|Directed by||Don Bluth|
|Produced by||Gary Goldman
|Screenplay by||David N. Weiss|
|Story by||Don Bluth
David J. Steinberg
David N. Weiss
|Starring||Toby Scott Ganger
Charles Nelson Reilly
|Music by||Robert Folk
T. J. Kuenster (songs)
|Editing by||Lisa Dorney
Sullivan Bluth Studios
|Distributed by||The Samuel Goldwyn Company
|Running time||76 min.|
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. The film features the voices of Glen Campbell, Christopher Plummer, Phil Harris, Charles Nelson Reilly, Sandy Duncan, Eddie Deezen, Ellen Greene and Toby Scott Ganger.
Chanticleer (Glen Campbell) is a proud rooster whose crowing 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 gets in a fight with another rooster that was sent by the Grand Duke of Owls (Christopher Plummer), whose kind can't stand the sunlight. 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 reveals to be a storybook that a mother named Dory reads to her son, Edmond (Toby Scott Ganger). Edmund grows concerned when his farm becomes flooded from the rain. When Edmond's father, Frank calls the family to help save the farm, his mother forbids Edmond to go out and help his two older brothers, Scott and Mark. Edmond realizes that Chanticleer is the answer to the problem and yells for him, only to summon the Duke himself. The Duke turns Edmond into a kitten for trying to interfere with his plans. Just as the Duke is about to devour Edmond, he is saved by Patou (Phil Harris) the basset hound who attacks the Duke and Edmond drives the Duke off with a flashlight, as light is the owls' only weakness. Edmond also meets a magpie named Snipes (Eddie Deezen) and a mouse named Peepers (Sandy Duncan) who do not believe Edmond was once a human boy but tell him they are journeying to the city to find Chanticleer. While the rest of the animals stay at Edmond's farm, Edmond, along with Patou, Snipes and Peepers sail to the city in a trunk. The Duke sends his nephew Hunch (Charles Nelson Reilly) to stop the crew from reaching the city, but Hunch fails to catch them.
Once they reach the city, they discover Chanticleer has taken the moniker "The King" in an Elvis-style show where he sings for an audience. As a distraction, his manager Pinkie Fox (Sorrell Booke), who had been hired by the Duke to keep Chanticleer away from the farm, gets a chorus singer pheasant named Goldie (Ellen Greene) to distract him. Chanticleer is immediately smitten with Goldie, but she resents him for taking the public's attention away from her. When Edmond tries to talk to Goldie about Chanticleer, she mistakes him for the bad kitty told by Pinkie and chases him away. After a time, Goldie begins to reciprocate Chanticleer's feelings and tells him that his friends had come to find him. In the meantime, Edmond and the others were captured and imprisoned by Pinkie and his guards to keep them from contacting Chanticleer, and are locked in his trailer. Pinkie turns on Goldie for informing Chanticleer of what has happened and blackmails Chanticleer with the possible threat of killing his friends into continuing with his movie. Edmond and the others manage to escape though, (thanks to Hunch's intervention) and with Goldie and Chanticleer in tow, they make their way back to the farm. The Duke and his minions have been waiting on the farm animals' supply of batteries to run out on their flashlight. They nearly make a meal out of them, but are driven away by the spotlight of the helicopter Edmond and the others are flying.
Edmomd 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 tries to raise Chanticleer's spirit by chanting his name. Inspired by Edmond's selflessness and bravery, the other animals begin to chant Chanticleer's name in unison. Infuriated, the Duke transforms himself into a tornado to destroy the farm and the animals. However, Chanticleer finally regains his confidence and crows loud enough for the sun to rise, shrinking the Duke into a harmless pipsqueak. Hunch, eager for revenge towards all the abuse from his uncle, attacks him with a flyswatter.
The floods begin to subside. Believing that Edmond 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. Edmond awakens in his own room to his mother's voice, having been knocked unconscious by a tree that had crashed into his bedroom. He realizes it's morning and the sun had come out to save the farm from destruction. His mother suspects he had a dream, but Edmond is convinced it was real. After she leaves, Edmond, whose faith was restored in the characters, is now allowed to visit and watch as Chanticleer sings to raise the sun. As he is transported, all of his animal friends are happy to see him alive, well and human again.
