Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown

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Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown
Directed by Jim Reardon
Written by Jim Reardon
Starring Etienne Badillo
Rich Moore
Mike Reardon
William Holden
Bret Haaland
Ethan Kafner
Jeff Pidgeon
Narrated by Rich Moore
Running time 4 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown is an animated short directed and animated by Jim Reardon, who would later become director and storyboard consultant for The Simpsons. The cartoon was made in 1986 while he was at CalArts. It has a rough draft-like, unfinished black-and-white look to it, with no real color other than the necessary black outlines.

Synopsis[edit]

The short film is a faux trailer for another forthcoming Peanuts television special, and parodies the aforementioned series of Peanuts specials. The "special" is said to be due for broadcast on Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m., and was sponsored by a foods company called Madison Barns, makers of ding-dongs, swinkies, pooftas and wussy cakes".

The Great Pumpkin puts a bounty on Charlie Brown's head, prompting the entire Peanuts cast to try to kill him. Lucy tries to get Charlie Brown to kick a bomb disguised as a football, Schroeder dumps his (full-sized, not toy) piano on Charlie Brown's head, Snoopy bites off his hand (which gushes blood), the Kite Eating Tree falls on him, and Linus strangles him with his blanket (which he had turned into a makeshift Garroting Wire).

Finally tired of running, Charlie Brown suddenly dons a mohawk and arms himself with a pump action shotgun, a submachine gun, and an M16 Assault Rifle. He then systematically kills off the entire Peanuts cast one by one. The film then goes on a strange montage in which Charlie Brown guns down everyone in his way: scores of Mexican bandidos, a Wehrmacht machine gun nest behind which Adolf Hitler is painting a picture, and Richard Simmons doing jumping jacks. This is followed by his innocent sister, Sally, being decapitated by gunfire. Following this is a montage of a small dragon breathing flame, Pig Pen vomiting profusely in Violet's face, two biplanes colliding in midair, Dagwood Bumstead getting kicked in the groin by his wife, Blondie, which causes his head to pop off, resulting in another blood gush, Mickey Mouse getting hit over the head by a lead pipe, Rocky Balboa getting punched in the face by Popeye, and Godzilla squeezing Dr Pepper out of a giant soda can. It ends with Charlie Brown announcing that "Happiness is a warm uzi" in a thick Germanic accent reminiscent of Arnold Schwarzenegger and a cut to him smoking a cigarette in bed with the Little Red-Haired Girl (who, fittingly, is not fully seen), who asks Charlie Brown to turn off the bedroom light.[1]

The song "Charlie Brown" by The Coasters plays over the ending credits (where it is incorrectly attributed to The Platters). The credits end with a note from Jim Reardon:

"The creator of this picture wishes to state that he does not in any way wish to tarnish or demean the beloved characters of Charles M. "Dutch" Schultz's comic strip, "Peanuts". No malice or damage to their goodwill was intended. So please don't sue me, because it will drag through the courts for years, and I haven't got a lawyer - and besides, you've already got half the money in the world, and I haven't got any. OK?"

References to other media[edit]

Jim Reardon makes several references to Sam Peckinpah films throughout the short. For example, the title itself - as well as the basic plot - is a play on Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. The title is borrowed from National Lampoon's parody of TV Guide.

Charlie Brown shot by Lucy in the short, compared to William Holden being shot by the prostitute in the original film.

The Peanuts massacre is a major satire of the climax in Sam Peckinpah's classic film The Wild Bunch. There are slow-motion death scenes intercut with rapid shots, much like Peckinpah's editing style. Violet's death scene, in which she spins around with her revolver, is a copy of Herrera's death scene at the start of the gun battle. The sequence in which Lucy shoots at Charlie Brown from behind and he spins around screaming and kills her with a shotgun is word-for-word, shot-for-shot taken from the sequence where the prostitute shoots William Holden in the back. There is even a part where Charlie Brown waves his submachine around, screaming the famous Warren Oates scream, and the camera pan across several Mexican bandits being blown away. An interesting note is that Reardon actually uses sound bytes from the movie in these two previous scenes.

The references to Peckinpah are made even more clear at the end of the film when Reardon dedicates it to Sam "The Man" Peckinpah.

There are some non-Peckinpah references made in the short, such as Charlie Brown's mohawk, a reference to Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and Lucy speaking in a John Wayne impression. Reardon also identifies Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz as "Charles M. 'Dutch' Schultz", as in mobster Dutch Schultz.

Godzilla squeezing the giant Dr. Pepper can is a reference to the then-recent Dr. Pepper ad campaign featuring the famed monster.

When Charlie Brown's arm is bitten off by Snoopy, the screaming sound effects are from the cartoon Tom and Jerry.

When Charlie Brown is being strangled by Linus, the sound effects are from the Monty Python skit "Farewell to John Denver".

The brief image of a small fire-breathing dragon is from Snookles, an animated short by Juliet Stroud, which, like this film, was produced at the California Institute of the Arts in 1986.

Cast and credits[edit]

  • Charlie Brown - Etienne Badillo, Rich Moore, Mike Reardon, William Holden
  • Linus van Pelt - Ethan Kafner
  • Lucy van Pelt - Bret Haaland
  • Great Pumpkin - Jeff Pidgeon
  • Additional Voices - Ed Bell, Bruce Johnson, Mike Reardon, Bret Haaland
  • Narration - Rich Moore
  • "Aided and Abetted by" - Ed Bell, Dale Mcbeath, Bob Winquist, Mike Giaimo, Craig Smith, Bret Haaland, Nate Kanfer, Doug Frankel, Mike Reardon, Rich Moore, Russ Edmonds, Hal Ambro, Dan Hansen, Jim Ryan, Tony Fucile, Jeff Pidgeon, Bob McCrea, Sarge Morton, Mom, Eileen, and Beverly

References[edit]

External links[edit]