The Hobbit (1977)

the hobbit 2

“I am Mr. Bilbo Baggins. I’ve lost my dwarves, my wizard and my way.”

The Scoop: 1977 NR, directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr., and starring Orson Bean, John Huston, Hans Conreid, Brother Theodore, Otto Preminger, Cyril Richard, Richard Boone and Glenn Yarbrough.

Tagline: None I can find.

Summary Capsule: What has it got in its pocketses?


Deneb’s rating: 3 ½ magic rings out of five.

Deneb’s review: By now most of the world is aware, I’m sure, of the fresh embarking of Peter Jackson and company on yet another entry from the merry old world of Middle-Earth – The Hobbit, parts one two and three. I may or may not review them as they come out on DVD; I’m not sure – the first has already gotten some good goings-over – but in the meantime, I thought the time was ripe to take another look at a previous adaptation. An animated one, this time, from the far-off days known as ‘the ‘70’s’, and, up ‘til now, probably the one that most people know best, if they know any at all.

The story, as most of you are likely aware, goes like this – back in days of yore, one Bilbo Baggins (Orson Bean) is living a quiet life of comfortable prosperity. Bilbo is a hobbit, which means he’s a short li’l guy with hairy feet who lives in a hole in the ground. It’s a pretty nice, homey little place, and he’d be perfectly happy just pottering around in his kitchen and tending the garden – if, that is, it weren’t for the intervention of fate.

‘Fate’, in this case, comes in the person of Gandalf (John Huston). Gandalf is a wizard, a mysterious fellow who is well-known for… well, being a mysterious fellow, and he’s brought company, all dwarves. Let me introduce you – there’s Balin, Dwalin, Fili, Kili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur (he’s the fat one), and Thorin Oakenshield (Hans Conreid). Guess which one of these guys is important to the plot. (No, it’s not Bombur.)

Naturally, everyone stays for dinner, and afterwards Thorin has a tale to tell. It seems that he and his followers are the last remaining dwarves who used to inhabit Lonely Mountain, once a prosperous dwarven stronghold – as it turned out, too prosperous, as it attracted the attention of one Smaug (Richard Boone), a member of the genus Draconis, well-known for their love of treasure. He blasted the Lonely Mountain-ites out of their home, and took up residence himself.

Needless to say, Thorin and his crew are none too wild about the notion of a dirty great dragon lounging around in their mountain on a great big heap of their treasure, so they’ve decided the time has come to reclaim their property – and that’s where Bilbo comes in. See, thirteen, even back then, was an unlucky number, and Gandalf has recommended the hobbit as a fourteenth member of the party, specifically, as a burglar. Why? ‘Cause he’s a wizard, that’s why, and wizards don’t need to explain themselves.

Before Bilbo can think of a sufficiently polite reason to object, he’s off on the adventure of a lifetime, encountering all sort of difficulties, including a creepy blighter on the shores of an underground pond – and, of course, Smaug at the end of it all. But how can thirteen dwarves and a hobbit beat a dragon, even with a wizard’s help? And what about this magic ring he’s picked up…?

Let’s start with the bad – or, at least, not good – stuff first, because it is there and deserves a mention. This is not a film made with the Tolkien purist in mind. Parts that stretch over dozens of pages in the original have here been condensed into minutes-long segments, with details truncated, whittled down, or omitted entirely. The introduction of the dwarves is a good example of this; in the book, their arrival at Bag End is slow and drawn-out – here, they’re right on Gandalf’s heels as he introduces himself (and they leave out the bit where he somehow manages to convince Bilbo to let them all into the house; at least in the original it’s plausible that he’s being polite to arriving guests). Heck, there’s an entire segment near the middle that is left out – and it’s pretty obvious that this is the case, because it’s referred to in the dialogue. It’s an important scene, too, one that influences some significant character interactions later on in the story. Why they left it out I’ll never know, but left out it was, and if you’re at all the nitpicky sort it will drive you crazy.

