Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1970s Phantom Tollbooth, The (1970)

Phantom Tollbooth, The (1970)

Chuck Jones’ adaptation of Norman Juster’s famed children’s book was his first feature film (and the first animated feature for MGM), but the animator had been mastering his craft for years with the likes of Bugs Bunny, Pepe Le Pew and Tom & Jerry.


Following Juster’s novel fairly closely, the film opens in live-action San Francisco, where a boy named Milo is flat-out bored.

The youngster’s ennui is lifted by the appearance of a mysterious tollbooth and a toy car in his bedroom.

Willing to try anything for a little excitement, Milo pays the toll and crosses the gate, in the process converting himself to animated form.

In this new cartoon world – which showed the powerful influence that Yellow Submarine (1968) had already had on mainstream animation techniques – Milo meets the friendly ‘watch’ dog Tock and learns of a war between the word kingdom of Dictionopolis and the number kingdom of Digitopolis.

To stop the battle, Milo goes on a quest to rescue the princesses Rhyme and Reason from the Mountain of Ignorance, hopefully learning a few lessons of his own along the way.


In making his first feature, Jones called on several of the voice talents that had helped make his cartoon shorts so memorable: June Foray, Daws Butler, Shepard Menken and Bugs Bunny himself, Mel Blanc.

For the role of Milo, Jones cast Butch Patrick, best known as Eddie Munster on TV’s The Munsters.

The “educational” nature of the film – which preaches the virtues of industry, logic, ‘sticking with it’ and paying attention at school – made it a tougher pill to swallow than contemporary efforts by Disney and others, but at least The Phantom Tollbooth had its heart (and head) in the right place.

Butch Patrick
Tock The Watchdog 
Larry Thor
Officer Short Shrift / Dodecahedron / Demon of Insincerity
Mel Blanc
Whether Man / Senses Taker / Terrible Trivium / Gelatinous Giant 
Daws Butler
Awful DYNN 
Candy Candido
King Azaz / The MathemaGician 
Hans Conried
Ralph / Faintly Macabre / Princess of Pure Reason 
June Foray
Princess of Sweet Rhyme
Patti Gilbert
Spelling Bee / Chroma The Great 
Shep Menken
Kakofonous A. Dischord / Tollbooth Speaker 
Cliff Norton
Les Tremayne

Chuck Jones
Abe Levitow
David Monohan