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Charlotte's Web is a 1973 American animated musical film produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and Sagittarius Productions and based upon the 1952 children's book of the same name by E.B. White. The film, like the book, is about a pig named Wilbur who befriends a spider named Charlotte who saves him from being slaughtered and was distributed to theatres by Paramount Pictures on March 1, 1973. It is the first of only three Hanna-Barbera features not based upon one of their famous television cartoons — Heidi's Song (1982) and Once Upon a Forest (1993) being the other two — and was a moderate critical and commercial success.

The song score of lyrics and music was written by the Sherman Brothers, who had previously written music for family films like Mary Poppins (1964), The Jungle Book (1967), and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968).

The film has found a devoted following over the years due to television and VHS; in 1994 it surprised the marketplace by becoming one of the best-selling titles of the year, 21 years after its first premiere. No other non-Disney musical animated film has enjoyed such a remarkable comeback in popularity, prompting a sequel, Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure, which Paramount released in the US on March 18, 2003 (Universal released the film internationally), followed by a live-action film version of the original story, which was released on December 15, 2006.

Plot

Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

A litter of pigs are born to the Arable farm. One is a runt so John Arable decides to "do away with it". However, when his daughter, Fern, hears of the pig's fate, she rescues him and tells her dad that it is absurd to kill it just because it is smaller than the others. She gets to raise him and names him Wilbur. However, after only six weeks of raising him, John tells Fern that it is time for him to be sold (his siblings were already sold). She sadly says good-bye as Wilbur is sold down the street to her uncle, Homer Zuckerman. When Wilbur wants to play with a lamb, his father (known as a ram) says that sheep do not play with pigs because it is only a matter of time before they are turned into smoked bacon and ham. Wilbur starts crying, saying that he does not want to die, but a voice from above tells him to chin up. The next morning, she sings a song about chinning up, and reveals herself to be a spider named Charlotte. She saves him by writing messages in her web, hence the title. She eventually dies, and although 511 of her children leave the barn (she had 514), three of them, whom Wilbur names Joy, Aranea and Nellie, stay. But as much as Wilbur loves them, they will never replace her memory.

Voice cast

  • Debbie Reynolds as Charlotte
  • Henry Gibson as Wilbur
  • Paul Lynde as Templeton
  • Rex Allen as the Narrator
  • Herb Vigran as Lurvy
  • Don Messick as Jeffrey
  • Martha Scott as Mrs. Arable
  • Bob Holt as Homer Zuckerman
  • Pamelyn Ferdin as Fern Arable
  • John Stephenson as John Arable
  • William B. White as Henry Fussy
  • Agnes Moorehead as the Goose
  • Danny Bonaduce as Avery Arable
  • Dave Madden as the Ram and others
  • Joan Gerber as Edith Zuckerman and Mrs. Fussy
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