The Daydreamer

The Daydreamer (1966)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Paul O’Keefe, Jack Gilford, Burl Ives (voice), Boris Karloff (voice)
Extras: Theatrical Trailer, Poster and Still Gallery

Released theatrically in 1966, ’The Daydreamer’ mixes biographical elements of the life of author Hans Christian Andersen with his immortal fairy tales, told through the stop-motion ’Animagic’ animation of Rankin-Bass, the duo responsible for such TV classics as ’Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ and ’Frosty The Snowman.’ Now available on DVD, complete with Anchor Bay’s typical attention to quality, both a new generation and their baby boomer parents can enjoy – and re-live – this classic family film.

The live action portion concerns the ’real-life’ story of young Andersen (Paul O’Keefe) going through the growing pains of life with his poor but devoted father (Jack Gilford). One night, the mysterious Sandman (voiced by Cyril Ritchard) appears before Hans and helps him to find the fabulous ’Garden of Paradise’ where all knowledge springs and all of life’s problems melt away. As he quests for this idyllic place, Chris (as his father calls him) starts bumping into characters from his yet-to-be written fairy tales – Thumbelina (voice of Patty Duke), the Little Mermaid (voice of Hayley Mills) and a certain fabrically challenged Emperor (voice of Ed Wynn). As he journeys with them, Hans learns happiness should be looked for within and that sometimes even fairy tales have a bittersweet end.

The full-frame transfer exhibits full and rich storybook colors throughout, even during the live action sections. With a very clean source print and the high resolution of the format, the puppet wires can be seen numerous times. While one could make an argument for digitally erasing them, seeing them just adds to the ’gosh, remember when…’ factor. (Kids used to digital neatness might object. Parents, be prepared to explain.) At times, the image gets a little soft but otherwise the picture looks clear and sharp with lots of detail definition and no digital or compression artifacts.

The Dolby Digital mono soundtrack works appropriately here. Despite some limited dynamic range, the audio sounds clean with little or no distortion. All the better to hear Robert Goulet’s corny but lilting title song: ’Day dreamer/Month of May dreamer…’

Extras include a full-frame theatrical trailer, three TV spots and a poster/still gallery. Both the trailer, which looks and sounds in the same decent shape as the feature, and the black-and-white commercials highlight caricatures of the star-filled cast, drawn by legendary illustrator Al Hirschfeld. The liner notes, written by
Rankin-Bass aficionado Rick Goldschmidt, details the history of the film with affection and authority.