One year in the Special Education preschool class the teacher would give videos for children to watch at home. One of the videos placed in his backpack for us to view as a family was the Peanuts Classic, Itís The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Matthew at first showed interest in the movie, but Nicholas was never enthused by the series. For some reason neither of my two autistic children have ever showed an interest in any of the Charlie Brown television specials that I have taped in the past on CBS.
We viewed the thirty minute video of Itís The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown three times before returning it to the classroom. I grew up with a handicapped sister that still has a snoopy collection and this was one of the shows we watched every year as this dates back to 1966!
This Paramount video begins with a preview for all the videos in the Best of Peanuts Collection consisting of ones for New Yearís Eve, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The ever familiar piano playing is in the background as the movie begins with Lucy and her brother Linus walking along kicking up leaves until they enter the pumpkin patch to grab a pumpkin. Lucy picks the biggest one with Linus struggling to get this around the fence, down the street and up the stairs into the house. Lucy lays down some paper for the spot the pumpkin rests and immediately starts to carve it open.
Linus is quite upset once she starts tossing out the insides of the pumpkin, whining that she killed it. There are spooky figures in white sheets parading around the pumpkin patch as the movie title appears on the screen. Itís The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown starts with Charlie Brown raking a pile of leaves while his beagle dog, Snoopy is chasing lone leaves to get back into the pile. Along comes Linus licking a lollipop and trips into the pile that leaves his face and hands sticky from the leaves and lollipop. After this happens we see Charlie Brown shake his fists at Linus for wrecking his pile of leaves.
Lucy shows up with a football coaxing Charlie Brown to kick it but he announces to her that she must think he is stupid to fall for that trick again this time. Oh Come on Charlie Brown says Lucy as she provides a signed document stating she will not pull the football away. Of course she does and then has the answer that the signed document was not valid since it was never notarized! At this time Linus is preparing his letter to the Great Pumpkin who rises out of the pumpkin patch delivering toys to all the boys and girls. Charlie Brown asks him when he will stop believing in the Great Pumpkin to which Linus replies when you stop believing about the man in the red suit who says Ho Ho Ho. One of them mentions something about being separated by denominal differences. Lucy is upset at having the laughing stock of the neighborhood as her brother.
Linus explains that there are three things to never discuss with people, religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin. We see that Sally, Charlie Brownís little sister has a crush on Linus and he blushes when she is around. Once the letter is done Linus goes out to the mailbox with Lucy following and refusing to open the mailbox for her brother. He uses his blanket as a rope to open the mailbox handle and drop off his letter to the Great Pumpkin.
Charlie Brown arrives waving an envelope he received in the mail showing Lucy he was invited to a Halloween party. Lucy taunts him by saying that there were two lists for this party with one being who is not invited and they must of made a mistake with the lists and sent his invite by mistake. The gang gets their white sheets out and cut holes for their eyes and don hats on their heads. Charlie Brown gets confused with the holes and has none for opening his eyes. As they head out the door the background music is that of the drums beating.
Meanwhile Linus is waiting with a sign for the Great Pumpkin to welcome his arrival to the pumpkin patch. Lucy informs the gang that it is customary to choose a costume that is the direct contrast to your personality. She says she is tired of Linus making a fool of himself yearly on Halloween. At the last minute Sally turns back to spend the night with Linus waiting. Linus wants to sing pumpkin carols with Sally.
Sally was mad that the Great Pumpkin was not showing up yet so Linus told her all girls were supposed to believe what they were told and they were innocent and trusting. Sally had told Linus that if he tried to hold her hand she would slug him. Lucy told the others as they were trick or treating how embarrassing it was every year to ask for more candy for her brother, the blockhead.
As they meet on the street after trick or treating at each house they all open their bags announcing what is inside, like candy and cookies but each time it is the same thing for Charlie Brown, a rock. Someone asks where is his dog so Charlie Brown says he is on a mission to find the Red Baron and shoot him down. The antics of Snoopy are quite comical with him ducking for cover while getting ambushed and riding on top of his little house and changing color from white to blue. The sounds are very realistic as well.
The gang stops by the pumpkin patch on the way to the Halloween party and laugh at Linus and Sally still waiting for the Great Pumpkin. Linusís face gets red and he sweats out the jokes of the others. Once at the party Lucy wants to decorate the face on the jack-o-lantern and they use the back of Charlie Brownís head as the model. Meanwhile we see more of Snoopy antics going across France and then the gang bopping for apples telling Lucy she will be good at that since she has the perfect mouth for it. Then there is the scene with Snoopy hanging at the piano and I cannot recall the name of the character playing that either, they do not mention it in the video or in the credits. Snoopy plays out the drama as the music changes tempo from crying to laughing and finally he has had enough and walks out the door and crawls around the bushes.
Of course Linus hears this rustling of the bushes and assumes this is the Great Pumpkin and faints as Snoopy appears with Sally crying that she wasted the whole night missing out on candy, cookies and money and all that came was a beagle. Sally shakes Linusís shirt and roughs him up when Charlie Brown comes for his sister to take her home.
The next morning Lucy wakes up and walks to her brother Linusís room to see his bed is still made and walks outside to the pumpkin patch to find a shivering Linus with his small blanket covering him and she brings him to bed and covers him up. Later Charlie Brown and Linus reflect on another year of no Great Pumpkin and a bag of rocks for trick or treating. Charlie Brown tells Linus not to worry because he has done a lot of stupid things in his life too.
It had been a few years since I had taped this from a CBS special and prior to that not since my childhood. I found it sad that most of the characters used names to call each other such as stupid and blockhead, plus they were shoving their fists in faces too and laughing at each other. In a way I am glad that my children have not shown great interest in this series even though it is a classic from long ago. I could not shake that feeling while watching Itís The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown of the name calling that was shown in a twenty-five minute video.
Written and directed by the late Charles Schulz, the voices behind the main characters are as follows, (Charlie Brown) Peter Robbins, (Lucy) Sally Dryer, (Linus) Chris Shea and (Sally) Cathy Steinberg. I was a bit surprised to see this video from the teacher and will have to ask if this was also shown in the classroom and inform her that neither of my kids want to watch this one. It would be interesting to know how other autistic kids view Itís The great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown to get an idea if my kids fall into similar viewing habits.
Previously published on Epinions. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is available at Amazon.
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