In New England in the early 20th century, Pete is a nine-year-old orphan escaping from his brutal adoptive parents, the Gogans, with his only friend, a cartoon dragon named Elliott. They successfully escape to Passamaquoddy, Maine, and live with Nora, a lighthouse keeper, and her father, Lampie. Elliott is sought for medicinal purposes by the corrupt Dr. Terminus. Written by
Matthew Anscher <email@example.com>
Disney considered Olivia Newton-John to play Nora, but she was not available. Helen Reddy took the role because it was the best script she had been offered after her role as a singing nun in Airport 1975 (1974) and because she felt it would be the most appropriate for her as-yet unborn grandchildren to watch. See more »
In the song "There's Room for Everyone", Nora sings the lyric, "A dragon is just one more stranger in search of a friend," but she mouths the word "person" for "stranger". See more »
[comes out of the closet behind him and grabs him and messes up his hair]
Nowhere! Your hokey pokey dragon is out helpin' Santa Claus pull his sled! Boys!
Let me go!
[Willie and Grover lift him up by his legs and Pete pounds on them and tries to get free]
You're never gonna get away again! We're gonna put chains on ya when you're workin'!
And when you're not workin'!
And when you're sleepin'!
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Live-action Disney flick with a splash of animation. Well-made, entertaining, but slightly overlong.
You can be fairly sure with the animated Disney films that you're going to get something good. But with the studio's live-action films there are no guarantees. On the one hand, you might get something like Mary Poppins or 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea - in which case you'd be plenty satisfied. On the other hand you could get something as terrible as Popeye, in which case you'd need a great deal of willpower to make it to the end. Pete's Dragon is one of Disney's live-action ventures (though it features one animated character in Elliot, the dragon of the title). Though a little overlong and rambling, it is on the whole a well-made and entertaining film, and it is certainly a gulf ahead of the likes of Condorman, Popeye and Herbie Goes Bananas.
Scruffy young orphan Pete (Sean Marshall) is on the run in the woodland of Maine from the Gogan family, a bunch of abusive rednecks led by Lena Gogan (Shelly Winters), who claims that she owns Pete because she bought him at a market. Pete escapes from them, and sets off for Passamaquoddy, a nearby coastal town where he hopes to find safety. Accompanying Pete is an animated dragon named Elliot, who can make himself invisible and who has come to look after Pete until the kid has got his life sorted out. Once in Passamaquoddy, Pete and Elliot inadvertently cause havoc, including scaring the wits out of lighthouse-keeper Lampie (Mickey Rooney). They hide out in some nearby caves, but Pete is found by Lampie's daughter Nora (Helen Reddy), who decides to take him in. Elliot's job seems done (Pete is now safe and wanted, after all) but then con-man Dr. Terminus (Jim Dale) arrives in town.... and soon he's got his mind set on capturing the dragon.
Like I said, the film is rambling, and from this synopsis it's clear that the plot wanders around a lot, introducing probably more events and characters than necessary. Nonetheless, Pete's Dragon is still entertaining. Jim Dale as the unscrupulous Dr Terminus, and Red Buttons as his dim side-kick, are genuinely funny villains. The blending together of animated Elliot and the living, breathing actors is very good - especially for 1977 - though in a shipwreck sequence near the end the special effects are utterly dreadful. Kids will find a lot to like in Pete's Dragon as long as they can sit still for over 2 hours, and adults too will find pleasures along the way. It's certainly one of the better live-action offerings to come from the Disney studio at a time when their output was quite indifferent in quality.
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