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The Hobbit (1977 film)

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The name The Hobbit refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see The Hobbit (disambiguation).
The Hobbit (1977 film) - Cover.jpg
The Hobbit
DirectorArthur Rankin, Jr.
Jules Bass
WriterRomeo Muller
StarringOrson Bean
Richard Boone
Hans Conried
John Huston
MusicMaury Laws (music)
Jules Bass (lyrics/lyrical adaptations)
DistributorNBC at Wikipedia (original transmission)
Warner Bros. (home video)
ReleasedNovember 27, 1977
Runtime77 minutes
Budget$3 million (est.)
IMDbIMDb Profile
The Hobbit was a 1977 animated television movie by Rankin/Bass Productions based on the book of the same name. It manages to retell most of the story within its 77-minute span. An LP with the soundtrack and dialog from the movie was also released in 1977 by Disney through its Buena Vista Records label, and, by popular demand, an edited version (along with accompanying "storyteller read-alongs") was later reissued for the Mouse Factory's Disneyland Records imprint.



Actor Role(s)
Orson Bean Bilbo Baggins
Richard Boone Smaug
Hans Conried Thorin
John Huston Gandalf the Grey
Otto Preminger The Elvenking
Cyril Ritchard Elrond
Brother Theodore Gollum
Paul Frees Bombur, Dwalin, Troll #1
Don Messick Balin, The Lord of the Eagles, Fíli, Kíli, Troll #3, Goblin guard
John Stephenson Dori, The Great Goblin, Bard
Jack DeLeon Nori, Bofur, various Dwarves & Goblins
Glenn Yarbrough vocalist
Thurl Ravenscroft (uncredited) background voices, ensemble vocalist

The film was produced and directed by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass and adapted for the screen by Romeo Muller; with Rankin taking on the additional duties of production designer, and Bass adapting some of Tolkien's original lyrics, as well as contributing, along with Maury Laws, an original theme song, "The Greatest Adventure (The Ballad of the Hobbit)," sung by Glenn Yarbrough.

The same team, along with Bean, Huston, Theodore, Frees, Messick, Stephenson, DeLeon, and Ravenscroft returned for the 1980 adaption of The Return of the King.


  1. "Bilbo's Visitors" (4:07)
  2. "Outlining the Adventure" (3:53)
  3. "Credits" (2:20)
  4. "Troublesome Trolls" (3:35)
  5. "Lonely Mountain Map" (3:06)
  6. "Elves of Rivendell" (3:04)
  7. "Goblin Attack" (3:33)
  8. "Gollum's Riddler" (6:20)
  9. "Follow the leader" (4:28)
  10. "Funny Little Things" (2:12)
  11. "Flown to Mirkwood" (2:36)
  12. "Forest Diary" (3:04)
  13. "Spider's Web" (1:19)
  14. "Sting Strikes" (2:00)
  15. "Wood Elves" (2:50)
  16. "Laketown" (2:04)
  17. "Secret Doorway" (2:09)
  18. "Smaug's Lair" (4:14)
  19. "Weak Spot" (4:31)
  20. "Black Arrow's Mark" (3:08)
  21. "Treasure Clash" (2:59)
  22. "Five Armies Meet" (4:42)
  23. "Farewell, Thorin" (2:07)
  24. "Only Beginning" (1:50)
  25. "End Credits" (0:56)

Critical Reaction

The movie was first broadcast on NBC at Wikipedia in the United States, on November 27, 1977, and was tailored to children: the story was done in a very light-hearted style, and featured a lot of songs (most of which came from the book). Much of the story was simplified and several key parts are omitted.

The art is both praised and criticized. Some reviewers regard it as a strong point of the movie. Inaccuracies in the depictions draws a lot of criticism from Tolkien fans: Gandalf has a hood instead of a hat, despite clearly being described in the book; Gollum looks like some sort of frog-creature (though the book does describe his large eyes and webbed feet); Elrond has a beard despite the book outright saying that Elves do not have beards; the Wood-elves, rather than being the "fair folk," are almost as ugly as the goblins (and the Elvenking has a thick German accent); Smaug is extremely hairy for being a dragon.

In 1977, NBC, Rankin and Bass won a Peabody Award for The Hobbit[1]. The movie was also nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1978, but lost to Star Wars.

Differences from the book

While the movie is quite faithful to the story, it is at its core still a child-oriented musical adaptation, and therefore not a perfect adaptation of Tolkien's novel. Most of the changes are found as omissions rather than modifications of the plot.

