Before we get into The Point, let’s do a quick reminder of the glory of Harry Nilsson. The singer-songwriter was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Los Angeles. He worked in the computer department of a bank at night so that he could spend the days working on his musical career. His songwriting career took off first that included “Cuddly Toy” for the Monkees. His recording career picked up when The Beatles discovered his first album. His hit songs included “One,” “Without You,” “Jump into the Fire” and “Coconut.” His work in movies included singing the end credits to Skidoo, the iconic “Everybody’s Talkin'” in Midnight Cowboy and writing the music to Robert Altman’s Popeye with Robin Williams. Before the massive success that greeted his album Nilsson Schmilsson, Harry found himself connecting with a younger audience with the release of The Point on vinyl and the TV dial. Harry’s music became essential to the fable about a boy’s issues. The animated movie aired as ABC’s Movie of the Week on February 2, 1971 at 7:30 p.m.
One night a father (The Beatles’ Ringo Starr) wants to tell his son a bedtime story instead of letting the kid watch a TV show in his bedroom. Oblio (The Brady Bunch“s Mike Lookinland) lives in a Kingdom where everything has a point. This includes the buildings and the people. This makes Oblio stick out since he has only a round head that doesn’t rise to the point His parents made him a hat to give him a point. People overlook his difference until one day when he and his dog Arrow into a game of Triangle Toss against a kid that doesn’t like losing to him. The kid gets his revenge since his father is the Count (HR Pufnstuf“s Lennie Weinrib). The King (Rocky and Bullwinkle‘s Paul Frees) gets an earful from the Count and is reminded that the rule is that anything without a point must be banished to the Pointless Forest. Even though most of the community likes Oblio, a rule is a rule and away him and Arrow must go. Will Oblio survive in a land with no point?
The Point goes beyond the normal creativity of ’70s network movie of the week. There’s so much talent highlighted by the sweet voice of Harry Nilsson and his music. Now if you saw this back in 1971, you’ll swear something is different from this version. Turns out Dustin Hoffman (The Graduate) was the voice of the father in the original broadcast. However his contract called for it only to be used that one time. When the movie was rerun, Alan Barzman voiced dad. Finally a third broadcast was Alan Thicke reading the story. When it came time to putting the film out in other formats including 16mm for school screening, Nilsson was able to get his pal Ringo Starr. Who would you rather hear play the dad? Ringo wins for me. Also part of the voice cast is Joan Gerber (Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp), William E. Martin (Transformers), June Foray (Rocky on The Bullwinkle Show) and Buddy Foster (Foxes). The Point is a masterpiece of animation with songs that you’ll hum for the rest of your life as witnessed by certain grown ups who hum “Me And My Arrow” after all these years.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The film was made for a 1970s TV so there’s no need to have it adjusted for widescreen TV. The 2K transfer was made off 16mm film elements that have been stored. There’s a little wear and tear, but this goes well with Fred Wolf’s hand drawn animation. The negative is missing. The audio is DTS-HD MA 2.0 and 5.1. The difference in sound is most effective during Harry’s musical numbers. The movie is subtitled in English.
Original Claymation Animation Sequence (2:52) was made by Dean Torrence from Jan & Dean. Harry sings “Think About Your Troubles” over this piece.
The Kid’s Got a Point: An Interview with Mike Lookinland (17:14) catches up with the youngest Brady boy. He was 9 when he did his vocal track for the film. He did most of his part solo so he didn’t get to meet Dustin Hoffman. He did work with Paul Frees and Harry in the studio. He talks about doing a Pringles ad with Jodie Foster.
That Old Guy Wrote The Point: A Conversation with Screenwriter Norm Lenzer (15:01) has him coming onto the project in mid-production to get a script done. He mostly worked with Fred Wolf so he didn’t upset Harry. He felt his job was to give the characters Harry came up with some personalities.
Everybody’s Got a Point: Kiefo Nilsson and Bobby Halvorson on Adapting the Point (15:50) has him talking about doing live shows based around his father’s music to The Point. He talks of the timeless lessons in the work. Kiefo was part of Glen Campbell’s final tour.
Nilsson on Screen (61:13) has biographer Alyn Shipton and friends discuss Harry Nilsson’s film projects & appearances. Harry’s first big job as a kid was at a movie theater so even though he wanted to be a songwriter, he also wanted to be involved in movies. There’s background on Harry’s involvement in Skidoo. Shipton discusses scenes from movies and TV shows since it would probably be a nightmare to get the rights to the clips. The good news is you can probably use the internet to find the clips they’re talking about including the BBC Special.
Who Is Harry Nilsson? (3:52) has people including Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees and Terry Gilliam from Monty Python recount Harry’s influence on them.
Pitching The Point (3:37) has Mickey Dolenz talk about Harry explaining the story to him and drawing the characters at his table. Harry called his short story “The Point” as the world’s longest pun. He made it an album first. Harry basically stalked the ABC executive to make the movie until he found a perfect place for them to have an “accidental” meeting.
Making The Point (13:08) has Fred Wolf explain how the project became a reality. He hit if off with Harry as he was guided through the project. Wolf talks about the animation process he used. Instead of a group of people overseas, Wolf took charge. He did 28,000 drawings in 34 weeks. He had other people do the coloring.
Legacy of the Point (6:04) has people talk about the impact of the movie including his Harry’s children. The movie was played in elementary schools.
Collectible Mini-Poster of The Point.
MVD Rewind Classics presents The Point. Directed by: Fred Wolf. Screenplay by: Norm Lenzer. Starring: Harry Nilsson, Ringo Starr, Mike Lookinland, Paul Frees, June Foray and Lennie Weinrib. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 74 minutes. Released: February 18, 2020.
Tags: Harry Nilsson, MVD Rewind Collection, Ringo Starr, The Point!