The Hobbit (1977)

Our (50th!) review of the made-for-TV animated feature, based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s best-selling children’s fantasy of the same name. Played over Thanksgiving, 1977, in accordance with a tradition its animators worked out with a TV network, it was eventually released on video, and went on to create its own generation of Tolkien fans.

10 thoughts on “The Hobbit (1977)”

  1. I adored the original 1977 Hobbit film and am annoyed I can’t get my wife to watch it. It got me into J.R.R Tolkien and was one of my favorite fantasy movies from childhood up until adulthood where it still holds a special place in my heart. The thing is, while I’m sure the current movie is awesome, the fact is that I believe the 1977 Hobbit managed to capture everything relevant from the books. It’s also a great deal more “fun” than the Lord of the Rings (I know, blasphemy).

    Sadly, the adaptation of the Lord of the Rings which followed WASN’T up to the same level of quality.

    BTW – on an unrelated note, could you do “The Cabin in the Woods?”

    1. Man, you guys keep giving me ideas. Better watch out, or there’ll come a day when I write a long, pedantic diatribe about “fun” and its usage by the Internet’s Cultural Criticism Community. But not today. Today, I walk in the sun. Besides, there’s that other Hobbit to review first, plus all the other 2012 releases I didn’t get to, and the Oscar races are already on and, oh my, now I’ve gone cross-eyed….

      But seriously, Charles? On your unrelated note? The answer’s “Yes.”

  2. Thanks, I appreciate you doing this site. I love review sites in general but especially ones that run to my interests (SHOCK OF SHOCKS). This definitely has numerous areas where it overlaps with my own, especially on horror and comic book movies AND James Bond.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Sir,
    The Hobbit was the first book I ever bought(3rd grade book fair-I also purchased Glinda Of Oz, the last of the Baum OZ books, meaning the last that mattered),and I consider(ed) it my first stab at emancipation from parental tyranny. I could choose where I wanted to be, and with whom, and my parents’ insults,put-downs,and physical abuse grew more muffled-they couldn’t(and wouldn’t if they could’ve) follow. I subsequently acquired the L.P. of this version,and it was wonderful to hear the story brought to life (I also had King Kong-these were ’70’s versions of books-on-tape,I suppose,and what I wouldn’t give to have ’em now). However, I didn’t actually SEE it ’til I bought the d.v.d. a few years ago. I was surprised that the tones,colours,and energy
    were faithful to the book,much more so than Bashki’s take on Tolkien(ugh).

    If I had children,this would seem a worthy introduction to fantasy-a gateway drug of sorts. I’ve been waiting for a live-action version since the book purchase(35 years!). Perhaps to feel the emancipation come full circle? To see my internalized childhood become spectacle? Could be. Anyway,I will probably love Jackson’s interpretation,considering I wept unashamedly during Felowship. When a complete stranger is able to take what’s been in my head and splash it across a moving canvas,unearthing joys and wounds thought forgotten, well, I dare to call that Art-it matters not that it’s a 90 minute kids flick,nor a bazillion dollar extravaganza…..

  4. I only have some random thoughts instead of well thought out paragraphs in my head, so if you don’t mind, I’ll just list them:

    1. Just watched the ’77 Hobbit for the first time on dailymotion. I now want the DVD and/or Blu-Ray. Thank you for reminding me it existed and that it oddly worked despite its shortcomings.

    2. I have the exact same $9.00 paperback of The Hobbit sitting right next to me. Still haven’t read the full thing, I just keep getting distracted by the PS3 I now have since Christmas came and went like a happy dream.

    3. Gonna be honest, I trust Peter Jackson to at least make the 3 movie expansion into good films.

    And that’s all the strange ramblings my mind has right now. Great review as always and have a Happy New Year.

  5. I saw the first PJ Hobbit film on XMas Eve…it wasn’t as good as this one. Just like King Kong, Jackson managed to make The Hobbit boring.

    1. Well, Riz, you know I love ya, but I can’t board this train with you. I’m putting the finishing touches on my Unexpected Journey review as I type, but I’ll just use this space to remind everyone I liked Jacksonian Kong significantly more than either of its predecessors. The guy basically made that movie for me and mine – giant monster fans abandoned by our usual caterers, Toho and Daiei. As I told my best friends boy toy on the way to the midnight show, “How do you top a giant gorilla fighting a T-rex? By having him fight three. While falling off a cliff. And saving his girl. Who’s not just some dumb blond – no – she’s a vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate.” His Hobbit seems to flows from the same spirit, and I’m constitutionally incapable of being bored by that, or anything like it…unless it’s made by complete incompetents, which Jackson and Co. are most definitely not.

      1. Yeah he has Kong fight 3 t-rexes, or shoehorns in a fight or 3 that never happened into the beginning part of The Hobbit, but the problem with those things is that there is no dramatic tension. We’ve seen King Kong before, so we know that he’s going to win the fight against 1, 3 or 1000 t-rexes because he’s not in NYC yet. We know the dwarves and Bilbo will get away just fine, even with the needless addition of yet another bad guy tracking them down. It ends up feeling padded, in my opinion.

        Then again, I’m weird and cynical about people money grubbing things I like a lot, like Tolkien. Guess after LotR and The Dark is Rising I should be used to it, but it always makes me angry nonetheless. PJ’s still not getting any more of my money unless I hear one of the next two movies has an extended sequence with Morgoth vs. Fingolfin or the story of Turin or something…

        1. I’d love to see either of those things, too, so we’re well met, there. I would also accept The Lay of Beren and LĂșthien purely for the chance to giggle as a whole profession’s worth of critics attempt to say the title with a straight face.

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