Furthermore, there are some scattered moments throughout the film that seem annoyingly hand-holdy. Does Bilbo really have to ask what runes are (surely he’s seen them before; this is freakin’ Middle-Earth, they’re all over the place), or shout ‘the ponies!’ when said ponies are being dragged away? Surely these are things that either are or would become self-evident? I don’t mind family films that slow down a little now and then so their younger viewers can catch up – after all, you gain nothing by hopelessly confusing your target audience – but I draw the line at bits that make me feel like I, personally, am being condescended to.

Also, we never do find out just why Gandalf decides that Bilbo is a burglar born. In the book, it’s implied that he met him as a kid and therefore knows more about the hobbit’s true character than he himself does, but here? ‘Hey Bilbo, I’m Gandalf, here’s the dwarves; oh by the way, pack your bags, ‘cause you’re going with ‘em.’ I mean, sure, he’s right; Bilbo winds up being a valuable asset to the party, but a little explanation as to his reasoning would have worked wonders, ya know?

So, yeah, if you have nitpickyness at the root of your soul, these things may well infuriate you. I hope you can get past them, though, because I personally consider The Hobbit to be a genuinely good (if undoubtedly flawed) little film.

If I may veer off and get pretentious here for a moment, there are two basic cinematic philosophies I have observed over the years. One is story-based, by which I mean concerned with making sure a movie has a strong plotline that holds up to close scrutiny, and the other is feel-based, by which I mean mood, tone, etc. Every director who is not completely generic falls either directly into or somewhere in between one of these camps – Tim Burton, for instance, would fall more into the latter category, while someone specializing in mystery/thriller type films would be more in camp #1.

While I haven’t seen as many Rankin/Bass productions as some, the impression I’ve generally gotten from them is that they tended to fit more into the ‘feel’ category, not being concerned so much with films that made sense on a literal level as an emotional one. This is certainly the case so far as The Hobbit goes, and it’s actually a pretty solid strategy – how do you make a production that’s true to the source material when you can’t fit everything in? Focus on evoking the mood of the original, in other words, making it feel like the book – and goldarn it, it works!

The movie may fudge some of the details a bit, true, but it keeps all the important story beats, and manages to summon up a mood that, if not precisely what you’d be feeling while reading the original, comes pretty darn close. One of the book’s great strengths, I’ve always thought, is its oddly comforting atmosphere – sure, the characters are having exciting adventures and are frequently in dire peril, but it nonetheless has the comfortable familiarity of an oft-repeated story told to you by a beloved relative. It has that indefinable ‘warm glow’ sort of feel to it, if you know what I mean.

Of course, this association between the two may have something to do with my own personal history with the movie. I don’t think I first saw it before I’d read the book – in fact, I’m almost certain I didn’t – but I did, I’m pretty sure, see it during a period where I hadn’t read the book in quite a while, because I remember picking it up at one point and being surprised at how many things were in it that weren’t in the movie, and vice versa. In any case, the film has come to define the book for me in a way, or, at any rate, my mental depiction of some of its characters and scenes.

To explain just why this is, we’ll have to delve a little deeper, given that ‘indefinable warm glow feeling’ isn’t much to go on. Let’s start with the visuals – this film looks great. The backgrounds are really rather beautiful, sepia-tinged watercolor pieces that (appropriately enough) evoke the feel of old illustrations, like you’d find in a book of fairy tales from the nineteenth century. It gives the whole thing that timeless feel that any story of Middle-Earth really demands to some degree.

