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A movie directed by Charles A. Nichols and Iwao Takamoto

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Wilbur is Radiant

  • Apr 21, 2000
  • by
Pros: Classic, Music, to hear Paul Lynde again

Cons: I do not see this at the stores very often

This is the very first video I have purchased for our family’s video library. We now have two copies of this classic tale.

My two special needs boys are preschoolers and we have had the video for almost three years now.

We bought the first one at Kmart and last year when I joined Columbia House I noticed it was one of the selections, so I snagged it for a buck in case the one we had got worn out. The video is from 1972 and features the voices of the late Paul Lynde as the rat Templeton, and Debbie Reynolds as Charlotte the spider.

The movie is about Fern and her family and farm life. Fern’s father is about to kill the little runt who was just born at day break, when Fern decides she will save him from his doom and raises the pig.

She names him “Wilbur” and has a birthday party for him after a few weeks and takes him for a walk in a carriage to visit her friend Henry Fussy. Henry has to play the violin and has never had a pet. It is funny to see Henry’s mother shoo Wilbur out of the house.

Fern’s father decides it is time for Wilbur to be a pig and sells him to Uncle Homer’s farm down the road. Fern sings a song when Wilbur is taken away and then he arrives at Uncle Homer’s and meets the other animals. He learns to talk and there is a nice song about that and then the Geese and the Rat tell Wilbur that he will be made into ham and bacon come spring.

Well Wilbur does not like this and is very sad when Charlotte sings a song and tells him to go to sleep and she will see him in the morning. A cute segment of Wilbur trying to spin a web and then they think of a way to save his life. That is what the story then focuses on.

Charlotte has a tough time sending Templeton to the dump to get pieces of paper to find something to write in her web and the townsfolk come and see all the web drawings and Wilbur becomes famous and even Henry and his Mother come to see and then Uncle Homer decides he will enter Wilbur in the county fair.

So Edith, Homer’s wife decides to give Wilbur a butter milk bath and the Goose does a nice song to Templeton about what kinds of foods there are to eat at a fair. It is a smorgasbord and a feast as told in the song.

Also there is a little one named Jeffrey born to the Goose and he becomes attached to Wilbur and cannot go to the fair.

It is very nice and a good story about the growing friendship of the animals and how they all band together to save Wilbur. Also a nice story about Fern and Henry and they meet again at the fair. Henry was sent to his Uncle’s house and had some fun like other boys do. Wilbur is saddened by Fern growing closer to Henry and Charlotte explains to him that Fern thinks Henry is radiant and is growing up now and will always love Wilbur.

The best prize does not go to Wilbur but a huge pig. Wilbur has the satisfaction that he will not be turned into ham and bacon. Homer is keeping him as a pet. Charlotte laid her eggs and lost her strength in the end after saving Wilbur’s life.

Templeton got drunk with food and other things and saved the best of eggs and they hid it for the ride back to the barn.

Then they showed the seasons change and all the animals had their newborns and the eggs hatched and they all left except for a few small ones and Wilbur helped name them and they all lived at the farm.

What a beautiful story and refreshing to hear the voices and sing the songs that I know so well. The color is very good for being a movie from 1972.

This is one for the video library for all families.


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More Charlotte's Web reviews
review by . July 16, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
E.B. White's tender story of life, love and loss has never been more eloquently-told than in this classic animated musical version of CHARLOTTE'S WEB, now finally on DVD. It's the story of Wilbur the Pig, and his amazing friendship with Charlotte, a spider who decides to help him when it's revealed that Wilbur is to be fattened for slaughter. Charlotte and her web may just hold the key to Wilbur's salvation. Henry Gibson and Debbie Reynolds add wonderful layers to the roles of Wilbur and Charlotte …
About the reviewer
Bonnie Sayers ()
Ranked #386
single parenting two teens on autism spectrum. Working out daily, Zumba & Bodybugg enthusiast.
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About this movie


This animated feature based on the popular E.B. White book for children--about the special relationships between Wilbur the pig, Charlotte the spider, and Templeton the rat--is a straight adaptation from the page, with songs added. Endearing, heartbreaking, and ultimately wise, it may not please all of those with a strong attachment to the book, but it works all the same.--Tom Keogh
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Screen Writer: E.B. White, Earl Hamner Jr.
DVD Release Date: June 19, 2001
Runtime: 94 minutes
Studio: Paramount
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