Rock-a-Doodle is a 1991 Animated musical comedy/fantasy film loosely based on Edmond Rostand's comedy, Chantecler. This film was directed by Don Bluth, produced by Goldcrest Films for The Samuel Goldwyn Company, and originally released in the United Kingdom and in Ireland on August 2, 1991, and in the United States on April 3, 1992.
Chanticleer (Glen Campbell) is a proud rooster whose singing wakes the sun up every morning (or so the other farm animals believe). His singing keeps the other animals happy and the farm free from downpours. However, one morning, Chanticleer is confronted by another rooster sent by the "Grand Duke of Owls" (Christopher Plummer). Chanticleer wins, but forgets to crow and the sun rises without his singing. The other animals reject him and drive him out of the farm, causing a perpetual rainstorm and beginning the Grand Duke's reign of terror on the farm. The story then reveals to be a storybook that a mother named Dory (Kathryn Holcomb) reads to her child, Edmond (Toby Scott Ganger), who becomes increasingly concerned about the impending flood on the family's farm.
As his family leaves to help battle the storm, Edmond calls for Chanticleer to come back. Instead he is confronted by the Grand Duke of Owls, who expresses anger over Edmond's apparent lack of consideration for the needs of the owls and subsequently transforms Edmond into a kitten as punishment. Before the Grand Duke can devour Edmond, he is distracted by the appearance of Patou the Basset Hound (Phil Harris) and is driven away by the shine of a flashlight, which is his only weakness. Astonished by his transformation, the farm animals tell Edmond that they also seek Chanticleer's return, as his crowing is the only thing that can bring sunlight back to their farm. Edmond teams up with Patou, Snipes the magpie (Eddie Deezen) and Peepers the mouse (Sandy Duncan) and they make their way to the City, where they hope to find Chanticleer.
Meanwhile, at the Grand Duke's lair (where he creates rainclouds through the use of a gigantic pipe organ), the Grand Duke is alerted of Edmond's journey to the city by his pygmy nephew Hunch (Charles Nelson Reilly), who the Grand Duke then sends off to stop Edmond and the other animals, who are floating on the flood. After fending off an attack from Hunch and the rest of the Grand Duke's owl henchmen, Edmond and the others finally reach the city, where they begin their search for Chanticleer. After a few hours, they finally find Chanticleer, who now makes a living as a famous Elvis impersonator, arousing the jealousy of a fellow performer, a pheasant named Goldie (Ellen Greene).
Edmond and friends try to talk to Chanticleer, but are pushed aside by a group of singing toads acting as bouncers. Once the Grand Duke finds out where they went, he sends Hunch after them, but, fearing the bright lights of the city, the Grand Duke gives him a pair of protective sunglasses to prevent the light from hurting him. The flood worsens and the farm animals lose communication with Edmond and the others as the Grand Duke and his owls wait for the batteries in the animals' flashlight to run out, knowing that it runs out eventually. Edmond and his friends disguise themselves and manage to send a note to Chanticleer, but he is distracted by Goldie, who has fallen in love with him.
Edmond's attempt to reason with Goldie results in him and his friends being captured by the bodyguards and locked away in a trailer. Hunch breaks into the trailer and tries to do away with the group, but his failure inadvertently sets them all free. Out of guilt, Goldie shows Chanticleer the note that Edmond sent him and the two ride off on a prop motorcycle to save their friends. Chanticleer and the gang manage to flee from the bodyguards in an intense car chase and steal a helicopter, which they use to make their way back to the farm, where the farm animals have run out of batteries in their flashlight again and are about to be eaten by the Grand Duke and his owls.
After using the helicopter's searchlight to temporarily drive off the owls, Edmond and the others try to get Chanticleer to crow, but he is out of practice and soon gives up. The Duke taunts Chanticleer in his stupor and strangles Edmond into unconsciousness when he chants for Chanticleer. Awed by Edmond's courage, Patou and the other animals chant the rooster's name in unison, infuriating the Duke into transforming himself into a tornado.
Finally regaining his confidence, Chanticleer crows loud enough for the sun to rise, shrinking the Duke down into a harmless miniature version of himself. Hunch, eager for revenge, attacks his uncle with a flyswatter. The floods then begin to subside. Believing that Edmond has died, the animals mourn him until he transforms back into a human boy since his punishment ended because he learned the error of his ways and stopped being afraid during the car chase and gaining courage, causing the Duke's spell to break. Edmond awakes in the real world, finding it was all just a dream. Nevertheless, Edmond still believes in Chanticleer, using his imagination to visit the Chanticleer's world once more.
- Glen Campbell as Chanticleer, a rooster who lives on a farm with many other animals, who are fond of and love him. When the sun rises without his crowing, his friends, believing he was lying to them about how his crowing brought up the sun (a fact he himself thought was true), leave him, leading to the adventures of Edmund and the others. He is also based on the superstar Elvis Presley.
