Friday Gollum Fantastic

So today’s Funny is actually not a Funny at all.

It’s a Fantastic.

I’ve mentioned the animated version of “The Hobbit” before. This will either ruin it for you or pique your interest. Hopefully the latter.

Back in the late 1970’s, an animation company called Rankin/Bass put out this movie. It featured an impressive voice-over cast, with John Huston as Gandalf, Richard Boone as Smaug, Orson Bean as Bilbo, Hans Conried as Thorin, and Otto Preminger as the Wood Elf King, to name a few. We kids watched this almost religiously growing up, and it remains, at least for me, one of my all-time favorite animated films.

I have no problems with Peter Jackson’s and Andy Serkis’ take on Gollum. My only qualm, as it were, was that Gollum was almost too cute sometimes. You know?

This Gollum, by contrast, is how I’ve always imagined the character to be. Scary, unhinged, disturbed. Definitely not cute.

But that’s not the only thing I love about this.

It’s the voice. It’s always been in the voice.

The voice actor behind Gollum is a man known as Brother Theodore, or Theodore as the cast lists him here. Brother Theodore was a Holocaust survivor who turned into a comedian, and he was often featured on The David Letterman Show. He passed away in 2001. If you Youtube Brother Theodore, you’ll find a lot of his performances. Go check them out.

This was one of my earliest inklings as to the power of voice-over. His vocal performance is nothing short of astounding. To me, it never goes over the top – it stays completely within character. It still gives me chills, and his final scream of “Thief! We hates it forever!” is, to me, one of the scariest scenes ever committed to film. Because you know he will, you know he does, and it’s just incredible to hear.

Nowadays I gather everyone laughs about his performance, but they really shouldn’t. Don’t quote me on this, but Brother Theodore had the unenviable task of being the first performer to bring life to Gollum in any form of artistic medium. (I say “Don’t quote me,” because I don’t know if this truly was the first adaptation, so I might be misinformed.) In my humble opinion, he did it the best.

So here it is, in two parts, the scene from the animated “The Hobbit” where Bilbo meets Gollum. Many, many thanks to Youtube user NTorch for the videos; watch them before they’re gone. And, yes, it’s visually pretty dark, but you’ll get the gist.

Besides, it’s all about the voice.

Enjoy! And Happy Friday!

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