Episode 86: The Phantom Tollbooth (1970)

Hello again to our listeners, both young and young at heart! Things in the real world are a tad . . . dramatic these days, so who among us isn’t fantasizing about hopping into a toy car, driving through a simulated highway fee collection station and traveling through a land of obvious puns, all animated by Chuck Jones?  . . . No one? Just me? Well, fine. I don’t care.  You’re all a bunch of dopey-heads. Because this week in our “When We Wuz Kids,” we’re taking a look back at an animated and (a little) live action adaptation of the beloved children’s book “The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Pfeiffer (although you wouldn’t know that last bit if you watch this movie).  This is also one of the VERY few non-Bugs Bunny pieces directed by legendary animator Chuck Jones.  And it stars Butch Patrick! Man, how did they ever get Butch Patrick for this? Can you believe it? Butch Patrick!! Ok, for those (all) of you scratching your chins (stop that! No face-touching!) and wondering where you’ve heard that name, he was Eddie Munster on “The Munsters” and, perhaps more infamously, the main character in the Sid and Marty Kroft drug-trip of a Saturday morning show “Liddsville,” a show about sentient hats.  No, that’s not a typo.  Anyway, we’ve also got some voice acting royalty in this one: Mel Blanc! Daws Butler! June Foray! Hans Conreid! So, should you check out this movie or just read the book? Give a listen and find out for yourself! Insert linguistic or numerical pun here!

6 thoughts on “Episode 86: The Phantom Tollbooth (1970)”

  1. I saw this in the theatre as well, at the Everett park theatre. We must have all gone those two weeks it was shown over the weekend somehow. I can’t saw I remember much about it at all. I never read the book but I had heard about it. Don’t be dissing Lidsville with Charles Nelson Riley in his greatest role!

  2. I’m commenting here instead of emailing because you didn’t say the email address in the episode, it’s nowhere on the site, and I ain’t searching for it. So there. Yes, Mike, I did read The Phantom Tollbooth when I was a kid. I’ve actually read it several times since then, even fairly recently, because it’s a great book. It makes WAY more sense as an adult because it’s full of social commentary and double entendres. I think I saw the movie years and years ago but I don’t remember for sure.

    (And thanks for sticking up for me, Max. You’re way nicer than my poopy pants stupid head brother.)

      1. You know, the latest Mario game features sentient hats as the main game mechanic. Maybe the designers were big fans of Lidsville back in the day??? It’s disappointing that this movie was a bad as it was.

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