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Dougal and the Blue Cat (called Pollux et le Chat Bleu in France) is a 1970 film based on The Magic Roundabout, it was released in France in December 1970 and its English version, narrated by Eric Thompson like the original series was released in 1972.

Plot

One morning in the magic garden, Dougal the dog is yelling at his cuckoo clock for dropping its pendulum on his bed. He suddenly realises that something strange happened last night, and he takes the train to speak to Zebedee about it. After a talk with Ermintrude, Brian, Dylan, and Mr. McHenry, he finds Zebedee conducting an orchestra of French lollipops. Once the lollipops leave on the train, Dougal tells Zebedee about what happened last night. He got to bed early, because he was tired from all his work. After a few seconds of sleep, he woke up. He got out of bed and heard a loud shriek. It was an owl who said to him "'Allo, cheeky!". Dougal then heard something even more sinister. A voice. After he hears the voice, he hears a second, female voice. They were coming from the old treacle factory, which had been shut down and abandoned. After observing the scene from a red tree, he hears the female voice again. He returned to his bed and got back to his rest. After the flashback, Zebedee asks Dougal if he was not dreaming. After Dougal asks himself if he's "going dotty", Zebedee bounces away. Dougal then goes to see Florence.

Florence is busy cleaning her house, then she leaves to meet Mr. Rusty and her friends at the roundabout. Her friends show her something on the magic roundabout – a blue cat. After doing a small dance, he decides to be named Buxton. Zebedee tells Florence that Dougal has a "problem". While Florence's friends ride on the roundabout, Florence goes to speak to Dougal, who is picking flowers for her. Florence introduces Dougal to Buxton. Dougal, jealous of the attention directed toward Buxton, dislikes him and tries to convince him that he, Buxton, will not like staying in the Garden because of the rain. At the bridge, Dylan, Ermintrude and Brian meet him as well. Ermintrude says that "Blue is beautiful". This reminds Dougal about what happened last night at the treacle factory and tries to tell everyone about it, but they were only interested in Buxton. Everyone, with the exception of Dougal, decides that Buxton should sleep at Dougal's much to the dog's protests. Ermintrude and Brian make up Dougal's bed for Buxton to sleep in as Dylan sings a lullaby to him.

Meanwhile, Florence is picking blue flowers and Dougal is taking a walk, he accidentally steps on a platform and is elevated. Buxton, who has sneaked away while Dylan is asleep, hears this and goes off to the treacle factory. Once he gets there, he introduces himself to the blue voice.

Buxton enters the ruins of the old treacle factory where he is crowned King after correctly identifying the colours of seven doors (coloured different shades of blue). He recognises the first door as blue. When he enters the next room, he discovers a machine sorting out blue flowers and dumping the other colourful flowers. The blue voice then says her famous line "Blue is beautiful, blue is best. I'm blue, I'm beautiful, I'm best!". The second door is cobalt blue. Buxton enters a room with piles of clothing. A large machine is collecting the blue clothing and putting the other coloured clothing in a trunk. The machine also accidentally puts a blue sheet onto Buxton. Buxton correctly guesses the third door to be Saxony blue. In here, he meets an array of scary masks. Once he escapes, Buxton goes through the fourth door, which is indigo. Buxton finds himself in an observatory-like room. He finds the fifth door to be baby blue, though he momentarily forgets. He then enters the room of thunder and lightning. The next door is Prussian blue. He finds the guard room, where his blue men are created. Buxton then jumps through a small gap in between his men to reach the final door, royal blue. After being crowned, he sings a song.

Meanwhile, Ermintrude is painting blue pictures. Brian inadvertently helps Dougal down from the hoist by chewing the rope holding it. Dougal then tells everyone that Buxton is evil, but nobody believes him because Buxton has managed to keep them from suspecting by shedding tears in order to get everyone to feel sorry for him. A blue cactus then shows up while Ermintrude is showing Buxton all her paintings. Buxton informs everyone that the cacti are the "fast-growing" variety, and is happy to see it. Zebedee arrives and informs everyone that his moustache has gone missing from his bedside table. The group search for the magic moustache, whilst Buxton sneaks off to the treacle factory.

Buxton tells his army to capture everyone. The army leaves, singing a song. They eventually capture every character, except Dougal, and they are imprisoned in the dungeons with chains. Buxton reveals himself to be in possession of Zebedee's magic moustache, so they are unable to escape with magic.

After learning from a scarecrow that his friends were captured and imprisoned by Buxton's army, Dougal has the idea to dye himself blue, and he heads towards the treacle factory. Here, he falls through a trapdoor, and straight into Buxton's royal chamber. Dougal introduces himself as Blue Peter. Buxton comments on the fact that "Blue Peter" is very similar to Dougal, but Dougal says that he hates sugar. Buxton proceeds to lock Dougal in a torture chamber, which is a room full of sugar cubes. Dougal faces the dilemma of eating the sugar, and revealing his true identity, or resisting the sugar, thus earning Buxton's trust. He resists and is released from the room and given the title of Prime Minister.

Florence and everyone else are starting to feel depressed, regretting their mistake of not listening to Dougal's warnings about Buxton and Florence tearfully sings sad song which everyone cries along with her. Dougal takes a "tour" of the caves beneath the treacle factory and manages to locate the place where Buxton has imprisoned everyone. They identify him as Dougal, but he tells them to call him by his alias, Blue Peter, as he may have been followed. They soon realise that Dougal has a plan and they play along to keep Buxton from suspecting. At this point, Buxton shows up, Ermintrude and Brian call Dougal a "blue-bag", and Buxton warns them not to mock his Prime Minister.

