The Hobbit (1978)

Rating: ***
Cast: Orson Bean, John Huston, Hans Conreid

This Rankin/Bass animated adventure is a lot of fun, and is a good adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's masterpiece series. The animation is a bit sloppy, but the character designs are warm and friendly, and the voice talent is top notch. Mild mannered hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Orson Bean) gets talked into joining a party of dwarves who wish to reclaim their ancestor's treasure from a nasty dragon named Smaug. They run into all sorts of perils on the way: goblins, trolls, wolves, wood elves, and giant spiders to name a few. The dragon is defeated, but several armies show up to claim the treasure and a monstrous and bloody battle ensues. Pretty hardcore and scary stuff for what is considered a kid's show, but it appeals to all ages.