- Toby Scott Ganger as Edmond, the son of a human farmer. He transforms into a kitten by the Grand Duke as punishment and is the one who organizes the farm animals to bring Chanticleer back to the farm after the flood started.
- Phil Harris as Patou, a Basset Hound who's a good friend to both Chanticleer and Edmond and plays the narrator character of the story. He despises the Grand Duke and is dedicated to Edmond's cause to bring Chanticleer back home. He is brave and reasonable, but somewhat temperamental. His endeavour to find Chanticleer is hampered by the fact that he does not know how to tie his shoes (which he wears because of bunions). However, in the end, he finally figures out how to tie them right. This is Harris' final role before his retirement from acting and his death in 1995.
- Eddie Deezen as Snipes, a magpie. He, Edmond, Patou and Peepers travel to the city in a toybox floating on the floodwaters, with Snipes more interested in exploring the city and its sights than actually helping his friends. Being claustrophobic, this poses a problem when he pokes holes in the box trying to escape and reach open air. He hates garbage and dirt, but loves the food served in the city when they go inside a restaurant where Chanticleer sings, particularly lasagna.
- Sandy Duncan as Peepers, a mouse. Because of this, she is initially terrified of Edmond, but he tries to convince everyone that he used to be a boy. It is not until the very end of the movie that she believes him and comments "He was a little boy.... oh, he was a handsome little boy…." She has a lisp and very round glasses and is constantly arguing with Snipe's chauvinistic views.
- Christopher Plummer as the Grand Duke of Owls, a magical owl who despises Chanticleer. He overhears Edmond's call for Chanticleer in the real world and transforms him into a kitten as punishment, planning to eat him. The Duke hates his nephew and threatens several times to kill him if he fails. The Duke is a malevolent powerful creature of the night with a penchant for eating smaller animals as meals and commanding other villainous owls to do his bidding. He hates sunlight, like all owls, and recoils when light shines on him. Also, he possesses magical breath that can transform anyone into any creature.
- Charles Nelson Reilly as Hunch, the Grand Duke's pygmy owl nephew and lead henchman. Hunch enjoys rhyming words with "aggravation" and humming "The Ride of the Valkyries". He is dimwitted, but extremely aggressive. He carries an all-purpose Swiss Army Knife in a lidless soda can strapped to his back and uses its various bladed objects, tools and household objects (like a flyswatter) as weapons. A small running gag in the movie was that whenever the Duke would breathe on him, his magic would transform Hunch into a randomly different creature.
- Sorrell Booke as Pinky, an obese fox who favors golf. He is also Chanticleer's manager in the city. His job is to ensure that Chanticleer never feels the compulsion to return home by convincing him that his friends hate him, making it easy to profit off of Chanticleer's singing skills. He secretly works for the Grand Duke of Owls.
- Ellen Greene as Goldie, a pheasant and singer also in Pinky's employment. She initially dislikes Chanticleer for stealing her spotlight, but falls in love with him upon becoming more acquainted with him.
Plans for an animated version of the Chanticleer tale dated as far back as the early years of the Walt Disney Studios, where several of its artists were interested in combining elements of the story with those about an anthropomorphic fox named Reynard. Though character designs by Marc Davis survive, Walt Disney personally rejected the pitch, and the film was never put into production or animation tests. In the late 1980s, as a response to the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the proposal was revised by a former Disney animator, Don Bluth, who wanted to tell the rooster's story through live action and animation. Originally, the story's first and last scenes were to be shot in black and white, similar to 1939's The Wizard of Oz. The film's opening, which took place at a farm, had Edmond's mother reading the tale of Chanticleer to him. Victor French from Get Smart was set to direct these scenes, but terminal lung cancer forced him out of production. Bluth, who had never done anything in this field, took over from this point. However, very little of this footage made it in the final cut.
Chanticleer's girlfriend, Goldie the Pheasant, was designed to have attributes similar to that of Roger Rabbit's Jessica (as seen in the original trailer). Reactions from mothers during test screenings of her scenes made Sullivan Bluth, at the insistence of their investor Goldcrest Films, cover her chest with feathers as cel overlays, or simply paint her cleavage out. To avoid a potential PG rating, Bluth edited out the showing of the Duke's "skunk pie" (the pie is not seen in full view in the final version), the animators had to replace Chanticleer's wine glass with a transparent cup of soda in the "Kiss and Coo" sequence, and had to draw coloured effects into the Grand Duke's breath to make him less scary for young audiences. Test audiences also felt confused by the storytelling so the filmmakers decided to include narration told by the dog character, Patou, voiced by Phil Harris. The crew, because of these changes, had to work overtime in order to finish the film by Thanksgiving 1990.[nb 1]
Rock-a-Doodle was originally going to be released by MGM-Pathe, but studio partnership was facing financial difficulties, so Bluth rescheduled Rock-a-Doodle for the 1991 Christmas season and found a replacement in The Samuel Goldwyn Company, which released two other animated features (The Care Bears Movie and The Chipmunk Adventure) in the mid-1980s. However, that date was further moved to April 1992, in order to avoid competition with Disney's Beauty and the Beast and Universal/Amblin's sequel to Don Bluth's film, An American Tail, Fievel Goes West, in which Bluth was not involved.
