(For the previous two Peanuts films, check out A Boy Named Charlie Brown & Snoopy, Come Home)
Phil Roman is an animator, producer, and director who got his start working for Disney on the film Sleeping Beauty. He then went to work for Chuck Jones’ independent studio Sib Tower 12 Productions (which was renamed MGM Animation/Visual Arts in 1964). He worked on a number of Tom and Jerry animated theatrical shorts, and was the lead animator for the 1966 TV special Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas. After MGM shut down the studio in 1970, Chuck Jones started Chuck Jones Productions and brought over the entire staff, including Roman, to work for him. Eventually, he went to work at Bill Melendez Productions, where he directed a number of Peanuts TV specials, and would get the opportunity to co-direct two Peanuts feature films. For this installment of Animation Corner, I’ll be looking back at Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown and Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back!!).
Co-directed by Roman and Bill Melendez, 1977’s Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown centers on Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang as they attend a summer camp, contend with a group of bullies, and face off against them in a river-raft race. Featuring the voices of Duncan Watson, Bill Melendez, Stuart Brotman, Jimmy Ahrens, Gail M. Davis, Melanie Kohn, Liam Martin, and Greg Fulton, this critically acclaimed film grossed $3.2 million domestically. Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, who also wrote the screenplay, took the film’s staff river rafting in the Rogue Rivers in Oregon as research for the film. Vince Guaraldi was considered being brought back to write the music for the film, but he died production began (Ed Bogas would end up providing the film’s music). This film also marked the first appearance of Marcie in a Peanuts feature film.
Co-directed by Roman and Bill Melendez, 1980’s Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back!!) centers on Charlie Brown and his friends as they travel to Europe as exchange students and try to find out the truth behind a letter Charlie Brown received from a red-haired girl in France. Featuring the voices of Arrin Skelley, Daniel Anderson, Patricia Patts, Casey Carlson, Annalisa Bortolin, Laura Planting, Bill Melendez, Pascale De Barolet, and Roseline Rubens, this critically acclaimed film grossed $2 million domestically. This would be the first Peanuts film in which adult characters had actual speaking parts rather than the trombone sound being used. The château that Charlie Brown, Linus, and Snoopy stay at in the film was based on a real château that creator/screenwriter Charles M. Schulz stayed at for six weeks during World War II (this would also mark the last Peanuts film Schulz would be involved with). Ed Bogas returned to write the film’s music with Judy Munsen.