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A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas was the first prime time animated Christmas special based on the famous Peanuts cartoon strip by Charles M Schulz. It was produced by Warner Bros, and was an instant success primarily because the peanuts cartoon strip was already very popular and that generated a lot of popular support for the movie. That is not to say that the movie wasnít well made. For its time, it was the finest animation movie and is still looked upon as one of the best Christmas movies.
A Charlie Brown Christmas Plot
A Charlie Brown Christmas features Charlie Brown's quest to find some meaning in the Christmas holiday. The movie starts with him seeking to understand why he always ends up depressed around the holidays. On the advice of Lucy, he gets involved in directing a school play about the Nativity. When he loses control of the production, he is given the lesser responsibility of finding a Christmas tree for the play. Instead of buying a "big, shiny, aluminum" artificial tree as he was instructed to do, he chooses a pitiful little twig. This makes him the target of laughter and derision. He screams out in abject desperation, wondering what Christmas is all about.

Linus answers him by reciting the story of the birth of Jesus. Meanwhile, Snoopy has decorated his doghouse with colorful flashing lights and other baubles, and won 1st Prize in a decorating contest. Charlie Brown takes the decorations, and puts a bulb on his tree, which promptly collapses under the weight. He flees in despair. Having heard Linus's explanation, the other kids realize they've been too hard on Charlie Brown, and fix his tree up into a brilliant Christmas display, using the rest of Snoopy's decorations. Charlie Brown returns to find the whole gang gathered around his tree. In a rare moment of happiness, he joins the crew in singing the Christmas carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing", as the closing credits roll.

Making Of A Charlie Brown Christmas
It was quiet a task for the peanuts creators to convince CBS to turn this popular cartoon strip into a television special. The production was done on a shoestring budget, resulting in a somewhat choppy animation style and, from a technical standpoint, poorly mixed sound. With the exception of the actors who voiced Charlie and Lucy, Peter Robbins and Tracy Stratford, respectively, none of the children had any experience doing voice work. This was especially challenging for Kathy Steinberg, who voiced Sally, who was too young to read and needed to be cued line by line during the soundtrack recording. The technical issues are in evidence on the show's audio track, which at times is noticeably choppy and poorly enunciated.


Another complaint was the absence of a laugh track, a common element of children's cartoons at the time. Schulz maintained that the audience should be able to enjoy the show at their own pace, without being cued when to laugh. CBS did create a version of the show with the laugh track added, just in case Schulz changed his mind. This version remains unavailable. A third complaint was the use of children to do the voice work, instead of employing adult actors.

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