Good grief! Charlie Brown is depressed at the commercialisation of Christmas, so in an unusual act of goodwill, Lucy Van Pelt – the psychiatrist and pint-sized harridan of the Peanuts adventures – invites him to direct the Nativity play.
In typical style, Charlie screws things up, but by the end of the day, he is filled with cheer as the gang reminds him and themselves of the true meaning of Christmas.
A Charlie Brown Christmas was the first time that the characters from the Peanuts comic strip (which appeared in over 800 US newspapers and 40 foreign countries) had moved and spoken. Voices were selected from auditions of more than 50 young actors aged five and up. A major difficulty evolved from the fact that most youngsters in the Peanuts age group could not read.
Cathy Steinberg, who voiced the character of Sally Brown, had not learned to read at the time of production and had to be fed her lines, often a word or syllable at a time, which explains her rather choppy delivery.
The most memorable moment of the film belongs to Linus when he takes the spotlight to explain in his own inimitable way what Christmas really means. It’s poignant and heart-felt – a moment that remains touching no matter how many times you see it.
The 30-minute film required 2300 feet of 35mm animation, incorporating the 40,000 individual pictures that set the characters in motion. Jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi composed a special score for the animated film.
A Charlie Brown Christmas won an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program in 1966. It’s a holiday staple you will never get tired of.
Lucy Van Pelt
Linus Van Pelt