HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Iceman
Blue Sky
Tokyo Dragon Chef
Pittsburgh
12 Hour Shift
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Tesla
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
Tenet
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
Away
Soul
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Ava
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Alone
Climate of the Hunter
Farewell Amor
Let's Scare Julie
Okko's Inn
Shaolin vs. Wu Tang
Fatman
   
 
Newest Articles
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
   
 
  Willy McBean and His Magic Machine Tampering with time
Year: 1965
Director: Arthur Rankin Jr.
Stars: Larry D. Mann, Billie Mae Richards, Alfie Scopp, Paul Kligman, Bernard Cowan, Paul Soles, Peggi Loder, Bunny Cowan, Claude Ray, Corinne Connely, James Doohan
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Animated, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: As young Willy McBean (voiced by Billie May Richards) studies for a much-dreaded history test in through his bedroom window jumps Pablo (Paul Soles), a talking monkey with a crazy Spanish accent ("I'm a great Latin lover, cha-cha-cha!"). Having stolen secret plans from former boss, mad scientist Professor Rasputin Von Rotten (Larry D. Mann), Pablo convinces boy genius Willy to build a 'magical time-machine.' Together boy and monkey travel through time to stop Professor Von Rotten's scheme to make himself responsible for history's greatest inventions.

Rankin-Bass, the prolific studio co-founded by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass, dabbled in a variety of fields including cel animation and live action monster movies. Yet the studio's best-loved works remain their stop-motion animations, principally a long run of holiday-themed television specials - most notably: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) - although they also dabbled in feature films. Willy McBean and His Magic Machine was their first effort in the so-called Animagic process, co-produced with Japanese advertising company Dentsu with input from Japanese crew-men. Among them pioneering stop-motion animator Tadahito Mochinaga who worked on several Rankin-Bass productions. Unaccountably obscure compared with the likes of Mad Monster Party? (1967), Willy McBean... exhibits the same quirky charm and endearingly eccentric humour that characterize the best of their output.

No great fan of history, Willy laments should Professor Von Rotten alter the course of global events he will have to study all over again. To that end he and Pablo (whose vociferous boasts about being a 'great Latin lover' are a trifle unsettling to hear in a children's movie) travel to the old west to stop Professor from shooting Buffalo Bill and 1492 to ensure Christopher Columbus discovers America. Then it is on to England, 524 A.D. where King Arthur is a drippy nerd barely tolerated by his knights until Willy helps him pull Cockney voiced talking sword Excalibur from the stone. Ever-horny Pablo goes ga-ga for seductive witch Morgan La Fey before they tangle with an amusingly camp dragon ("devouring babes and living in caves is not my cup of tea!"). Following a scary stop at the Roman Colliseum it is off to Egypt where Professor Von Rotten aims to cement his name as history's greatest architect by building the pyramids. Finally in prehistoric times Willy tries to keep Von Rotten from taking credit for the discovery of fire while Pablo takes on an angry Tyrannosaurus Rex in a battle that is not as one-sided as one might expect. There's fire in that monkey.

As with the studio's following feature film The Daydreamer (1966) the plot leans towards the episodic yet remains lively and inventive. Sure, historical accuracy flies out the window but Arthur Rankin, who penned the script, concocts some clever and witty scenarios. Surprisingly for a family film from this period Willy McBean and His Magic Machine is fairly cynical about American history. Key historical figures like General Custer and Buffalo Bill are portrayed as self-aggrandizing buffoon and wily old rogue respectively. The script even alludes to Christopher Columbus' misadventures in the slave trade ("Look at all those Indians!"). Conversely it paints a fairly even-handed portrait of Sitting Bull even if he does partake in a pretty hilarious song-and-dance number with Buffalo Bill and argues about top-billing in the wild west show. The songs are not the timeless classics found in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer but engaging with genuinely funny lyrics. If the story lacks the disarming philosophical undertones found in the very best Rankin-Bass animations it at least skilfully avoids any heavy-handed moralizing. Instead it shows Willy subtly affecting historical change and even influencing adversaries by virtue of simply being a good kid.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1724 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
   

 

Last Updated: