Cover of the sound track re-release.


Original Medium: Popular music
Produced by: Apple Records
First Appeared: 1966
Creators: The Beatles
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Yellow Submarine started as a song idea Paul McCartney had as he was falling asleep. It was fleshed out by McCartney and John Lennon, and recorded with Ringo Starr as the …

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… lead singer. It appeared on The Beatles' seventh album, Revolver, which was released on August 5, 1966. From there, of course, it went on to become an international hit, but that's pretty much a given when the "Fab Four" (no relation) are involved. What wasn't anticipated was just how big an international hit it would become. It was quickly spun off into a single, which promptly became a top seller worldwide.

Then came the movie — the first feature-length cartoon to use animated versions of real people, the first to incorporate the trendy art styles of the 1960s, the first with a rock'n'roll musical score, and, of course, the one aspect of the entire Yellow Submarine phenomenon that got it a Toonopedia™ entry. It had its world premiere July 17, 1968 at Picadilly Circus in London and, like the song itself, went on to become both an international hit and an enduring classic.

Al Brodax, head of King Features' movie and TV production department, is credited with the idea of making The Beatles' fourth film an animated one. Brodax had previously been responsible for King's Saturday morning cartoon version of the foursome, which ran from 1965-68 on ABC, as well as various other King Features animated projects, such as the 1960s Popeye cartoons and the Saturday morning show Cool McCool. Brodax served as the feature's producer.

But the one man who, more than anyone else, was responsible for the film's overall look and feel — and, no doubt, its popularity — was Heinz Edelman. He created the backgrounds, designed the characters, and generally set the tone for the whole experience. Even more than the Beatles music that permeates the entire feature (which, while definitely a contributing factor, didn't make mega-hits of Help, A Hard Day's Night or their other live-action films), Edelman's graphic design made Yellow Submarine what it is, easily overshadowing the limited budget for actual animation. In fact, even in the film's Gold Key comic book adaptation, where the style was considerably toned down, the effect was striking.

Other notable contributors include (but are not limited to) writer Erich Segal (whose Love Story brought him even greater recognition than he achieved here), George Martin (the so-called "fifth Beatle", who among other things arranged the background music), Charlie Jenkins (who created the special effects) and of course, the men who did the voices. No, they weren't The Beatles themselves — John Lennon's voice was done by John Clive, Paul McCartney's by Geoffrey Hughes, George Harrison's by Peter Batten and Ringo Starr's by Paul Angelis. Other voices were provided by Dick Emery and Lance Percival.

Yellow Submarine made as big a splash in its 30th anniversary re-release as it did in 1968. Considering how dated much of it has become (for example, the overall message, that tyranny can easily be defeated by judicious application of love and rock music, is very '60s), its continuing popularity proves, once again, that true quality never goes out of style.


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Text ©2001-06 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Apple Productions.