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Western Animation / Horton Hears a Who! (1970)

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Horton Hears a Who! is a 1970 Animated Adaptation TV special that is based on the Dr. Seuss book of the same name. It was made by MGM Animation/Visual Arts, the studio responsible for the classic animated adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and carries over Chuck Jones as a co-director, who directed it with Ben Washam.

Much like the original book, Horton finds a speck of dust he believes contains the town of Whoville living on it. When he befriends the mayor named Dr. H. Hoovey, Horton tries to convince the Jungle of Nool that this speck has people on it who need to be protected. This draws the ire of the Sour Kangaroo, who his convinced that Horton is delusional. Now she'll not stop until the speck is ridden of and destroyed, which Horton will do anything to prevent.

Not to be confused with the 2008 animated film adaptation of the book.

The 1970 cartoon adaptation provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: Vlad Vladikoff's name is changed to Whizzer McWhoff, for no apparent reason.
  • Aliens Never Invented the Wheel: When Horton warns the doctor to brace for the drop from McWhoff, Dr. Hoovey expresses confusion on what a seatbelt is. None of the Whos appear to use motor vehicles either; only ones powered by pedals.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The Wickersham Brothers claim that Horton will "shut our schools, and steal our jewels, and even change our football rules."
  • Book Ends: The cartoon starts and ends with a speck of dust yelling for help.
  • Crossover Cameo: Since this is Who-ville, the Grinch makes a cameo.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Wickersham Brothers' song echoes the McCarthyite claims of Communist infiltrators.
  • Gossipy Hens: Jane Kangaroo tasks a Mrs. Tessie Toucanella to spread word of Horton's "delusion" through Precinct 23 of the jungle. From there, the other birds begin to talk to each other for the first song of the special, progressively painting Horton as mentally unsound with each verse.
  • Here We Go Again!: The ending to the animated special, when Hoovey hears from a speck of his own.
  • It Runs in the Family: As the jungle's birds gossip about how Horton has gone "schizo-witsa-fistic", they allege that it is a hereditary insanity, coming from a supposed cousin's uncle named Nate that believed himself to be the father-in-law of Catherine the Great.
  • I Warned You: Inverted. The Whos acknowledge themselves the massive destruction Whoville receives from being dropped from the sky by Vlad, that Dr. Hoovey had warned them that there was life beyond Whoville that could put their whole world at risk and they had not given his claims a speck (pun intended) of regard.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The Sour Kangaroo is named Jane Kangaroo and her kid Junior Kangaroo, and the Mayor of Whoville becomes Dr. H. Hoovey. The names of the kangaroos are carried over to The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss.
  • Narrator: Hans Conried fills this role in the special.
  • Rapid-Fire Descriptors: At one point in the "Mrs. Toucanella Told Me" song, the birds describe Horton as "manic, depressive, retrogressive, recessive, and progressively, excessively, possessively, oppressively acquessive'."
  • Recursive Reality: Horton discovers a whole world in a tiny dust speck. The special has an ending in which the main Who finds another dust speck with its own world.
  • Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: Type 4. The only real difference from the book is that the mayor is downgraded to a science professor named Dr. H. Hoovey. and a subplot is added involving the townspeople ridiculing his claims about there being life beyond Whoville and being an outcast as a result.
  • Stock Footage: This is used quite a bit, as well as recycling animation from How the Grinch Stole Christmas! for when the Whos are making all that noise, noise, noise!
  • Villain Song: The Wickersham Brothers get perhaps the catchiest number. They also do some chanting when caging Horton and trying to boil the clover.
  • Visual Pun: Quite literally a gaggle of Gossipy Hens deride Horton.
  • When She Smiles: Similar to the Grinch in Jones' previous Seuss adaptation, when they realize the Whos are real, Jane and the Wickershams, who had only grimaced or smirked for most of the cartoon before, beam a happy and rather sincere smile.
  • Witch Hunt: The Wickersham Brothers treat Horton like a Red Scare. "We know what you're up to, pal! You're trying to shatter our morale! You're trying to stir up discontent, and seize the reins of government!"


Video Example(s):


Mrs. Toucanella Told Me

Tessie Toucanella goes to the other hens in the Jungle of Nool to warn them that Horton is talking to a speck. From there the word-of-mouth gets so convoluted that not even the voice actresses can keep themselves straight.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / GossipyHens

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