The Hobbit’s real visual strength, however, lies in its character designs. I’ll get into the individual characters later, but generally speaking, I’d say that the overall depiction of… well, of almost everyone, basically, is as close to iconic as something like this gets. The dwarves, for example, just taken as a whole, are very convincingly dwarfish – burly and bearded, but not comically so, and with a wide range of body types and the like. Heck, they give individual personalities to dwarves who aren’t Thorin or Bombur (everyone remembers Bombur, you see, ‘cause he’s fat), and that was something that didn’t always work within the book itself. And of course you can’t have dwarves without elves (at least, not with Tolkein and his imitators, you can’t), so I’m gratified to note that… well, that these are some very interesting elves here. I’m not sure where they came up with the gray-skinned, flaxen-haired, big-eyed scrawny critters that fill the role, but you know what? They suit me fine. Let’s face it, everyone depicts elves one of two ways these days – either very pretty human-sized types (fantasy) or tiny li’l guys in stocking caps (Santa). I may not generally think of elves as looking like this, but I’m glad that someone had the guts to be different.

My personal favorite, though, would have to be the goblins. There has never really been a standard model for goblins, but this is definitely one of the more memorable ones. Stocky, mostly mouth, not too big but large enough to tower over a dwarf, horns, teeth, big boogly eyes – I’ve certainly seen worse. (Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that they have, by far, the best songs.)

Right, the songs. I suppose I should talk about them.

There are those, I know, who don’t like the songs in this movie. ‘Why all the warbling?’ they grumble. ‘Is this a fantasy adventure story or a musical? Bah! Foo!’

I can understand that viewpoint; honestly I can, but I don’t share it, and here’s why. While there is a lot of singing in The Hobbit, well… there’s a lot of singing in The Hobbit. As in, the original. Flip through it; it seems like every twenty pages or so Tolkein went ‘I’m bored; let’s spice things up with a ditty’. It’s not like he had people spontaneously bursting into random musical numbers or anything – every song has a reason for being there and makes sense within the context of the story – but yeah, there’s a lot of ‘em.

Now, you could just chop out the songs altogether, but you know what? That, to me, would not be The Hobbit. If you’re going to adapt a classic book, you must be prepared to tackle it warts and all. I’ve never come across an adaptation of it that left out the songs (although the Jackson version has so far cut out several, but it has left in a few), and while they aren’t exactly integral to the plot, it’s safe to say that it wouldn’t feel the same without them.

And anyway, what’s wrong with the songs here? I think they’re pretty awesome. Like I said, the goblins get the best – they’re rendered by a bass male chorus who deliver the verses with a booming, menacing relish – but the others aren’t bad either. The dwarves’ rendition of ‘Far O’er the Misty Mountains Cold’ (probably the best-known one) is quite effective, even if it’s just a few choruses that are actually sung of it (the rest is recited by the narrator), and the others are simply sung underneath the action by one group of singers or another. Sure, none of them are exactly epic numbers, and purists may gnash their teeth at how Tolkein’s lyrics got chopped up and rearranged, but honestly, I enjoy the songs, and often find myself humming them at inopportune moments. No trouble with them, have I.

Soooooo, characters. First up, of course, is Bilbo. Bilbo (or this incarnation of him) is a good example of a character who more or less works despite himself. The depiction of him here is another example of something that may set purists a-grinding, as he has little of the book version’s think-by-the-seat-of-your-pants succeed-despite-your-limitations nature. He’s a lot more sure of himself, doesn’t get flustered anywhere near as easily, and is overall much more of a traditional adventure hero than many people, I’m sure, will think Bilbo should be.

There is, however, a reason for this. Book-Bilbo is, however we may love him, a bit of a wimp. He’s a clever, resourceful wimp, an endearing one, and one who manages to survive incredible odds and come out changed by them, but he is, at heart, a wimp. And really that’s a good thing, because he’s not supposed to be a swashbuckling hero; he’s supposed to be a portly middle-aged homebody who likes nothing more than to eat lavish meals and sit in a comfy chair while smoking his pipe. He is completely out of his element and manages to survive despite that, thus proving that Gandalf was right and that he does have hidden qualities to him that make him a worthy addition to Thorin’s party.

