Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure is a 1977 American live action/animated musical fantasy film directed by Richard Williams, produced by the Bobbs-Merrill Company, a publishing arm of ITT, and released theatrically by 20th Century Fox. A 1941 short film had previously featured the Raggedy Ann and Andy characters created by Johnny Gruelle.
Plot[edit | edit source]
Raggedy Ann is the beloved doll of Marcella, along with her brother Raggedy Andy and a whole nursery full of colorful toys. Whenever Marcella leaves the room, the dolls come to life. On Marcella's seventh birthday, a new doll named Babette, arrives from Paris, France to New Hampshire. Babette is a spoiled girl who is unaware she is a doll, but the friendly Raggedy Ann does everything she can to make Babette feel at home. Soon, however, the Captain Contagious, who lives in Marcella's snow globe, becomes smitten with Babette and kidnaps her. Raggedy Ann and Andy set off to try to rescue her before Marcella discovers Babette is gone. Out in the world outside the nursery, the two meet the Camel with the Wrinkled Knees, a blue toy camel who has been cast off by past owners and is now heartbroken and lonely. Raggedy Ann assures him a home with Marcella, and he joins their rescue party.
After Raggedy Ann and Andy hitch a ride on the Camel, he begins to follow hallucinations of a parade of camels ascending to heaven. While he's distracted, he runs over the edge of a cliff into a deep pit. In this pit they encounter the Greedy, a gluttonous, blob-like monster presumably made of taffy, who constantly gorges himself on all manner of confections yet is never full. While singing about the plight of never being happy despite his unending consumption, he reveals that the only thing that could satisfy him is a Sweetheart (a Valentine's Day candy) which had been sewn inside Raggedy Ann's chest as her own heart. The Raggedys and the Camel narrowly escape being consumed by the Greedy and continue their journey to find Babette.
While travelling through the woods, they encounter Sir Leonard Looney, a purple knight with a penchant for humiliating gags. He kidnaps the trio to Looney Land, where all the practical gags are. They are then introduced to the court of King Koo Koo, a near microscopic king who has a part of him expand every time he laughs at someone else. He finds that the trio that has been brought to him do a good job of making him expand overall when they are subjected to Sir Looney's gags. Before the King can find a better use for them, the Raggedys and the Camel escape, leaving King Koo Koo to shrink back down to his regular size. King Koo Koo then decides that the Raggedys will be just what he needs to accomplish what he has been waiting for his entire life - his "Last Laugh." He calls up his cohort Gazooks, a giant, green, inner tube-like sea creature with a massive array of arms and discusses his plans.
Meanwhile, the Raggedys and the Camel have found a ship, and are getting away from Looney Land posthaste. Using a telescope aboard the bizarre little ship, they are able to spot the Captain's pirate vessel, and are able to zoom in toward the ship and haul themselves on board. When Babette is finally found, the Raggedys discover that she is no longer in need of rescue. She has in fact charmed the pirate crew, raised a mutiny against Captain Contagious, and has assumed command of the ship, in the ultimate hope of sailing back to Paris. Just then, Koo Koo, with assistance from Gazooks, arrives on the scene, and captures all except Raggedy Ann, Babette and Queasy, the Captain's faithful parrot, who decides that the King should "blow - up!".
King Koo Koo, who had been eavesdropping on Raggedy Ann and Babette, has them quickly subjected to the same tickle-torture, while Queasy rockets towards the massive balloon that King Koo Koo has become. King Koo Koo, who now dominates the horizon, celebrates his enormous size and finally getting the last laugh knowing that Queasy will make him explode, thus blowing everyone up with him. Queasy flies into King Koo Koo beak-first, like a pin into a balloon, causing him to explode, to the King's delirious joy.
