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Pete's Dragon (1977)

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An orphan boy and his magical dragon come to town with his abusive adoptive parents in pursuit.

Directors:

Don Chaffey, Don Bluth (uncredited)

Writers:

Malcolm Marmorstein (screenplay), Seton I. Miller (story) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
3,204 ( 599)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Helen Reddy ... Nora
Jim Dale ... Dr. Terminus
Mickey Rooney ... Lampie
Red Buttons ... Hoagy
Shelley Winters ... Lena Gogan
Sean Marshall Sean Marshall ... Pete
Jane Kean ... Miss Taylor
Jim Backus ... The Mayor
Charles Tyner ... Merle
Gary Morgan ... Grover
Jeff Conaway ... Willie
Cal Bartlett ... Paul
Charlie Callas ... Elliott (voice)
Walter Barnes ... Captain
Al Checco ... Fisherman #1
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Storyline

In early-20th-century New England in the early 20th century, 9-year-old orphan Pete escapes his brutal adoptive parents, the Gogans, with his only friend, a cartoon dragon named Elliott. They successfully escape to Passamaquoddy, Maine and live with lighthouse-keeper Nora and her father Lampie, but the corrupt Dr. Terminus seeks Elliott for medical purposes. Written by Matthew Anscher <ansch002@acpub.duke.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

His name is Elliott. He's 20 feet high, 40 feet long. He can become invisible at the drop of a hat, or spew red hot flames. In fact, there's only one way to bring this awesome beast under control... rub his tummy. See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 November 1977 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pete y Elliot el Dragon See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$39,588,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$39,588,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby (RCA Photophone Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film's musical score and songs are considered to be anachronistic and out of place for the time and setting of the film where shanties and other period music would have more authenticity. This is because both producers and song writers agreed that the modern pop vocal style of Helen Reddy would make the film far more appealing to a broad audience. See more »

Goofs

In the cave scene, the tic-tac-toe design moves from Elliot's chest down to his belly when Pete draws a line. Then it jumps back to his chest when Pete leaves with Nora. See more »

Quotes

Merle: [the Gogans have returned and want to take Pete away from Nora] Okay lady, we're gonna take him whether you like it or not. Right boys?
Grover: Right, Pa. Willie, you grab onto Pete, while I hold onto her.
Willie: You grab Pete, I wanna hold her.
Grover: I wanna hold her!
Willie: I'm gonna hold her!
[Willie and Grover push each other]
Merle: [separates them] Alright, I'll settle this: You two grab the brat, I'LL hold her.
Lena Gogan: If you think you're gonna hold her, like my boys wanna hold her, you're gonna be holdin' your head, ya understand?
See more »

Alternate Versions

This Disney film has a troubled history as far as the many different versions released over the years. It originally ran 134 minutes. After its premiere engagement in Hollywood, it was cut down to 121 minutes before it premiered in New York. When it was released in Europe, it ran 105 minutes, with the following edits: -"Candle on the Water" (which survived only as an instrumental passage over the credits replacing the original overture) and "The Happiest Home in These Hills" were eliminated entirely. -Verses from "I Saw A Dragon," "Passamashloddy," "There's Room For Everyone," and "Every Little Piece" were cut. -21 scenes were shortened. This version was used for the original home video release in 1980, while every video since then has run 128 minutes, restoring the songs and the majority of dramatic material. However, when Disney re-released it in theaters, it was the European cut. Even further cuts were made for the TV version of the film, which premiered on "The Disney Sunday Movie" in 1986. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Disneyland: Secrets, Stories, & Magic (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

I Saw a Dragon
(uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn
Sung by Mickey Rooney, Helen Reddy, and Ensemble
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Generally unsatisfactory musical numbers blend in with the other major flaws
16 April 2011 | by Electrified_VoltageSee all my reviews

I remember at one point in my childhood, I heard about a movie called "Pete's Dragon", maybe when it was about to come on TV, and also remember seeing some of it, though I can't remember how much I saw. There was another part of the film I remember seeing some years later (the part where the Dr. Terminus character manages to win over the initially angry people), but I didn't know what movie I was seeing. After many years, I could still remember the title of this mostly live action Disney film (but one with a cartoon dragon), and finally decided to watch it from start to finish this week. It's far from one of the most highly regarded Disney productions in the long history of the company, and I wasn't expecting it to be among the great ones, but I was expecting it to be better than I found it to be, which is not good at all for the most part.

With the help of his magical dragon, Elliott, a young orphaned boy named Pete manages to escape from his cruel adoptive family, the Gogans, but they are still determined to find him somehow or other. The boy and his dragon friend travel together and soon come to a village called Passamaquoddy. Before they enter, Pete tells Elliott that he must make himself invisible (a magical power of his) in order to avoid scaring the people, so the dragon reluctantly does so, but even in his invisible form, he soon causes a lot of trouble in the village, and since nobody can see him, it looks like Pete is responsible! After Pete gets away from an angry mob and Elliott scares Lampie, the drunken lighthouse keeper, the two of them go to a cave near the lighthouse, where Nora, Lampie's daughter, finds Pete and decides to give him shelter in her home. He often talks to her about Elliott, and she doesn't believe that this dragon actually exists, but plays along. Unfortunately, the dragon continues to cause trouble for Pete, and the village of Passamaquoddy has another problem when medicine showman Dr. Terminus and his assistant, Hoagy, are back to swindle the villagers again with their fraudulent formulas!

This live action/animation crossover is a musical, and unfortunately, the songs generally don't have much effect. I think this already shows with the first song, sung by the Gogans as they pursue Pete, but it gets worse after the boy and his dragon friend get away from them and we hear the next musical number, "Boo Bop Bopbop Bop (I Love You, Too)". During this song, I felt like I was watching something strictly for the very young. Basically, the rest of the songs also fail, including the "I Saw a Dragon" one featured in the part where Lampie tells the people in the tavern what he saw, a notably clumsy segment of the film. The musical numbers are only one of the significant flaws in the film. Most of the cast performances failed to impress me, especially Jane Kean overacting in the role of Miss Taylor, the strict teacher of the village. It doesn't seem that Sean Marshall, who plays the title character, was a very good child actor. "Pete's Dragon" does have some pretty funny parts, but not enough to make it really work as a comedy, either. Also, while I certainly didn't find myself not caring what happened to any of the characters, I still didn't find most of the story too entertaining for some reason, but that might have been largely because of the other problems.

This is a mainly live action family musical, and maybe I'm not usually into movies like this, but that hasn't stopped me from finding "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory", a live action family musical from six years before this one, to be a great film, so it's definitely not like "Pete's Dragon" would look bad to me regardless of quality. This particular Disney piece came out the same year as "The Rescuers", an all animated feature which disappointed me when I first saw it last year (I actually found its 1990 sequel, "The Rescuers Down Under", to be much better, as rare as that is with sequels and as much as many Disney fans would probably disagree), but even that film I found to be better than this very lacklustre live action/animation crossover. I gave "Pete's Dragon" a try, and realize that it has a following (not a huge one, but it is a following), but simply put, I just didn't like it. I guess I can still recommend it for kids and won't say adults should avoid it at all costs, but I also still think there are good reasons for all the criticism.


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