In early-20th-century New England, 9-year-old orphan Pete escapes his brutal adoptive parents, the Gogans, with his only friend, a cartoon dragon named Elliott. They successfully escape to Passamaquoddy, Maine and live with lighthouse-keeper Nora and her father Lampie, but the corrupt Dr. Terminus seeks Elliott for medical purposes.Written by
Matthew Anscher <email@example.com>
The film was a moderate success, grossing $18 million over a $10 million budget. However it was a severe disappointment for Disney, who were hoping to repeat the success of Mary Poppins (1964). See more »
When Hoagy (in disguise) clutches a dollar bill during the song "Passamaquoddy" it is of a mid-20th-century design. See more »
Where'd he go?
[when Elliott was flying up with Pete]
He must have went that-a-way. Oh, Petey...
I'll wring his neck!
[...] See more »
This Disney film has a troubled history as far as the many different versions released over the years. It originally ran 134 minutes. After its premiere engagement in Hollywood, it was cut down to 121 minutes before it premiered in New York. When it was released in Europe, it ran 105 minutes, with the following edits: -"Candle on the Water" (which survived only as an instrumental passage over the credits replacing the original overture) and "The Happiest Home in These Hills" were eliminated entirely.
-Verses from "I Saw A Dragon," "Passamashloddy," "There's Room For Everyone," and "Every Little Piece" were cut.
-21 scenes were shortened. This version was used for the original home video release in 1980, while every video since then has run 128 minutes, restoring the songs and the majority of dramatic material. However, when Disney re-released it in theaters, it was the European cut. Even further cuts were made for the TV version of the film, which premiered on "The Disney Sunday Movie" in 1986. See more »
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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