Such things, though, are much easier to put across in a book than in an hour-and-a-quarter long movie. In the former, as previously stated, we get a bit more of Bilbo’s history vouchsafed to us, and so it is not quite so much of a stretch that he winds up going on an adventure that he has little actual interest in – it is, as Tolkein would put it, his “Tookish side” coming through; there is adventure in his blood, however much he may want to deny it. This is not the case in the movie, where the first we see or hear of Bilbo is just before Gandalf arrives and the plot gets kicked off. Heck, we never even see another hobbit, let alone get to hear of the Baggins’ history or Gandalf’s association with them. There is no time for that; the story must move forward and we must hurry along with it.

Therefore, our Mr. Baggins must also be hurried along. His hidden qualities must be not-so-hidden, or else we would be wondering why the hell Gandalf plucked this hairy-footed pygmy from his hidey-hole and brought him along. Book-Bilbo simply wouldn’t work here; his wimpish qualities would override his heroic ones and make it unbelievable when he did do clever and heroic things; we’d be left blinking and going ‘where the hell did that come from?’ Therefore, this Bilbo has a cool head and an unflappable nature from day one. True, we get hints of his literary mindset from time to time – he mutters about being away from his home, he tuts about how foolish this quest is, he does panic from time to time – but overall, he is Bilbo-as-hero instead of Bilbo-as-homebody. And honestly, that’s OK by me; after all, both parts are canonical elements of his nature, and if one wins out over the other, well – that’s life. At any rate, Bilbo looks great; his design making him look young enough to be convincing as someone who could go on this quest, while at the same time looking convincingly like the middle-aged likes-his-meals sort of fellow he is. Orson Bean doesn’t do much to distinguish himself in the role, but he has a pleasant middle-of-the-road quality to his voice that fits the character well.

Next we have the two other main characters, Gandalf and Thorin. This version of Gandalf is much more on the mysterious side of things than the comparatively kindly-but-badass-old-guy Ian McKellen interpretation, but that’s really how he was in The Hobbit – he’s a pretty mysterious guy. We never find out just how he encountered Thorin and agreed to help him, we never know just why he’s there sometimes and not others, and while we do get to see a bit more of his character as a whole than here, we never find out just what his overall motivations are besides the fact that he’s on the side of good. As such, this Gandalf is perfectly in line with his book counterpart, as is his character design – taller than anyone else in the movie (except the dragon, of course), clad in billowing robes and tall pointy hat, with piercing eyes, long nose and beard – it’s pretty much the prototypical wizard design, and tends to be the first one I think of when the term comes up. As for his voice, John Huston does a terrific job in the role – there’s none of McKellen’s bellowing and grandeur, but there doesn’t need to be; this guy can wring more gravitas and I-know-something-you-don’t-know out of a single terse syllable than all the bellowing in the world. Not, I should state hastily, that I have anything against McKellen’s interpretation; it’s great and I can see why it’s the iconic portrayal for many, but for me, it’s Huston’s. I just like it better. His Gandalf is wise, mysterious, powerful, cryptic, and occasionally a little bit scary, and that sums up the character nicely so far as I’m concerned.

The same (in terms of the character being summed up nicely) could be said of Thorin. This is one of those cases where character design and voice acting combine to create a near-perfect syncretic whole – Hans Conreid’s voice is perfect for this version of Thorin, to the point where I honestly think my understanding of the character would be quite different if anyone else had played him. This is definitely the Thorin I have in my head when I read the book – he’s a haughty, proud dwarf in mid-to-late middle age, quick to lay blame, yet ready to grudgingly admit it when he’s been proven wrong. He’s gruff yet noble, and he looks and sounds like it. There may have been more convincing versions of some of these characters since this was made, but for my money, no one has come close to beating the Rankin/Bass Thorin.

When you talk about The Hobbit, however – or Middle-Earth in general, for that matter – there is one name that inevitably comes up: Gollum. Yes, Gollum, that creepy-crawly creature who Bilbo has a game of riddles with – one of the sequences from the book, by the way, that has been well-done in every Hobbit adaptation to date that I’m aware of (and yes, that includes the latest). He was already popular with fantasy fans before the LoTR movies, but he’s become practically a household word since then. Oh, Gollum, we love you so. Gollum Gollum Gollum. How is Gollum here?

Well, opinions may vary, but I’d say he’s pulled off quite well. His character design is admittedly a bit weird – a sort of big-eared, ragged, froggy creature – and the fact that he’s larger than Bilbo is a bit on the dubious side of things, but there have been as many reinterpretations of Gollum’s design as there have been illustrated editions of the book – quite a few, in case you were wondering – so that’s not too big of a deal, and he does at least look suitably creepy. The real maker-or-breaker is the voice. How’s the voice? The voice is cool. Again, this is the version I hear in my head when I think of the character. Meaning no disrespect to Andy Serkis’ interpretation (which I’m sure fills the same role for most people), but his is tooled towards the slightly more sympathetic character of the LoTR saga, sounding a bit lighter and more sympathetic than the out-and-out boogyman he is in the original.

The R/B version, however, is all-boogyman all the time. I had never heard of the comedian Brother Theodore before this, but he does a terrific job here – his Gollum is dark, creaky and sonorous while still having a higher, screechy tone that he rises towards when excited or upset. He’s not so spooky that you can’t feel any sympathy for him, but when the wheels start turning in his nasty little head, you hear it, and it is shuddersome. This is quality Gollum.

Finally, of course, we have Smaug himself, the reason for this little expedition. Of him I will say little, except that his character design is nicely unusual, while his voice is adequate to the task, if not particularly standing out in any way. That completes the cast, I do believe, so let us move on to the wrap-up.

Is The Hobbit any good? Sure. Is it a masterpiece? No. Does it do the job? Yes. Is it worth seeing? Indeed. Will it satisfy the die-hard Tolkein fan? Probably not, but little does; that is the nature of the die-hard when it comes to such matters. Divorced from the source material, is it a rather nifty little cartoon in it’s own right? I think so, and perhaps so will you. If not, well, we must agree to disagree.

Full stop, they lived happily ever after, merrily we roll along, the end. Roll on endpaper, close cover with decisive snap, put back on shelf. Take back out, remove bookmark. Put back. Tuck in. Roll credits.

The review is over. Read the quotes and chuckle warmly.


Justin’s rating: If only Bilbo could capture Smaug in a poké-ball, he would have the ultimate pocket monster!

Justin’s review: Long before Peter Jackson took the easy way out by doing a Lord of the Rings version with (yawn) live actors filmed in his backyard and such, the craftsmen of yore  actually put it a good day’s work by making animated versions of the Tolkien classics.

Instead of a lush, rich three-dimensional computer generated Gollum, we got a flat, two-dimensional WONDER OF THE WESTERN WORLD Gollum, moving at a generous three frames per second. Well, sometimes none. Sometimes the animators went on a coffee break, leaving the poor screenwriters to scribble in and record a 15-minute internal monologue of a statue-still figure. But that was good enough in my day, and by gum, it should be good enough for yours!

Sure, some negative film critics might denounce Lord of the Rings as being one of the single worst travesties to befall the silver screen, but they’re just cranky because they haven’t had their diapers changed yet. During the same year at that film, Tolkien fans were gifted with a television dowry as well: an animated version of The Hobbit, a.k.a. “The One Tolkien Book That Actually Reads Well, Possibly Because Tolkien Didn’t Spend Every Other Chapter Fawning Over The Elves And Their Language, Culture, Clothing, Likes, Dislikes, Hobbies, Pets, Dating Rituals, Mating Rituals, Birthing Rituals, Graduation Rituals and Favorite Web Sites As He Does In Lord Of The Rings.”

