Gather Round The Tele: The Point (1971)

Gather Round The Tele – the feature that looks at family movies – continues with Tim Wickens looking at The Point starring Ringo Starr and Paul Frees.

For those who thought H.R. Pufnstuf was the only trippy (possibly) LSD induced children’s movie/program, think again. Singer songwriter Harry Nilsson openly admitted that he came up with The Point whilst on the drug. Those who read this should not be alarmed, this TV movie is one that really should be shared with the whole family. It is a fable about the evils of conformity. More on that later, let’s talk about the film.

The Point starts with a Dad talking to his son about the beauty of father and son time, sharing a bedtime story. His story is about a place where everybody and everything has a point, literally. This conformity is disrupted by the birth of a round headed boy, Oblio. To help Oblio fit in his Mom made him a pointed cap. Now Oblio is not alone; as he has a trusted companion in the shape of his dog Arrow. Life goes on until the evil Count’s son (just as bad as the father) challenges Oblio to a game of Triangle Toss (a favorite among the pointed headed inhabitants). Oblio aided by Arrow wins! At this, the Count becomes furious seeing the King and admonishing that he must obey the Law. This whole law business is very Kafkaesque, but it is discovered that the Law is ‘everyone must have a point’.  A sentence of banishment is passed, Oblio and Arrow set off to the Pointless Forest. They meet an array of characters: the Pointed man (3 headed constantly pointing and disappearing), The Rock Man (a jazzy hippie dude), and a capitalistic Tree (concerned about harvesting leaves for profit), to name a few of the more memorable ones. Oblio and Arrow prevail through it all ending up back at the Village of Points. Back home Oblio is welcomed with cheering crowds.

(Personally), the most important aspect of this film is its teaching of acceptance. As the father of a child with Down’s syndrome (Stephen, who was mentioned in my Fat Albert review) it speaks volumes. We are all different in our own ways but we are also all the same. The Point’s point is that we all must enjoy and find happiness within ourselves – to question or fight what is unacceptable “under the law”. This little film starts with complete uniformity, then an uneasy acceptance (with a character saying to another, “Did you hear about “THEM”?, in reference to Oblio’s family), expulsion for not being the same, and finally the true acceptance and enlightenment that has become Oblio. The enlightment could be more attributed to the teachings of Timothy Leary, his slogan “Come Together” (that Lennon made into a rock song instead of a campaign song) comes to mind more than Descartes’ “I think therefore I am” (but I digress). Either way it is a fun Yellow Submarine like ride with a good message. A great teaching tool for young children and an entertaining film to boot.

Harry Nilsson who envisioned the story is best remembered for singing Without You (a song written and originally performed by Apple records Badfinger) and the main song from Midnight Cowboy, Everybody’s Talkin’. He was a friend of The Beatles, infamously getting thrown out of a nightclub with John Lennon. The movie and album The Point feature a solid set list of songs. Two of note is Me and My Arrow and Are You Sleeping? Nilsson also starred in Son of Dracula, the Apple film directed by Freddie Francis. In it he plays Count Down, Dracula’s son. Ringo Starr is Merlin…the film is forgettable, (but it is a guilty pleasure for me).

The Point was an ABC Movie of the week. Dustin Hoffman originally voiced the part of the Father, but due to his contract was replaced on subsequent airings and DVD (there is a version with Hoffman) with Ringo Starr (plus Alan Thicke did the part as well). I have only seen the Ringo version. Bobby Lookinland (youngest son Bobby Brady from The Brady Bunch) plays Oblio. Familiar voice artist Paul Frees is featured and linking this with H.R. Pufnstuf is Lennie Weinrib as The Count, he is best known as the voice of Pufnstuff himself. So gather the family together enjoy the story and discover The Point.

FMV Rating *****   

(For the next film in the series we head to the 80s with The Goonies )



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