  1. All the Dwarves show up with Gandalf all at once in the film rather than coming in groups the day after Gandalf meets Bilbo and puts a mark on his door.
  2. The company leaves Bilbo's house on ponies, but after that the ponies are not seen until they are lost in crossing the Misty Mountains. In the book, the company rode ponies from Bag End to Rivendell.
  3. Bilbo is noticed by the Trolls as he sneaks up to steal some meat rather than disclosed by the Trolls' "talking" purse.
  4. The Dwarves flee in terror from the Trolls and are picked up one at a time instead of walking blindly into the camp and being ambushed (except for Thorin, who puts up a fight).
  5. Gandalf apparently has the power to make the dawn come earlier in dispatching the Trolls rather than tricking them by throwing his voice.
  6. The Troll cave does not have a locked door like in the book.
  7. Gandalf gives Thorin the Map of Thrór and the key in the troll cave rather than back at Bag End.
  8. Up in the mountains, there are no stone giants playing games amidst the storm.
  9. Gandalf is missing in the cave when the goblins emerge, rather than sleeping when it happens. The Dwarves run into the tunnel rather than being grabbed.
  10. The Dwarves do not fight the goblins in the tunnel.
  11. Bilbo specifically asked Gollum what he has in his pocket rather than muttering it aloud to himself. Gollum does not even try to guess instead of demanding three guesses. Only four riddles are said in the movie (there were ten in the book).
  12. Bilbo pulls the ring out of his pocket after Gollum says he's looking for his "golden ring, magical ring".
  13. Bilbo has no trouble getting out the back door (no goblins to sneak by or tight spots to fit through).
  14. Rather than meet the Wargs in the forest, the goblins come with them, riding on them and wielding torches (despite the Wargs' fear of fire in the book).
  15. The Great Eagles do not take the company to their eyries, but to the edge of Mirkwood, bypassing Beorn (who does not appear in the movie).
  16. The incident at the enchanted river, including Bombur's magical sleep, is omitted.
  17. The feasts of the Wood-elves are omitted (yet are referred to when the Wood-elves capture the Dwarves).
  18. Bilbo has to fight and kill only four spiders rather than dozens and dozens. Bilbo's sword, Sting, always glows in the movie regardless of whether goblins are nearby or not.
  19. Thorin is captured with the other Dwarves by the spiders and then the Wood-elves.
  20. There is no stop over from the journey via barrels from the Wood-elves' castle to Lake-town.
  21. There is no Master in Laketown; Bard the guardsman runs the city.
  22. The company does not make camp at the base of the mountain.
  23. Balin does not go with Bilbo into the secret entrance.
  24. Bilbo has only one audience with Smaug and the thrush is present. Bilbo orders the thrush to seek Bard to tell him of Smaug's weakness.
  25. The Arkenstone and all that goes with it is omitted.
  26. Roäc the raven is omitted. In the book, the ravens tell the Dwarves that Smaug is slain and is sent to Dáin to call for assistance. In the movie, the Dwarves wait, lost inside the Lonely Mountain for a week and it is never explained why Dáin arrives at such an opportune moment.
  27. The company discovers the two armies coming when they are on the doorstep rather than being warned in advance.
  28. Since the Arkenstone is omitted, Thorin instead loses respect for Bilbo through his supposed lack of understanding of honor and war.
  29. Thorin and the dwarves plan a suicidal last stand against the elves and men in a pitched battle outside the mountain and are pleasantly surprised when Dáin's army arrives.
  30. Ravenhill is not mentioned.
  31. The armies in the Battle of the Five Armies are divided differently (Bilbo counts the Goblins and Wargs as one army; the Eagles are counted as a separate army).
  32. Beorn is not present in the Battle of Five Armies. Also, Bolg is never mentioned nor seen.
  33. In the book, only Thorin, Fíli and Kíli die from the battle, leaving 10 survivors from Thorin's company. In the movie, Thorin, Bombur and five other unnamed dwarves are all killed. (In fact, Bombur was one of the few Dwarves in the quest known to be still alive in the days of The Lord of the Rings.) Glóin is the only other dwarf whose fate is officially revealed in the movie, as he is seen covering up Thorin with a blanket after he dies. Another dwarf (who does not clearly resemble anyone from the company) then lays Orcrist on top of Thorin's body. It's possible that this could be Dáin.
  34. Most of the return journey, including winter at Beorn's home, a stop at Rivendell, and digging up gold they buried by the troll camp, is omitted.
  35. The auction back at Bag End is omitted.
  36. Gandalf and Balin's visit to Bag End years later is omitted.


At the end of the film, Gandalf reveals to Bilbo that he is not only aware of Bilbo's ring, but knows that it is in fact the One Ring, and foreshadows the events of The Lord of the Rings. In the books, the ring is not discovered to be the One Ring until The Fellowship of the Ring. Such an indication would lead one to believe that Rankin/Bass was always intending to do a follow-up using story elements from The Lord of the Rings. Indeed, production had already begun on their adaptation of The Return of the King before The Hobbit had even originally aired[2]. However, it remains a mystery as to whether or not their plans for what story elements from The Lord of the Rings were originally intended for inclusion in this follow-up were at all affected by the 1978 theatrical adaptation by Ralph Bakshi, which was also in production at that point.

External Links

Licensed film adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's works
The Hobbit (1966) · The Hobbit (1977) · The Lord of the Rings (1978) · The Return of the King (1980) · The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) · The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) · The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) · The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) · The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) · The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)