Madam Blue orders Buxton and Dougal to conquer the Moon. Whilst on the Moon, Dougal falls in a puddle and his dye washes off, revealing his true identity. The pair begins to fight, and manage to make it to the rocket, where they continue to fight. Dougal is pushed out of the rocket, but his parachute deploys, and he makes it safely back to the factory. Buxton, meanwhile, remains in the rocket, which crashes inside the factory, and causes him to feel unwell. Buxton tells Madam Blue that Blue Peter was really Dougal, Madam Blue becomes infuriated, strips Buxton of his title and causes the lightning storm around the factory. Meanwhile, Dougal frees everyone from the prison cell, and they escape the treacle factory. However, Brian tries to tell Dougal that they've forgotten something. Brian takes it upon himself to enter the factory on his own.

The group return to the magic garden and witness the factory collapsing to the ground. They soon come across Buxton, who is shedding tears of remorse. Brian's whereabouts are questioned, and Dougal says that Brian went back into the factory. The group begin mourning Brian, and Dougal tells Buxton that he should "blush for shame" where at that moment when Buxton blushes, his true colour was revealed to be white. Buxton begs for Dougal and his friends to forgive him just as Brian appears, revealing that he went back to the factory to retrieve Zebedee's magic moustache, and convinces the group to forgive him. After this, Mr. McHenry uses magic to make it snow and Mr. Rusty gives everyone a ride on the magic roundabout.

Cast

English

  • Eric Thompson - Narration / Various voices
  • Fenella Fielding - The Blue Voice

French

Home video and other media releases

In 1970 an LP of Pollux et le Chat Bleu was released in France by Disques Somethin' Else (presented by the French distributor Valoria Films), a novelization of the film written by Serge Danot was published in 1971 by Hachette Bibliothèque, along with a comic-book adaptation in 1985, while the original series was being reran on FR3. There has also been two French VHS releases, one by Cinetheque around the late 80s/early 90s, and the other by Polygram/Universal in 1994.

On 1 January 1972, Music for Pleasure released an abridged LP record of the soundtrack of Dougal and the Blue Cat (the original mono soundtrack was electronically enhanced for stereo effect) and a single of three songs from the film ('Florence it's a Lovely Morning/Florence's Sad Song/Success!King Buxton') sung by Eric Thompson. In 1972, a storybook of the film was published by Jane Carruth (24 pages). There was also another storybook adaptation released around the same time by Dean and Sons, which was a different, more kid-friendly retelling of the story with very little resemblance to the original film.

Polygram Video released the film on VHS in 1989 on their Channel 5 label. It was also re-released by Polygram under "The Fun House" label in 1991, on the 4Front label in 1993, and by Second Sight films in 1999. A scriptbook, claiming to be the original screenplay, of the film by Eric Thompson was published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC in 1999, and features stills from the film.

A restored print of Dougal and the Blue Cat was released on DVD in the UK on 1 November 2010. This release by Second Sight also features the original French version of the film (Pollux et le Chat Bleu) with English-translated subtitles, interviews with Fenella Fielding, Phyllida Law and Emma Thompson, an overview by film critic Mark Kermode and a photo gallery featuring the original cinema lobby cards of the French release.

In France, the film was first released to DVD in 2015 by Antartic. A special-edition DVD reissue was released by LCJ Editions & Productions in 2017. This edition featured a small puzzle of the DVD's promotional artwork, the English version as an additional audio track, the French theatrical trailer from 1970, and two bonus featurettes (one from 1965, featuring an interview with Serge and Patricia Danot, and the other from 1970 featuring Serge Danot showing the making of the film), both of which have been previously made available on the French website INA.

Trivia

  • This is the first English dub to feature another actor aside from Eric Thompson. This is because Eric Thompson didn't want to voice Madam Blue and gave the role to Fenella Fielding as he wanted the character to stand out from the others with its own distinctive voice and to emphasize its sinister personality.
  • The film was presented in 1.66:1 widescreen which is different from the original series as it used the standard 4:3 aspect ratio for all the episodes.
  • The opening theme from the tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra was used in the English version, during Dougal and Buxton's flight on the rocket to the moon. It would be later used again for the 2005 CGI film when Zeebad uses the three diamonds to freeze the sun.
  • This film makes several callbacks to episodes from the original series, including "Cow Railway" and "Brian and the Train Race", even down to re-using lines of dialogue from those episodes in the French version.
  • In the original-series episode "Zebedee Disappears", it's revealed that losing his mustache causes Zebedee to turn invisible. This does not happen to Zebedee when he loses his mustache in this film, although in the French version, he says he can't show himself.
  • Dougal also visited the moon before in "Flower in the Sun" and would do so again in "Going to the Moon".
  • After the production of this film, an additional 12 episodes were made before the production of series 3. This is noticeable due to the model of Florence having an entirely redrawn facial redesign by the end of the film. The episodes are "Can You Play Cup and Ball?", "Letter to the Queen", "Road Signs: No Entry", "Dougal and the Pencils", "Snowman's Scarf", "The Rain", "Toffee River", "Bubbles", "The Orchestra", "Wine Making", "The Key", and "Taste of Honey". In the UK, these episodes were broadcast in 1971 as part of series 2, before the film's premiere in 1972.

Gallery

Merchandise

French lobby cards

External links

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