Based on every single unoriginal Dungeons & Dragons campaign that came both before and after, The Hobbit is a tale about a reluctant adventurer (a bowling ball-figured midget) who is hijacked to go on a quest with gold-crazy dwarves and their senile wizard ringleader. Bilbo finds a secret inner strength to battle trolls, spiders and dragons, but he finds this strength about three hundred pages too late, as he’s already agreed to go on this insane quest.

I’m sorry, but if a spooky wizard and a baker’s dozen of dwarves barge into your home and flatly demand that you come traipsing around the world with them to get some booty (the diamond-filled kind), you just say NO! Then you call the Hobbiton Police Department to escort the kindly crazies out.

If you’ve read the book, then you’ll probably be able to follow the plot; if you haven’t, then good luck. Even though the events more or less follow what happened in the novel, they rush certain parts along (including many important backstory scenes) just to get to the next fireball-spewing part. The most disconcerting aspect is the underdevelopment of Bilbo. As the main hero and the focus of The Hobbit’s plot, Bilbo should have gotten a few more minutes to show his reluctant transformation from a meek soap opera-watcher to brash adventurer. In the movie, he goes from the first to the second almost instantly — and in the first fifteen minutes — making the whole question of hidden Hobbit strengths moot.

By far, the most ridiculous buffoonery that The Hobbit has to offer is its aspirations to be a grand musical (read more about my thoughts on the tunes in the Soundtrack Review section). Just because Tolkien wrote songs in his books doesn’t mean they should be sung. I like to imagine that the music composer of The Hobbit had a fierce hatred of the movie’s director, and so decided to throw a song in just about everywhere, even over dialogue and important action sequences. Sometimes the songs are used as a sort of montage, to speed up the pesky plot and utterly confuse any eight year-old watching.

Despite some instances of flat acting, jerky plot pacing and the constant, soul-rending musical numbers, The Hobbit remains a fairly fine piece of Tolkienobelia even today. After the herky-jerkiness of The Lord of the Rings cartoon, I sincerely appreciated the minimalistic watercolor drawings — sometimes this captured the spirit of Middle Earth very nicely. Some of the voice acting (particularly Gollum’s) is spot-on, and unexpected in something made straight-for-TV.

Still, the only reasons to see this would be either if you were a stupid movie reviewer who wanted to find stranger-than-ordinary fare, or if you had a few friends and wanted something to lightly mock while still being lightly entertained while doing so. At least The Hobbit wasn’t as bad as the other animated LOTR movies, so we’ll let it rest in piece, my precioussss.

"'Why' is considered a dirty word around these parts, hobbit. We don't appreciate foul language."
“‘Why’ is considered a dirty word around these parts, hobbit. We don’t appreciate foul language.”


  • In the original, when Bilbo infiltrates Smaug’s lair he is accompanied part of the way by Balin. Here, he goes alone, but Balin is the one who wishes him good luck.
  • Many of the animators who worked on this film would go on to join Hayao Miyazaki in the making of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and ultimately help form Studio Ghibli.
  • When Elrond interprets the Moon-Letters, the runes shown are in fact the wrong ones; they are actually those that are clearly visible elsewhere on the map, which translate as “five feet high the door, and three may walk abreast”. (Also, earlier Bilbo says that “this hand points from these runes”, but at that point, there are no runes under the hand – those are the Moon-Letters, which materialize later.)
  • As shown in the film, the Lonely Mountain is clearly designed to suggest a dwarf’s head – a suggestion of a bulbous nose and deep-set eyes, flowing into a sort of stone ‘beard’ at the base, and with the peak suggesting a tall pointed cap (or one of the conical battle helmets the dwarves are shown wearing).
  • In the book, the dwarves’ primary concern seems to be freeing their ancient home from Smaug – in the movie, it seems to be recovering the treasure, as there is brief mention of ‘preparing it for shipment’.
  • Bilbo’s got some heavy bags happening under his eyes. Also, he sports a nice set of buck teeth.
  • So is Gandalf trying to go for the scariest wizard of the year award, with the lightning and the halloween mask-like face? Everyone’s noses are either sharp beaks or chubby feet
  • Bilbo’s high-pitched noise and faint when he finds out that he’s going to be their burglar is out-and-out hilarious
  • Elves have Christmas lights halo’d around their heads
  • Gandalf’s always getting the dwarves out of their Bat-traps. Those dwarves wouldn’t have lasted ten seconds without him.
  • An Orc, hit by a magical sword, will swirl away into darkness like he’s going down a toilet. [Uh… that’s a goblin, actually.]
  • Why would Gollum leave his ring lying on the shore anyway?
  • During the riddles scene, the camera suddenly starts panning over the walls for no reason, and does so for quite some time.
  • The ring noises are pretty darn funny
  • Gandalf makes bad ring-related puns
  • You can sort of see the entire Tolkein saga in animated form, starting with this film, the going on to the horrid Lord of the Rings (which covers “Fellowship of the Ring” and “The Two Towers“), and finally ending up with Return of the King. The Hobbit and Return of the King were made and directed by the same people.
  • Tolkein wrote a lot of songs in his books, which were license of sillyness on his behalf, and are incredibly goofy when put to tune here. This is almost a musical in the sheer number of songs belted out, including a song about washing dishes, a sad history of the dwarves, and a folk tune about adventuring — and that’s just in the first TEN MINUTES!

