The Phantom Tollbooth (film)

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The Phantom Tollbooth
The Phantom Tollbooth Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by Chuck Jones
Screenplay by
  • Chuck Jones
  • Sam Rosen
Based on The Phantom Tollbooth
by Norton Juster
Music by Dean Elliott
Cinematography Lester Shorr
Edited by William Faris
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • November 7, 1970 (1970-11-07)
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Phantom Tollbooth, also known as The Adventures of Milo in the Phantom Tollbooth, is a 1970 live-action/animated film based on Norton Juster's 1961 children's book The Phantom Tollbooth. This film was produced by Chuck Jones at MGM Animation/Visual Arts and stars Butch Patrick as Milo with the voice talents of Mel Blanc, Daws Butler, Candy Candido, Hans Conried, June Foray, Patti Gilbert, Shepard Menken, Cliff Norton, Larry Thor, and Les Tremayne. Jones also directed the film, save for the live action bookends directed by fellow Warner Bros. Cartoons alum Dave Monahan. The film was released to theaters by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on November 7, 1970, and was the last MGM feature film release to include both live-action and animated segments. Completed by 1968, the film was held up for release by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer until late 1970 due to internal problems. The animation studio closed soon after the film's release, with MGM leaving the animation business for good. Juster had no input into the adaptation, and has expressed his hatred for the film in an interview: "It was a film I never liked. I don't think they did a good job on it. It's been around for a long time. It was well reviewed, which also made me angry."[1]


Milo, a bored boy who lives in a San Francisco apartment block, is surprised by the sudden arrival of a large, gift-wrapped package. Inside is a tollbooth, which turns out to be a gateway into a magical parallel universe. As Milo passes through the tollbooth, the character moves from live action to animation, and his toy car transports him to the enchanted Kingdom of Wisdom in the Lands Beyond, and the states of Dictionopolis (kingdom of words) and Digitopolis (kingdom of mathematics).

Accompanied by Tock, a "watchdog" who actually has a large pocketwatch in his body, Milo has a series of adventures in places like the Doldrums, Dictionopolis, Digitopolis, the Mountains of Ignorance, and the Castle in the Air. Together they must rescue the Princesses Rhyme and Reason, who are being held captive in the Castle in the Air, and restore order to the Kingdom of Wisdom. The many eccentric characters they meet include the Whether Man, the Humbug, the Spelling Bee, the noisy Dr. Kakofonous A. Dischord, King Azaz the Unabridged, the Mathemagician, and Officer Short Shrift as well as demons like the Senses Taker, the Demon of Insincerity, the Terrible Trivium, and the Gelatinous Giant.



  • Mel Blanc as Officer Short Shrift, The Dodecahedron, The Demon of Insincerity, Lethargians, Letter Vendor, Ministers
  • Daws Butler as The Whether Man, The Senses Taker, The Terrible Trivium, The Gelatinous Giant
  • Candy Candido as The Awful DYNNE
  • Hans Conried as King Azaz the Unabridged, The Mathemagician
  • June Foray as Princess of Pure Reason, Faintly Macabre the Which
  • Patti Gilbert as Princess of Sweet Rhyme
  • Shep Menkin as Spelling Bee, Chroma the Great
  • Cliff Norton as Dr. Kakofonous A. Dischord, Tollbooth Speaker
  • Larry Thor as Tock
  • Les Tremayne as Humbug, Poetic Words Vendor


  • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Presents
  • A Chuck Jones Production
  • Produced in assocation with: Sib-Tower 12 Productions, Inc.
  • "The Phantom Tollbooth"
  • Narrated by: Laurent de Brunhoff
  • Featuring Butch Patrick as Milo
  • Voices: Mel Blanc, Daws Butler, Candy Candido, Hans Conried, June Foray, Patti Gilbert, Shep Menken, Cliff Norton, Larry Thor, Les Tremayne
  • Cast: June Foray, Mike Davis, Chuck Jones
  • Songs "Milo's Song", "Time is a Gift", "Word Market", "Numbers Are the Only Thing That Count" and "Rhyme and Reason Reign" - Music by: Lee Pockriss - Lyrics by: Norman Gimbel and Norman L. Martin
  • Music Score by: Dean Elliott
  • Song Underscore by: Lee Pockriss
  • More Songs "Don't Say There's Nothing to Do in the Doldrums" and "Noise, Noise, Beautiful Noise" - Music by: Lee Pockriss - Lyrics by: Paul Vance and Norman L. Martin
  • Orchestra Conducted by: Eric Rogers
  • Additional Music and Arrangements by: Artie Butler
  • Music Recording Engineer: Eric A. Thomlinson
  • Music Recording/Mix: Evergreen Studios, Burbank, California
  • Supervising Animators: Ben Washam, Hal Ambro, George Nicholas
  • Animation: Irven Spence, Bill Littlejohn, Richard Thompson, Tom Ray, Philip Roman, Alan Zaslove, Ed Aardal, Ed DeMattia, Xenia, Lloyd Vaughan, Carl Bell
  • Production Design by: Maurice Noble
  • Checkers: Buf Nerbovig, Carole Barnes, Ted Bemiller
  • Ink and Paint Supervisor: Auril Thompson
  • Animation Camera: Jack Stevens
  • Typographics: Don Foster
  • Layout: Tony Rivera, Don Morgan, Oscar Dufau, Rosemary O'Connor, Corny Cole, Phyllis Graham
  • Backgrounds: Philip DeGuard, Irving Wyner, Robert McIntosh
  • in Metrocolor
  • © MCMLXIX by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. All Rights in This motion picture Reserved Under International Conventions.
  • The events, characters and firms depicted in the photoplay are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or firms, is purely coincidental.
  • Approved No. 21696 Motion Picture Association of America
  • Live Action Sequences:
    • Director of Photography: Lester Shorr, A.S.C.
    • Art Directors: George W. Davis, Charles Hagedon
    • Set Decoration: Henry Grace, Chuck Pierce
    • Unit Production Manager: Roger Vreeland
    • Assistant Director: Charles Bonniwell Jr.
    • Make-Up by: William Tuttle
    • Camera Operator: James V. King
  • Film Editor: Jim Faris
  • Recording Supervisor: Franklin Milton
  • Sound Mixers: Lovell Norman, Larry Jost, Bill Edmondson, Van Allen James, Lyle Cain
  • Production Manager: Earl Jonas
  • Assistant Production Manager for MGM: Lindsley Parsons Jr.
  • A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Picture
  • This Picture Made Under the Jurisdiction of IATSE-IA Affiliated with A.F.L.-C.I.O.
  • Screenplay by: Chuck Jones and Sam Rosen
  • Based on the book by: Norton Juster
  • Co-Produced by: Abe Levitow and Les Goldman
  • Produced by: Chuck Jones
  • Live Action Sequences Directed by: David Monahan
  • Directed by: Chuck Jones and Abe Levitow
  • "The Phantom Tollbooth" THE END An MGM Picture Made in Hollywood, U.S.A.

Home release[edit]

The film was released in VHS, Betamax, CED, and LaserDisc formats in 1980s by MGM/UA Home Video. In 2011 it was released in a remastered DVD edition by Warner Archive Collection.[2] The DVD is matted in similar manner as Tom and Jerry: The Chuck Jones Collection.


Music by Lee Pockriss; lyrics by Norman Gimbel, Norman L. Martin and Paul Vance (two more songs) unless otherwise noted.[3]

  • "Milo's Song"
  • "Don't Say There's Nothing to Do in the Doldrums" (lyrics by Paul Vance)[3]
  • "Time Is a Gift"
  • "Noise, Noise, Beautiful Noise" (lyrics by Paul Vance)[3]
  • "Word Market"
  • "Numbers Are the Only Thing That Count"
  • "Rhyme and Reason Reign"

Differences between the book and the film[edit]

The following characters appear in the book and not in the film:

  • The Soundkeeper
  • The .58
  • Canby
  • Alec Bings
  • The Everpresent Wordsnatcher
  • The Triple Demons of Compromise
  • The Gross Exaggeration (though there is a possibility that the fused monster in the film that harmed Tock is that very creature)
  • The Dilemma (a creature with horns used for poking)

The only original character in the film is the Hideous Two-Faced Hypocrite.


The film was not a box office hit.[4] Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 100% of eight surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 7.2/10.[5] Time Out Paris wrote that the story has "too many lessons" but "some very nice ideas".[6] TV Guide rated it 3/4 stars and described it as "a charming film that combines some fairly sophisticated ideas [...] with cute and likable characters that are sure to grab a child's attention".[7] Tom Hutchinson of the Radio Times rated it 4/5 stars and wrote that the film has "wonderful ideas", but they are "likely to be a bit above the heads of very young children".[8]


In February 2010, director Gary Ross began development of a remake of The Phantom Tollbooth for Warner Bros., the current owner of the film. Alex Tse wrote the first draft.[9][10] As of August 2016, the remake has moved to TriStar Pictures, with Michael Vukadinovich writing the adaption.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stone, RoseEtta. "An Interview with Norton Juster, Author of The Phantom Tollbooth". Writing, Illustrating, and Publishing Children's Books: The Purple Crayon. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "The Phantom Tollbooth". Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c "The Phantom Tollbooth Soundtracks". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  4. ^ Natale, Richard (23 February 2002). "Chuck Jones, 89, dies". Variety. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  5. ^ "The Phantom Tollbooth (1969)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "The Phantom Tollbooth". Time Out Paris. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  7. ^ "The Phantom Tollbooth". TV Guide. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  8. ^ Hutchinson, Tom. "The Phantom Tollbooth". Radio Times. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Billington, Alex (February 17, 2010). "Gary Ross Bringing Phantom Tollbooth Back to the Big Screen". First Showing, LLC. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  10. ^ Billington, Alex (February 17, 2010). "Gary Ross Bringing Phantom Tollbooth Back to the Big Screen". First Showing LLC. Retrieved April 14, 2016. 
  11. ^

External links[edit]