Tim McCanlies and Harry Knowles discuss The Iron Giant and its hard road to completion. One wrote the screenplay for the movie, and the other wrote about the movie from afar. They touch on the genius of Brad Bird, removing a giant space bat from a rock opera, and the magic of animation, from Fleischer to Miyazaki.
15 years ago, The Iron Giant flopped at the box office, but it has become a beloved animated classic thanks to home video and cable. Share it with friends and family over the upcoming holiday weekend...or whenever it is you realize you know someone who hasn't seen it yet.
Make sure you've seen The Iron Giant before listening to this episode, which is full of spoilers.
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Show Notes and Links
- The Iron Man by Ted Hughes (the book the movie is based on) has a wide swath of differences with the final film according to Tim, including a somewhat less sympathetic lead and a battle with an Australia-size giant space bat on the sun.
- Quint, Hooper, and Chief Brody comparing scars.
- I couldn't find the Amazing Stories episode of Family Dog on YouTube, but I did find someone who ripped the first episode of the not-so-ongoing (but great!) show from the Laserdisc.
- One of my favorite episodes from the first season of The Simpsons, "Krusty Gets Busted", was directed by Brad Bird.
- I wish I could tell you why Dancer, Texas Pop. 81 isn't available on Blu-ray. The Iron Giant for that matter, too.
- The "giant teenage boys" TV commercial for The Iron Giant.
- Assembling a chronology of Ain't It Cool's coverage of Iron Giant, the earliest surviving post I can find is from March and then August of 1998. Then December. Drew McWeeny (as "Moriarty") wrote a review in February 1999. This article links to an interview with Brad Bird that seems to be lost to time. In April, they linked to some model sheets that have since disappeared. Harry reviewed an in-progress version of the movie that June. On August 1st, they made a mega-post that compiled a bunch of reader-submitted reviews from advance screenings just in advance of the August 6th general release. Two days later, a new post with more reader reviews, and Harry's review of the finished movie. On August 27th, Harry called out the then-head of Marketing at Warner Bros. Man alive, they must have annoyed the ever-loving shit out of WB.
- Five years ago, Fire Talk With Me's Jeremy Smith attended a 10th Anniversary "celebration" (no screening) and wrote up the experience, of a Q&A with Brad Bird and members of his art, animation, and story teams.
- This is the most I know about Ray Gunn, the Brad Bird project that died in the early stages of production.
- Do not be tempted by the awful, awful, awful "Blu-ray" of Max Fleischer's Superman that Gaiam (a company best-known for their yoga mats and videos) "restored" a couple of years ago.
- You can feel Bird and McCanlies' mutual love of 101 Dalmatians and The Black Stallion in the final product of The Iron Giant.
- Leonard Maltin's Of Mice and Magic is one of the best-written books on American animation out there. Even though the hardcover looks cheaper, that's of the old edition. The paperback is updated and revised.
- Disney's Nine Old Men are worth knowing about.
- Frank and Ollie is a wonderful documentary about Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, directed by Frank's son. The DVD includes a director's commentary, home movies, and examples of their earliest work at Disney, among other extras.
- Frank and Ollie have a website that is still maintained after their passing.
- What Harry and Tim refer to as "BNAT" is Butt-Numb-A-Thon, an annual 24-hour movie marathon hosted by Harry. Each year, the lineup is completely secret in advance.
- A couple of years ago, I placed the newly-restored, brand-new print of Porco Rosso into the BNAT lineup.
- Early Max Fleischer, like Hoppity Goes to Town and Gulliver's Travels, are just magical, and most people these days haven't seen them.
- Thunderbean Animation released a Blu-ray of Gulliver's Travels recently that includes eight classic Fleischer shorts.
- This is the best quality version of Hoppity Goes to Town (aka Mr. Bug Goes to Town) that I could find on YouTube.
- Harry also loves George Pal's Puppetoons.
- The Puppetoon Movie is available on Blu-ray, limited to just 3000 copies, and completely full of extra stuff for animation nerds.
- Hullaballoo on IndieGoGo
- Tom and Jerry's Giant Adventure (written by the great Paul Dini) is a true callback to the age of classic 2D animation, and you probably don't even know it came out in 2013.
- Hayao Miyazaki has retired from directing features, but The Wind Rises is a hell of a note to go out on. Watch the trailer.
- Miyazaki has always been a fan of depicting flight, but in particular, one could call four of his movies a pretty strong "Flight Quadrilogy": Castle in the Sky, Kiki's Delivery Service, Porco Rosso, and The Wind Rises.
- A robot on a hoverbike.