Groovy Quotes:

Song lyric: The greatest adventure is what lies ahead/
Today and tomorrow are yet to be said/
The chances, the changes/Are all yours to make/
The mold of your life is in your hands to break.

Gandalf: Enough! I am Gandalf! And Gandalf means – me!

Gollum: Curse us and crush us!

Thorin: Your kind will never understand war, hobbit! This is war! War!

Dwarves: (singing) Far o’er the Misty Mountains Cold/
Through dungeons deep and caverns old/
We must away ere break of day/
To seek our pale enchanted gold.

Gollum: Bless us and splash us! Food for my precious!

Goblins: (singing) Fifteen birds/in five fir-trees/
Their feathers were fanned/In a fiery breeze/
What funny little birds/They have no wings/
Oh, what shall we do/with the funny little things/
Oh, what shall we do/with the funny little things?

Thorin: May the hair on his toes never fall out!

Elves: (singing) Oh, where are you goin’/With beards all a waggin’/
No knowin’, no knowin’/What brings Mr. Baggins/
And Balin and Dwalin/In June, in the valley/Ha-ha!

Gandalf: And how do you intend to enter Smaug’s chambers? Through the main gate, as a house-guest? You’d be ashes before you took your seventh step.

Gollum: Not fair! Not fair to ask, my precious, what it’s got in its nasty, little, pocketes-es!

Song lyric: A man who’s a dreamer/And never takes leave/
Who thinks of a world/That is just make-believe/
Will never know passion/Will never know pain/
Who sits by the window/Will one day see rain.

Bilbo: No hat, no stick, no pipe – not even a pocket handkerchief. How can one survive?

Gollum: Is it nice, my precious? Is it juicy – gooey – yucky? Is it… scrumptious?

Narrator: The dwarves of yore made mighty spells
while hammers fell like ringing bells
in places deep, where dark things sleep,
in hollow halls beneath the fells.

Goblets they carved there for themselves,
and harps of gold, where no man delves.
There they lay long, and many a song
was sung unheard by men or elves.

Bilbo: There are moments which can change a person for all time, and I suddenly wondered if I would ever see my snug hobbit-hole again. I wondered if I actually wanted to.

Gollum: This thing, all things devours! Birds, beasts, trees, flowers! Gnaws iron, bites steel, grinds hard stones to meal; slays king, ruins town – and beats high mountain… dow-w-w-w-wwnnn!

Goblins: (singing) Down, down to Goblin-Town/
Down, down to Goblin-Town/
Down, down to Goblin-Town/
You go, my lad/Ho-ho, my lad!

