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Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown

Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown is an animated short directed and animated by Jim Reardon, who would later become director and storyboard consultant for The Simpsons. The cartoon was made in 1986 while he was at CalArts.

Synopsis

The Great Pumpkin puts a bounty on Charlie Brown's head, prompting the entire Peanuts cast to try and bump him off. Lucy tries to get Charlie Brown to kick a bomb disguised as a football, Schroeder dumps his (full-sized, not toy) piano on Charlie Brown's head, Snoopy bites off his hand (which gushes blood), the Kite Eating Tree falls on him, and Linus strangles him with his blanket.

Finally tired of running, Charlie Brown dons a mohawk and arms himself with a shotgun, submachine gun, and M16. He also adopts a thick Germanic accent, reminiscent of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and systematically kills off the entire Peanuts cast one by one. The film then goes on a strange montage in which Charlie Brown guns down scores of Mexican bandidos, a Wehrmacht machine gun nest behind which Adolf Hitler is painting a picture, and a fitness instructor (presumably Richard Simmons). This is followed by two biplanes colliding midair, Dagwood Bumstead getting kicked in the groin by his wife, Mickey Mouse getting hit over the head by a lead pipe, Rocky Balboa getting punched in the face by Popeye, and Godzilla squeezing Dr Pepper out of a giant soda can. It ends with Charlie Brown in bed with the Little Red-Haired Girl (who, fittingly, is not fully seen), turning out the light.

The song "Charlie Brown" by The Coasters plays over the ending credits (where it is incorrectly attributed to The Platters). The credits end with a note from Jim Reardon:

"The creator of this picture wishes to state that he does not in any way wish to tarnish or demean the beloved characters of Charles M. "Dutch" Schulz's comic strip, "Peanuts". No malice or damage to their goodwill was intended. So please don't sue me, because it will drag through the courts for years, and I haven't got a lawyer - and besides, you've already got half the money in the world, and I haven't got any. OK?"

References to other media

Jim Reardon makes several references to Sam Peckinpah films throughout the short. For example, the title itself - as well as the basic plot - is a play on Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. The Peanuts massacre is a major satire of the climax in Sam Peckinpah's classic film The Wild Bunch. There are slow motion death scenes intercut with rapid shots, much like Peckinpah's editing style. Lucy's death scene, in which she spins around with her revolver, is a copy of Herrera's death scene at the start of the gun battle. The sequence in which Lucy shoots at Charlie Brown from behind and he spins around screaming, "BITCH!" and kills her with a shotgun is word-for-word, shot-for-shot taken from the sequence where the prostitute shoots William Holden in the back. There is even a part where Charlie Brown waves his submachine around, screaming the famous Warren Oates scream, and we pan across several Mexican bandits being blown away. An interesting note is that Reardon actually uses sound bytes from the movie in these two previous scenes.

The references to Peckinpah are made even more clear at the end of the film when Reardon dedicates it to Sam "the man" Peckinpah.

There are some non-Peckinpah references made in the short, such as Charlie Brown's mohawk, a reference to Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. Reardon also identifies Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz as "Charles M. 'Dutch' Schulz", as in mobster Dutch Schultz.

Godzilla squeezing the giant Dr Pepper can is a reference to the then-recent Dr. Pepper ad campaign featuring Godzilla.

Cast and Credits

  • Charlie Brown - Etienne Badillo, Rich Moore, Mike Reardon, William Holden
  • Linus - Nate Kanfer
  • Lucy - Bret Haaland
  • Great Pumpkin - Jeff Pidgeon
  • Additional Voices - Ed Bell, Bruce Johnson, Mike Reardon, Bret Haaland
  • Narration - Rich Moore
  • "Aided and Abetted by" - Ed Bell, Dale Mcbeath, Bob Winquist, Mike Giaimo, Craig Smith, Bret Haaland, Nate Kanfer, Doug Frankel, Mike Reardon, Rich Moore, Russ Edmonds, Hal Ambro, Dan Hansen, Jim Ryan, Tony Fucile, Jeff Pidgeon, Bob McCrea, Sarge Morton, Mom, Eileen, and Beverly

External links

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