|The Hobbit (1977), directed by Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.
The Lord of the Rings (1978), directed by Ralph Bakshi
The Return of the King (1980), directed by Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.
When I first told my aunt that they were making a Lord of the Rings movie, she disinterestedly said "meh, there's already one of those." These three gems are what she was talking about. After re-reading The Hobbit and LOTR, I decided to hunt down these movies. I borrowed the first from Netflix, saw the second in a theater, and couldn't find the third.
The Hobbit was undeniably a children's movie - just as the book was a children's book. There was silly dialog, and silly action scenes and the dwarves were just as silly as they were supposed to be. In fact, it took me quite a while to get used to the animation because the old-fashionedness of it added to the silly factor.
The Lord of the Rings, in contrast, was very serious. The battle scenes were surprisingly violent for a cartoon. Neither my boyfriend nor I remembered that much violence from when we were kids watching the movie, so it must not have been too very traumatic, I guess. :) The story of The Lord of the Rings ends quite suddenly after the battle at Helm's Deep because they couldn't get the rights to the third book in the trilogy.
The Return of the King was not a sequel to The Lord of the Rings, but to The Hobbit. The same animation studio was used for both, though the second movie was a musical, which added to the movie greatly. In fact, this song is one that I remember from childhood, and I was thrilled when I could find it again: