Rankin Bass originally planned to release Willy McBean and his Magic Machine as 260 television episodes in 1961 but instead opted to save the character and storylines for a 1965 feature film.
Produced in “Animagic”, the film tells the story of Willy McBean, a young schoolboy who teams up with a Spanish/English-speaking monkey named Pablo to prevent villainous evil scientist Rasputin Von Rotten from changing the history of the world (copying Von Rotten’s time machine from plans which Pablo stole from his lab).
The time machines do not work perfectly and everyone ends up with General Custer, escaping just moments before Custer is killed. They then arrive in the Wild West, where they meet Buffalo Bill Cody and his Indian pal, Sitting Bull.
Von Rotten plans to become the fastest gun in the west and challenges Buffalo Bill to a showdown. Fortunately, both guns are sabotaged before anyone can be shot.
Von Rotten moves onto his next target, Christopher Columbus (who bizarrely has a New York Italian accent). Disguised as a Chinese trader, he convinces Columbus’s crew that they should mutiny.
Once more McBean and Pablo stop the evil professor by showing the crew that land is not far off.
After that, Von Rotten goes back to visit King Arthur in the kingdom of Camelot, but Pablo and Willy get weak and weedy Arthur to pull Excalibur the magic sword that can talk. A talking green dragon then crashes into Camelot in an effort to eat everyone, but King Arthur and Excalibur are able to drive him away.
After a quick diversion to the Roman Colosseum, Willy and Pablo later go to Ancient Egypt to stop Von Rotten from building the Great Pyramid. Then they go back to prehistoric times to encourage cavemen to discover fire and invent the wheel before Von Rotten.
Professor Rasputin Von Rotten
Larry D. Mann (voice)
Billie Mae Richards (voice)
Pablo the Monkey/King Ferdinand
Paul Soles (voice)
Buffalo Bill Cody/The Dragon
Alfie Scopp (voice)
Paul Kligman (voice)
King Tut, Ned the Caveman
Bunny Cowan (voice)
Arthur Rankin Jr