- Glen Campbell as Chanticleer, the protagonist and 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. In a miserable state he goes to the city and becomes a popular singer. Through his manager Pinkie, he meets Goldie and falls in love at first sight with her. Soon though, his friends come to the city and apologize. He and Goldie are than brought back to the farm, so he can save it. He is also based on the superstar Elvis Presley.
- Toby Scott Ganger as Edmund, the son of a human farmer and the human protagonist of the film. 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. He slowly begins to learn the errors of his ways and he stops being afraid.
- 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.
- Phil Harris as Patou, a Basset Hound who's a good friend to both Chanticleer and Edmund and plays the narrator character of the story. He despises the Grand Duke and is dedicated to Edmund'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's last and final role before his retirement from acting and his death in 1995.
- Eddie Deezen as Snipes, a magpie. He, Edmund, 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 Edmund, but he tries to convince everyone that he used to be a boy. She was willing to forgive him for being a cat if he took her and the others to the city. 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 and the main antagonist of the film. He overhears Edmund'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 as exampled when he turns Edmund into his kitten form.
- 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. This is Booke's last and final role before his retirement from acting, and his death in 1994.
- Will Ryan as Stuey, a chronically nervous pig.
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 and Highway To Heaven 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.
However, the live action footage was filmed at MGM Studios in Hollywood, California, USA. When the live action footage was finished during the production, Goldcrest Films recruited Sullivan Bluth Studios. to animate the rest of the film. Sullivan Bluth Studios was animated in Burbank, California and Ireland. Chanticleer's girlfriend, Goldie the Pheasant, was designed to have attributes similar to Roger Rabbit's girlfriend, Jessica Rabbit (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 glass of wine with a transparent cup of soda in the "Kiss and Coo" sequence, and had to draw colored 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 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 a release on Christmas Day 1991 and selected The Samuel Goldwyn Company as the film's distributor. However, that date was further moved to April 1992 to avoid competition with Walt Disney Pictures and Walt Disney Feature Animation's Beauty and the Beast, and in another order to avoid competition with Universal Animation Studios and Amblin Entertainment's Fievel Goes West, This film is a sequel to An American Tail, in which Bluth, himself, 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, Edmund 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" - Glen Campbell
- "We Hate the Sun" - Christopher Plummer
- "Come Back to You" - Glen Campbell
- "Rock-a-Doodle" - Glen Campbell
- "Bouncers Theme Song" - The Don Bluth Players
- "Tweedle Te Dee" - Christopher Plummer
- "Treasure Hunting Fever" - Glen Campbell
- "Sink or Swim" - Ellen Greene
- "Kiss 'n Coo" - Glen Campbell and Ellen Greene
- "Back to the Country" - Glen Campbell
- "The Owls' Picnic" - Christopher Plummer
- "Tyin' Your Shoes" - Phil Harris
- "Sun Do Shine" (Reprise) - 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 Owls' Picnic" were all sung by a triple-tracked T.J. Kuenster. Robert Folk written the film's score and conducted the Irish Film Orchestra who performed the score.
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 history
Rock-a-Doodle was first released on VHS and Laserdisc on August 18, 1992, as well as on DVD on July 20, 1999 by HBO Video. 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.
- The copyright date of 1990 appears in the film's end credits, although it was not released until at least a year later.
- Gritten, David, ed. (2007). "Rock-a-Doodle". Halliwell's Film Guide 2008. Hammersmith, London: HarperCollins Publishers. p. 1005. ISBN 0-00-726080-6.
- Lenburg, Jeff (2009). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons Third Edition. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 0-8160-6599-3.
- Gary Goldman at donbluth.com
- "Rock-a-Doodle's Bluth Is Crowing Animatedly". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
- Hill, The "Chanticleer" Saga - Part Three
- Beck, Jerry (2005). "Rock*a*Doodle". The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Reader Press. pp. 233–4. ISBN 1-55652-591-5.
- "Rock-a-Doodle's Bluth is Crowing Animatedly". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
- Rock-a-Doodle at Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 26, 2007.
- Hill, Jim (August 2000). "The "Chanticleer" Saga - Part Three".
- Rock-a-Doodle at the Internet Movie Database
- Rock-a-Doodle at allmovie
- Rock-a-Doodle at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Rock-a-Doodle at Box Office Mojo
- Rock-a-Doodle at Rotten Tomatoes