Episode 7 November 1970: The Phantom Tollbooth

Anna and Ben receive a mysterious package that sends them on a journey of critical analysis regarding Chuck Jones’ animated adaptation of The Phantom Tollbooth. They confer about educational theory, converse about mindless tasks, and chat about wordplay before being subjected to the demon that is the terrible Trivium, um, trivia contest.

Sources and References:

Jones refers to the character of Ralph as a “wet tennis shoe” in a 1968 interview with Mary Harrington Hall as recorded in Chuck Jones: Conversations. Juster’s negative reactions to the film are recorded in his interview with the presumably pseudonymous Rose Etta Stone and with Paul Barman for The AV Club.

The Kicktstarted documentary Beyond Expectations contains some excellent interviews and some screencaps of the notes and process that went into Juster’s collection of idioms that he chose to investigate or explode. Ben mentioned the character of The Humbug, and a video about his origins can be found on the official website for the documentary.

The recap minute came from Chuck Jones: Extremes and In-Betweens — A Life in Animation, which is currently both available on YouTube and Archive.org.

The poem “Cartoon Physics” is by Nick Flynn, the chapter about cartoon physics is in Karen Beckman’s Animating Film Theory, and the art installation featuring a Roomba, two pairs of pink horses, and approximately 2,000 science fiction novels is at the Kerstin Enghom Gallery in Vienna.

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