Posts Tagged ‘Peter Beagle’


S4E9M – The Last Unicorn (movie)*


Wherein we visit and revisit this cult classic animated film directed by an iconic duo of americana animation (cultivated mainly in Japan), featuring a star-studded cast of voice talent, and spots of dated folksy music with vocals by members of the band “America.” Kaelin O’Reilly, a book reviewer (Kaelin Reads YouTube Channel: joins me again as we cover this important 80’s esque cartoon fairytale, that as of yet, doesn’t have anything to do with the Disney company.

We both enjoyed delving into the history of these directors and recounting their many and varied forays into animation which peppered our respective childhoods. The attention to detail that was paid to creating unique characters impressed us and contributed to making their efforts memorable along with the voice talent which was well cast. 

Neither of us were over the moon about the music and felt that the songs were done well enough to carry the movie, but lacked something that might have launched this film into the big leagues of all time classics (Kaelin, in particular, felt that sometimes these were done off-key). The book was preferred by both, but Kaelin expressed favorite parts in each while Ryan noted that the author, who served as the screenwriter, took out some noted bits of the book that had felt unnecessary without losing anything of the narrative. 

While Kaelin felt the movie was slow at times, overall she enjoyed the nostalgic revisit to this cartoon style. For Ryan this brought him back to the directors’ soulful versions of the Tolkien cannon which was equally nostalgic for him.

Enjoy this sometimes overlooked fantasy fairy tale of old school animation!




“The Last Unicorn (1982)” by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass (Mia Farrow) (animated film) 

Ryan: 3 Stars “…A folksy take on an american fantasy classic, which manages to capture the tone of the original work. Bonus: includes an all-star cast of voice talent who all seem to get it…

Kaelin: 3 1/2 Stars “…Fun and whimsical film that sticks closely to the novel, features many recognizable voices and good humor and adventure. The songs are cheesy and the singers off-key, but the animation is great…



During the episode we talked about Rick Goldschmidt who is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass. Here is an audio interview with the historian on YouTube: He has also established and collaborates on websites that sell collectibles from the beloved films which these two directors made their mark. There is which is “Home of merchandise related to the Animagic of RANKIN/BASS,” and also which is “The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass: Preserving the history of Rankin/Bass Productions.”

Ryan also mentioned a video interview of Arthur Rankin, Jr. at the Museum of Television & Radio in 2003 hosted on the Miser Bros Press YouTube Channel which can be see here: 


We also briefly talked about the actor and comedian, Brother Theodore, who did the voice of Ruhk (Mommy Fortuna’s assistant and carnival barker) in the movie. Ryan recognized the voice and noted the he also played the infamous character Gollum in Rankin/Bass Productions foray into J.R.R Tolkien‘s world of Middle-earth for both “The Hobbit” and “The Return of the King.

Kaelin mentioned that he was a character in the 1989 comedy horror film “The ‘Burbs” which was directed by previously covered director Joe Dante and starred Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, and Carrie Fisher (among others). Here is an article by M.V. Moorhead for Topless Robot recounting some of Brother Theodore’s more memorable moments with video clips: Below is the clip from “The ‘Burbs”:


* DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the views and opinions of the hosts and guests of NDIOS are completely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of the other hosts and guests or that of NDIOS.



S4E9B – The Last Unicorn (book)*


Wherein we discuss a beloved classic of american fantasy literature as well as some unfortunate and lengthy legal travails undertaken by its author. I am joined again by my cousin, Kaelin O’Reilly, a book reviewer (Kaelin Reads YouTube Channel: for her second appearance on the podcast. This is our first recorded duo episode for NDIOS, but the second to be released (podcast time doesn’t adhere to the normal rules of the space time continuum). 

Both of us enjoyed the author’s noted lyrical quality of prose and appreciated the depth of dimension found in the main and secondary characters. The bumbling well intentioned wizard was a favorite. Kaelin brought out some quotes demonstrating the author’s writing as well as his skill in light-touch worldbuilding. He manages to create a secondary world that hints at our own but is very much different with an effective brand of low-magic based in wonder, and absurdist humor that is contrasted by real world consequence. 