Rock-a-Doodle was the first feature-length family live-action/animated film since 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but unlike the live-action characters from that film sharing the screen with Roger Rabbit, Edmond is the only live-action character to share the screen with the animated characters; this was at the beginning, where the Grand Duke would have to answer Edmond before being turned into an animated cat, and at the end, where Chanticleer is singing a reprise of "Sun Do Shine" like he does at the beginning. Don Bluth chose this direction because he was influenced by Roger Rabbit.
The live-action and animation sequences were filmed in two separate aspect ratios. The animation was shot on an open-matte fullscreen negative, meaning the top and bottom of the image was cropped in order to fit the theater screen. However the live-action scenes, including all animated elements, were shot in hard-matted widescreen. When the film is viewed in fullscreen, all the animated sequences (except for parts of the finale) can be seen in full, but the live-action segments lose information on the sides.
The original songs were written and produced by T.J. Kuenster.
- "Sun Do Shine" by Glen Campbell
- "We Hate the Sun" by Christopher Plummer
- "Come Back to You" by Glen Campbell
- "Rock-a-Doodle" by Glen Campbell
- "Bouncers" Theme Song by The Don Bluth Players
- "Tweedle Te Dee" by Christopher Plummer
- "Treasure Hunting Fever" by Glen Campbell
- "Sink or Swim" by Ellen Greene
- "Kiss 'n Coo" by Glen Campbell & Ellen Greene
- "Back to the Country" by Glen Campbell
- "The Owls Picnic" by Christopher Plummer
- "Tyin' Your Shoes" by Phil Harris
- "Sun Do Shine" (Reprise) by Glen Campbell
The background vocals on "Sun Do Shine," "Come Back to You," "Rock-a-Doodle," "Treasure Hunting Fever," "Sink or Swim," "Kiss 'n Coo," "Back to the Country," and "Tyin' Your Shoes" were sung by The Jordanaires, who were also known for backing up Elvis himself. The background vocals on "We Hate the Sun," "Tweedle Te Dee," and "The Owl's Picnic" were all sung by a triple-tracked T.J. Kuenster.
Its $11.6 million take at the U.S. box office forced Don Bluth's studio into liquidation half a year after its release. Moreover, a Hong Kong company, Media Assets, purchased Bluth's next three films, Thumbelina, A Troll in Central Park and The Pebble and the Penguin. None of these did any better than Rock-a-Doodle, commercially or critically. All of them preceded 1997's Anastasia, his comeback hit.
A book adaptation of the film, by Don Bluth and Chip Lovitt, was published by Troll Communications LLC (ISBN 0-8167-2475-X).
Video release historyEdit
Rock-a-Doodle was first released on VHS on August 18, 1992. It was first released on DVD by HBO Video on July 20, 1999. A second edition was released by Metro Goldwyn Mayer on November 8, 2005. In 2010, the film was released along with The Pebble and the Penguin as a double-sided DVD. The film is also currently available for instant streaming on Netflix.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Gritten, David, ed. (2007). "Rock-a-Doodle". Halliwell's Film Guide 2008. Hammersmith, London: HarperCollins Publishers. p. 1005. ISBN 0-00-726080-6Script error.
- ↑ Lenburg, Jeff (2009). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons Third Edition. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 0-8160-6599-3Script error.
- ↑ Gary Goldman at donbluth.com
- ↑ "Rock-a-Doodle's Bluth Is Crowing Animatedly". The Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1992-04-06/entertainment/ca-492_1_don-bluth. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
- ↑ Lenburg, Jeff (2009). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons Third Edition. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 0-8160-6599-3Script error.
- ↑ Hill, The "Chanticleer" Saga - Part Three
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 Beck, Jerry (2005). "Rock*a*Doodle". The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Reader Press. pp. 233–4. ISBN 1-55652-591-5Script error.
- ↑ "Rock-a-Doodle's Bluth is Crowing Animatedly". The Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1992-04-06/entertainment/ca-492_1_don-bluth. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
- ↑ Rock-a-Doodle at Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 26, 2007.
- Hill, Jim (August 2000). "The "Chanticleer" Saga - Part Three". http://jimhillmedia.com/blogs/jim_hill/archive/2000/12/31/308.aspx.
- Script error at the Internet Movie Database
- Rock-a-Doodle at AllRovi
- Rock-a-Doodle at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Rock-a-Doodle at Box Office Mojo
- Rock-a-Doodle at Rotten Tomatoes
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