E.J. Gold's Galaxy Ezine: Science Fiction, Fantasy . . .
The J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy classic set in Middle-earth was adapted into this excellent 1977 animated feature first broadcast on television. Codirectors Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr., working from a script by Romeo Muller, are faithful to Tolkien's story and for that alone they get big points. The vocal cast can't be improved upon: Orson Bean is perfect as Bilbo Baggins, the timorous hobbit who grows brave on his adventure with the wizard Gandalf (John Huston). Otto Preminger is the voice of Elvenking, Richard Boone is Smaug, Hans Conreid is Thorin, and Brother Theodore is very effective as the weird Gollum.
The original concept of what a fantasy might really be has since this time been lost, engulfed in violent sexual romantic fiction. Tolkien would be horrified at the present state of fantasy fiction.