Bilbo: I am Mr. Bilbo Baggins. I’ve lost my dwarves, my wizard and my way.

Song lyrics: Heave-ho, splash, pump/Rollin’ down the hole/
Heave-ho, bash, bump/Roll, roll, rollin’ down the hole!

Gollum: The Baggins! My precious will crash it, and SMASH IIIIIIT!

Smaug: ‘Revenge’? You? HA! I am Smaug! I kill where I wish! I am strong, strong, STRONG! My armor is like tenfold shields, my teeth are like swords, my claws spears! The shock of my tail, a thunderbolt; my wings, a hurricane! And my breath – death!

Elrond: (reading) “Stand by the gray stone when the thrush knocks, and the last light of the setting sun will shine upon the keyhole.”

Bard: Black arrow, you’ve never failed me, and I’ve always recovered you. I had you from my father, and he from of old. If ever you came from the forges of the true King under the Mountain, go now and speed well!

Smaug: ‘Burglar’? BURRRRG-LAAAAR!

Gollum: Thiiiiief! Thief! Baggins – we hates it! Hates it – FOREVER!

Gandalf: You’re a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I’m very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world, after all.
Bilbo: Thank goodness!

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (‘70’s animated version)
  • Return of the King (also by Rankin/Bass)


  1. IIRC the only dwarves who actually speak are Thorin, Balin, Dori, and Bombur (with Dwalin getting exactly one line).

    • I’ve never worked it out myself, but you’re probably right – although I do recall more than one occasion where various dwarves are crying out in panic, so there may be a few extra voices worked in then.

  2. IIRC, it was Thurl Ravenscroft (of Tony the Tiger fame, among countless other roles) who performed the goblin songs. And speaking of which, I was sort of happy the Jackson movie didn’t have its own version of the “Down To Goblin-Town” song, because I was sure whatever tune they came up with for it wouldn’t be able to compare with the incredible catchiness in the animated version. I really hope it isn’t in the Extended Edition, either. Maybe that’s a terrible thing for me to say, I don’t know.

    • That makes sense; he certainly had the voice for it. I’m guessing it was him as part of a chorus, though, as I’m pretty sure the songs had more than one voice singing them.
      I don’t see how there could be a Goblin-Town song in the Jackson version, extended or not, since A: the song is sung as they capture and escort the dwarves down to the titular place, which doesn’t really happen in the Jackson version (or rather, it happens, but in a very different way), and B: Jackson’s Goblins are kind of inarticulate cackling idiots except for their leader.

  3. Don’t talk about Bombur like that! He’s a great character! He’s also my favorite character!

    • Dude, no-one’s dissing Bombur. I like him, too. I just said that he’s not terribly important to the plot, especially in this version, where things are very stripped down.

      • LOL, would ya believe it’s me seven years later? Sorry for being tempermental way back then. I’m older, wiser, and twenty y/o now! But even so, I gotta say that looking back, I really think that they made sweet, gentle Rankin-Bass Bombur be killed off to prove a point about the horrors of war :,(

      • No worries; I wasn’t offended or anything. I’ve been guilty of a few passionate outbursts myself from time to time.

        Yes, that final scene is pretty intense. I think they intentionally focused the Battle of Five Armies into a single brief, chaotic sequence with a sad aftermath to, as you said, make sure it was not glamorized. More than that, though, it makes a point about peace – that ‘child of the kindly west’ line Thorin gives as he’s dying has stuck with me for many years.

        Basically, I think the point they make is this: while conflict may be inevitable, to some degree, it should never be invited, and doubly never for selfish or foolish reasons. If Thorin had been more sensible about sharing his gold, the Goblins would have found a strong, united front facing them when their army arrived, and perhaps would have even turned back. Instead, it was a hasty, scrambled alliance, and many, many died. It is always better to stand besides your fellow man in the interest of peace and fellowship, when you can – a message which, sadly, is still very relevant today, when we are more divided now than we have been in a very long time.

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