The Adventures of Mark Twain (1985 film)

The Adventures of Mark Twain (released in the United Kingdom as Comet Quest) is a 1985 American stop motion claymation animated fantasy film directed by Will Vinton and starring James Whitmore. It received a limited theatrical release in May 1985. It was released on DVD in January 2006.[5]

The Adventures of Mark Twain
Theatrical poster
Directed byWill Vinton
Produced byWill Vinton
Written bySusan Shadburne[1]
Based onThe works of
Mark Twain
StarringJames Whitmore
Music byBilly Scream
Edited byKelley Baker
Michael Gall
Ed Geis
Skeets McGrew
Will Vinton
Will Vinton Productions
Harbour Town Films
Distributed byClubhouse Pictures
Release date
  • March 1, 1985 (1985-03-01)[2]
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.5 million[3]
Box office$849,915[4]

The film features a series of vignettes extracted from several of Mark Twain's works, built around a plot that features Twain's attempts to keep his "appointment" with Halley's Comet. Twain and three children, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher, travel on an airship between various adventures.


After having a bout of one-upmanship, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Becky Thatcher sneak aboard an airship piloted by Mark Twain in an attempt to become famous aeronauts. Upon discovery, they find that Mark Twain intends to pilot the airship to meet Halley's Comet. Worried that this goal will end in their deaths, the trio learn to fly the ship while conspiring to sabotage the voyage.

After discovering the truth behind Twain's journey, the trio recognize their folly, and the group navigates storms and treacherous skies with the help of a mysterious dark figure who turns out to be Mark Twain's dark side. The two Twains merge and fly off to meet the comet, leaving the airship in the hands of the youngsters.



The concept was inspired by a famous quote by the author:

"I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year (1910), and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'"[6]

Twain died on April 21, 1910, one day after Halley's Comet reached perihelion in 1910.[7]

Included are sketches taken from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Mysterious Stranger, "The Diaries of Adam and Eve (Letters from the Earth)", "Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven" and a rendering of Twain's first story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County". References are made to his other works, including "The Damned Human Race". This animated film was shot in Portland, Oregon.

When he was asked about the rumours of this film being made by a 17-person crew,[3] Vinton stated:

Well it’s all true, though that’s probably exaggerating a bit. Seventeen or so represents the full-time staff and then freelance people came and went, plus you have musical talent and writing talent and things that go beyond that number. We shot the film in a converted house that had a barbershop in front of it, so we called it the Barbershop Studio. The bedrooms and things were editing rooms and offices. The high-ceiling basement was conveniently connected to a four thousand square foot studio that we built in the back, and that basement was where the animators and sculptors worked on the characters. So, yes, we spent a lot of time in the basement![3]

Critical reception

On Rotten Tomatoes it has a score of 80% based on reviews from five critics, with an average rating of 7/10.[8] On Common Sense Media it has 3/5 stars.[9]

See also


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