The massive detonation of King Koo Koo causes an intense burst of light before the Raggedys and the Camel are seen spinning around in a wormhole before the screen goes dark. They are then discovered the next day, along with Babette, the Captain, the only survivors of King Koo Koo's explosion, in a small pond outside. Marcella brings her toys back in, missing the Camel in a pile of leaves. Later that evening, after a humbled Babette apologizes to Raggedy Ann for her earlier behavior and begins a relationship with Captain Contagious, the Camel crawls up to the window, where Raggedy Ann and her friends let him in, and he realizes he has finally found home. Marcella finds the Camel among her dear toy friends, and while she is at first puzzled by his appearance in her room, she embraces him and accepts him as her own.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Didi Conn as Raggedy Ann
- Mark Baker as Raggedy Andy
- Fred Stuthman as The Camel with the Wrinkled Knees
- Niki Flacks as Babette
- George S. Irving as The Captain
- Arnold Stang as Queasy
- Joe SIlver as The Greedy
- Alan Sues as The Loonie Knight
- Marty Brill as King Koo Koo
- Paul Dooley as Gazooks
- Mason Adams as Grandpa
- Allen Swift as Maxi-Fixit
- Hetty Galen as Susie Pincushion
- Sheldon Harnick as Barney Beanbag and Socko
- Ardyth Kaiser as Topsy
- Margery Gray and Lynne Stuart as The Twin Pennies
- Joe Raposo as Joe the Bus Driver (uncredited)
- Claire Williams as Marcella
Production[edit | edit source]
Originally Abe Levitow was to direct the film and Williams was only an animation supervisor. However, when Levitow became ill and eventually died, Williams reluctantly became director. He clashed with the producers over many aspects of the film, including the multitude of musical numbers and weak character development. Despite his misgivings the producers forbade him to cut a single scene. Eventually, like many of his other projects, the movie went over time and budget, and Williams was removed at the end so the film could be released on time. His name remained on the finished product. Besides Richard Williams, who by this time had already received a BAFTA award, an Emmy Award, and an Oscar for his work in animation, other talented animators also were enlisted. Hal Ambro and Art Babbitt from Disney, and Looney Tunes animator Gerry Chiniquy also worked on the film. Animators worked from home; there wasn't a central studio like most animated feature films. The music was composed by Joe Raposo, the longtime musical director of Sesame Street and The Electric Company.
Tissa David became one of the first women to animate a leading character in a major film when she designed and animated Raggedy Ann for the project. In a 1977 interview, David told the New York Times that she designed the Raggedy Ann character as "a plain Jane with a heart of candy — and she's all female.
Drawings from this film were used to test "videoCel", an early yet innovative CGI system developed by Computer Creations Corp.
Reception[edit | edit source]
Despite this considerable amount of talent, Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure received mixed reviews. Many critics found the movie hard to watch, complaining that the plot moved too slowly, had little focus, and was burdened by too many musical numbers. Many of the characters were considered too disturbing for children, but the settings and rest of the film's concepts was praised. There is also some adult humor and subtext, mainly in Captain Contagious whose moustache grows erect and who performs pelvic thrusts when he first sees the character of Babette. Raggedy Ann and Andy have very little character development; they move from place to place meeting strange characters, but the focus is always on the new character, and they serve little purpose other than to move the plot forward. "[In this] attractive fully animated cartoon feature," wrote the staff of Halliwell's Film Guide, "[...] only the central story is lacking in pace and humor."
Release[edit | edit source]
After its short initial box office run, the film saw little to no distribution with the exception of airing one night in 1979 on CBS and later a release on the long defunct RCA CED Videodisc system in the early 1980s by CBS Video as well as on VHS. It did receive a considerable amount of play on the Disney Channel during the late 1980s and early 1990s, as well as on the Nickelodeon show Special Delivery
"Blue" was featured on a season 3 episode of The Muppet Show with Helen Reddy and the song sequence from the film was also featured on an episode of The Big Blue Marble and the special, Sing! Sesame Street Remembers the Music of Joe Raposo. The song "I'm Home" was also featured on an episode of Shining Time Station in which Conn co-starred later in her career. Nevertheless, the film has not been shown on television for many years. It was released on video by CBS/Fox Video (through their Playhouse Video imprint) in the late 1980s.
Currently, CBS Corporation owns the rights to the film via its Simon & Schuster subsidiary, who owns the rights to the Raggedy Ann and Andy characters.
Stage Show[edit | edit source]
The film has been adapted for the stage twice.
In 1981, screenwriter Patricia Thackray reworked the story for Raggedy Ann & Andy, a play which is available to license for performances at schools and community theatres. There are many deviations in this version, most notably there are only two sets and Prince Leonard-the-Looney-Hearted (known as Sir Leonard Looney in the film) replaces The Captain.
In 1984, songwriter Joe Raposo and playwright William Gibson crafted a much darker variation of the story, first called Raggedy Ann and then briefly retitled Rag Dolly. Raposo retained two songs from the film (Rag Dolly and Blue) and reworked the opening title theme into a song called Gingham and Yarn. The plot was completely different and follows the dying young Marcella, who goes on a journey with Raggedy Ann and her friends to meet the Doll Doctor, who can mend her broken heart. This version ran in three theatres (including one in Moscow) before landing with a thud on Broadway in 1986.