Thursday, July 16, 2009

I Before E Except After C

Charlie Brown holds a unique spot in pop culture. Like Mickey Mouse, everyone on the planet knows who he is. Back in the day, it was one of the highlights of any holiday to make sure you were home and watching when the Charlie Brown special for that season was on. Back then, there were no VCRS or DVDS or DVRS. There was just the television and if you missed the special that year, you had to wait a whole year to get your chance to see it again. In addition to the holiday specials, the Peanuts gang branched out into films with the 1969 film, "A Boy Named Charlie Brown". It was the first of what would become many feature films starring Charlie Brown and the gang. It is of course the story of our anti-hero. Charlie Brown and his many attempts at being appreciated. He actually gets it when he wins the local spelling bee and heads to the national finals. Of course, at the finals he loses all that he has gained when he misspells the one word that he above all others should know: beagle. And thus, the cycle begins anew. What was so great about all of the Peanuts specials and films that were done in the 60s and 70s was the amazing musical score by Vince Guaraldi. The music consisted mostly of uptempo jazz tunes that had been heard since some of the earliest Peanuts television specials aired back in 1965; however, for A Boy Named Charlie Brown, they were given a more "theatrical" treatment, with lusher horn-filled arrangements. Guaraldi was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score for his work on A Boy Named Charlie Brown. The film also included several songs sung by the cast: Failure Face (sung by Lucy and the other girls to discourage Charlie Brown from entering the spelling bee), I Before E Except After C (sung by Charlie Brown and Linus while studying for the spelling bee), and Champion Charlie Brown (sung by the entire cast after Charlie wins the school spelling bee). This was a first as all of the music with exception of the traditional Christmas carols sung in the first special was instrumental. Rod McKuen wrote and sang the title song. He also wrote Failure Face and Champion Charlie Brown. The film also features a Jew's harp, which Snoopy plays to help Charlie with his spelling. For many, it was their first and probably only time they would ever see that instrument and the film has become so associated with the Jews Harp that Snoopy appears on the box for the instrument which is sometimes referred to as "Snoopy's Harp". Here for you now is that incredible soundtrack album featuring Vince Guaraldi. Another great thing about this abum is that it plays more like a story record as it features dialogue from the film interspersed with the music. Here is "A Boy Named Charlie Brown". Enjoy!

A Boy Named Charlie Brown OST

Interesting Side Note: A Boy Named Charlie Brown features the instantly recognizable voice of Peter Robbins as Charlie Brown. The film marked the last time he would voice the character.

Classic TV Episode of The Month: McHale's Navy

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