After an utterly epic book synopsis that went on far too long, Ryan noted that the ending was particularly unique and powerful and Kaelin identified aspects of feminism coming through. Ryan admitted to be influenced by the highly esteemed praise and love for this piece of literature, but found that there was simply nothing else he wanted from it that might cause it to fall short of a perfect rating. Kaelin said that the more she discussed the story the more she discovered new layers of meaning to enjoy, which pushed her rating higher than it was at the start of the show (an occurrence not so uncommon on NDIOS). 

All around a good book discussion was had by all.**


**CORRECTION: During the podcast Ryan incorrectly stated that Peter S. Beagle wrote the screenplay for the 1978 animated film “The Hobbit,” and possibly the 1980 animated film “The Return of the King,” which were both directed by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass. The screenwriter for both of those films is credited as Romeo Muller who also worked on other famous screenplays for the duo directors. Kaelin had it right when she stated that Peter S. Beagle worked on the screenplay for the 1978 animated movie “The Lord of the Rings,” which was directed by Ralph Bakshi. In actuality, Beagle is given co-writing credit on that screenplay with Chris Conkling who is named first. (Updated 9/17/19)



“The Last Unicorn (1968)” by Peter S. Beagle (book) 

Ryan: 5 Stars “…Magical prose that flows in lyrical quality and somber notes in deft creation of a profound myth that is familiar and yet completely unique. Hope and regret and joy and sadness–a complete and wondrous tale…

Kaelin: 3.75 Stars “…it’s filled with pretty round characters that are interesting and very different, and it’s an adventure story but it also has a really good touch of humor in it as well…a really good fantasy fairy tale…

(Click the links to read full written reviews on



During the episode Ryan and Kaelin briefly mentioned working together on a short comedic film called “Shut-Eye” written and directed by her brother and past NDIOS guest Mike O’Reilly which is available on Mike’s YouTube Channel and can be viewed here: Kaelin has her own BookTube channel there where she has done some video blogs on books she has read: She is currently more active with her bookish interests on Goodreads here:

The author for this book has influenced many other authors over the years including fantasy writer Patrick Rothfuss (The Kingkiller Chronicle) who interviewed Peter S. Beagle at the 2018 SFWA Nebula Award conference. That interview is available here: On the podcast we discussed how this author wrote screenplays including co-writing the uniquely animated and story-stunted version of “The Lord of the Rings” released in 1978 and directed by Ralph Bakshi. On a side note, Peter S. Beagle’s absurdist humor and playful nod at classic fantasy and fairy tale tropes in this work reminded Ryan of Harvard Lampoon‘s parody effort at LOTR called: Bored of the Rings.

During the bio portion of the Podcast the author’s various legal struggles were talked about. There are a few websites tracking this over various blog posts including a Snopes article which were used for research. These can be found here:


We also stated that over the years the author has either wrote more tales set in the same universe as this story or about the subject of unicorns. There are at least two which can be found free online. If you want to read these check out the story “Two Hearts” which acts as a Coda to this book at:; and a story about the bumbling wizard, Shmendrick, that was featured in Fantasy Magazine called “The Woman Who Married the Moon” here: Two more stories about the wizard (The Green-Eyed Boy” and Schmendrick Alone”) and three stories about different kinds of unicorns (Chinese in “The Story of Kao Yu,” Persian in “My Son Heydari and the Karkadann,” and North American in “Olfert Dapper’s Day”) unrelated to this narrative are collected in the author’s anthology “The Overneath,” which was reviewed by Gary K. Wolfe for science fiction industry magazine “Locus” here: In addition to these, we talked about the early manuscript version of this novel which was released at least a couple times in special editions with commentary from the author as “The Last Unicorn The Lost Version” or “The Last Unicorn The Lost Journey“.

Lastly, both Ryan and Kaelin mentioned being fans of the bumbling wizard character in the book. Ryan compared him to the likable and often perplexed superhero protagonist of the 1980’s science fiction comedy/drama series “The Greatest American Hero.” Watch the opening of that show to get a quick sense of how the two would compare:


* DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the views and opinions of the hosts and guests of NDIOS are completely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of the other hosts and guests or that of NDIOS.