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Peter Jackson has nothing on Fred Bluth

| Filed under: Collecting NewsUrulöké | June 6, 2006 @ 7:20 am (Views: 2433)

I was reading more Tolkien Journals last night (when I wasn't poking at site code) and came across an article by Bonniejean Christensen in issue #13 (also Orcrist #4, October 1970) entitled "Report from the West: Exploitation of The Hobbit".

A dramatic script was run across written by Patricia Clark Gray entitled J. R. R. Tolkien's "the Hobbit" (Chicago: Dramatic Publishing Co., 1968, 87 pp.) which claims to have Tolkien's approval (which somehow I doubt, as does Bonniejean.) Bilbo, at one point in the script, is saved by a fairy queen (who does have her magic wand at hand); at another he is saved by Thorin who stabs Smaug to death with a sword. I would not be surprised if copies of this dramatization are still around, though scarce. I wouldn't put much value on it, but would love to read a copy! [Update: Who would have thought... checked Amazon and found a copy for $3 of the original 1968 printing. They also have copies of the 1977 (or later) reprint for $3 to $6.50 for other brave souls.]

So, I hope you have cringed at least a little, but that was nothing compared to Down in Middle Earth [sic], an original musical by Fred Bluth, "inspired by the J. J. [sic] Tolkien book The Hobbit". Gandaulf [sic again, may need a bucket soon] is accompanied by three singing hobbits, Poke, Put and Scratch. They are in love with Phoebe, whom is in turn in love with Bilbo. There are also three butterflies, and some Wargs. The plot centers around the "love pentangle and the theft of the Ring from the hobbit palace". Yes, in case you were wondering, Bilbo wins the heart of Phoebe in the end (by regaining the Ring and giving it to Phoebe, thus becoming the "Lord of the Ring"). According to the article the only ephemera available was an announcement in the newspaper and a program handed out. Perhaps there is a script surviving in someone's hands, but I fervently hope not.

4 Comments

  1. Comment by Deagol:

    Fantastic! Come back Peter Jackson all is forgiven!

    Believe it or not the Dramatic Publishing Company's dramatization of The Hobbit was authoried by Tolkien - or maybe that should be "authorized". According to Rayner Unwin's book (GA&U - A Remembrancer, pp.127-8) DPC contacted A&U to tell them that they were going to go ahead with the project, because, like Ace Books, they believed that the book wasn't covered by copyright. If A&U agreed to it DPC would make a small payment and show them the script. Tolkien and A&U agreed reluctantly. Tolkien looked at the script but declined to make any changes to it, so Rayner took it off for the weekend to do what he could himself.

  2. Comment by Rowns:

    The Patricia Gray dramatization showed up this weekend, and was a funny read. Like Peter Jackson, not sure why some changes were made when the original serves quite well. Overall it was made into something a 12-18 year old cast could perform, so some of the changes (Smaug's death for example) make a certain sense in the constraints of special effects available. I can see how this only got "authorized" with the twisting of arms rather than a true author approval process.

  3. Comment by Warrior of Rohan:

    Deagol, any idea on how to locate a copy of Rayner Unwins book GA&U A Rememberance that you mention. Nothing shows up on ABE.

    Thanks

  4. Comment by Deagol:

    I don't think I've ever seen a secondhand copy. It only had a small print run and I think I remember hearing that Rayner distributed it privately - my copy came from the Tolkien Society. I might have a photocopy somewhere. Contact me if you are interested and I will try to dig it out.

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