying to avoid the obvious, and moving into the last ten films I’m scratching my head about the final run of films I want to discuss. I’ll try and keep the list as eclectic as it has hopefully been so far, but in looking at what I’d written about already I realised I’d missed a couple of areas. I didn’t have a film for children, and I don’t have much animation on the list so far. So, in this blogpost I’ll try and kill two birds with one stone.

The Phantom Tollbooth from 1970 was a film that had a massive impact on me as a very small child. Part live action, part animation this film literally set fire to my mind. More than any Disney animation, and more than any live action picture the Phantom Tollbooth was watched avidly by me from 7 years old up until the age of about 10.

This film was written and directed by the late great Chuck Jones with help from other people. It was made in the late 60s and is based on the book by Norton Juster. This is a great, very clever and very trippy film.

It stars Butch Patrick who adults of a certain age will fondly remember as Eddie Munster from the Munster’s TV series. It also features the voice of the brilliant Mel Blanc.

I can’t tell you how obsessed I was with this film as a child, and sadly frequent searches to buy a copy on DVD or any other format have been fruitless in the UK (although versions are available across the Atlantic). I may not have ended up a script writer without the impact of this film – that’s how big it is for me!

The film is surprising intellectual for a kids’ movie and it sets out to teach as well as entertain, some people don’t like the songs in the movie and feel they slow it down. I don’t remember having this impression as a kid.

See this film if you can, and show it to your young…

So, 11 films to go…

Matthew Cooper has written for most of the UK soaps, including writing episodes of Emmerdale, Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs. Matthew was winner of the Lloyds Bank Channel Four Film Challenge, the Oscar Moore Screenplay Prize and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated. His award winning short film ‘Family Style’ starred Ewan McGregor and was picked up by Channel Four in 1994. He’s been a script consultantscript writer for hire for over 20 years. You can find a partial list of his broadcast credits on the IMDb.