Adsense Large Leaderboard

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Absolutely the Top Christmas Special

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964 holiday.filminspector.com


Rankin/Bass Productions' "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), directed by Larry Roemer, is the classic holiday treat. Telecast every year since its premiere, it is the longest-running Christmas TV special. It also is one of only four of the classic 1960s Christmas specials still regularly shown on broadcast television (the others are "Frosty the Snowman," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas"). These are all classics, and Rudolph tops even that list of lists.

Arthur Rankin Jr. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Arthur Rankin Jr., producer of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"

"Rudolph" was based on the holiday song of the same name, first popularized by country crooner Gene Autry. The song in turn was based on a poem written by composer Johnny Marks' brother-in-law, . Marks himself did the fantastic music for this special, and  adapted the song as a screenplay. Burl Ives, famous as both a singer and actor, plays Sam the Snowman, who narrates and sings both old and new songs that also have become classics ("Silver and Gold").

Young Rudolph and his mother in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Young Rudolph showing that his nose glows when he gets excited


The story closely follows the song. Donner (Paul Kligman) and his wife (Peg Dixon) have a fawn named Rudolph (Billie Mae Richards).  The playful little reindeer displays an unusual glowing red nose. He is playful, but has issues.


Burl Ives Sam the Snowman Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Burl Ives with his character Sam the Snowman

Santa Claus (Stan Francis) stops by Donner's cave upon Rudolph's birth to pay his respects, but warns them that the nose will cause problems if Rudolph wants to pull his sleigh. Donner, horrified, conceals the nose with dirt.


The Island of Misfit Toys in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
The misfit toys chatting with Rudolph

When Rudolph is old enough, Donner again conceals his son's nose and takes him to the Reindeer Games, where Rudolph can learn how to pull Santa's sleigh.  There, Rudolph meets Fireball, who becomes his friend. They run into cute young Clarice (Janis Orenstein), who Rudolph decides to chat up at Fireball's urging.

Original magazine as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
GE was so happy, it wound up buying the entire network

Unfortunately, while jumping around in joy when she proves receptive, the cover pops off his nose, revealing his shameful secret. All the other reindeer except Clarice immediately abandon him, and he is prohibited by Coach Comet (Kligman) from learning how to pull Santa's sleigh. Furthermore, Clarice's father (Kligman again) forbids her from seeing Rudolph.

Rudolph in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Rudolph is crafted in innocent, boyish fashion

Devastated, Rudolph runs away with an elf, Hermey (Paul Soles), who also is ostracized by his peers. They run into a colorful prospector named Yukon Cornelius (Larry Mann), and the three wind up on the Island of Misfit Toys. There, King Moonracer (Francis) helps unwanted toys find new homes, and he makes Rudolph promise to have Santa distribute his toys on Christmas.

Yukon Cornelius in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Yukon Cornelius waving his pike

After much wandering, Rudolph finally decides to go home. He learns to his horror that the Abominable Snowman kidnapped his parents and plans to eat them. Rudolph tries to save them but gets knocked unconscious in the attempt.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com


Fortunately, Hermey and Cornelius intervene and, after some problems, chase the snowman over a cliff, Cornelius falling with him. This turns the whole group into heroes. It also is almost time to distribute presents to the children of the world, but a terrible blizzard will prevent it unless someone special steps forward to help out....

The Abominable Snowman showing his teeth in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
The Abominable Snowman showing his toothy grin

The show is memorable for any number of reasons, but the stop-motion animation is what makes it truly distinctive. Even after all these years, and despite some self-conscious "showing off" of the then-revolutionary technique, "Rudolph" retains a contemporary look that almost all other animated productions of the time lack.

Kyoko Kita Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Animator Kyoko Kita with the Animagic reindeer Rudolph

As one example of its cultural impact, Norelco crafted a famous homage showing Santa riding one of its electric razors like the Santa in this film that ran for many years during the 1970s. "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" by West Anderson is a recent homage to this special, using similar stop-motion animation and featuring several songs by Ives. The costumes in "Elf" are almost identical to those in "Rudolph." Everybody, my friend, respects the wonder that is "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

The Abominable Snowman tamed in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
The Abominable Snowman putting the star on the Christmas Tree

Academy-Award winner Burl Ives sings his signature "Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas" not once, but twice. He does so in a simple, unadorned way that is practically a capella. It works wonderfully.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Burl Ives Have a Holly Jolly Christmas 1964 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
The single from Decca Records

After the success of the show, Burl re-recorded the tune the following year with a much fuller backing sound, and that is the version that has become the holiday standard heard on the radio every year. Part of the magic of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is that it is a true multi-media success, creating an enduring image on the screen and an everlasting sound on the radio, each of the two out-of-the-ballpark hits in their completely different realms. That two-pronged attack has settled "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" firmly into the Zeitgest of our lives.

The elves laughing in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
The elves in this special inspired their descendants in "Elf"

The show is dated in some of its attitudes despite repeated tweaking, and one can quibble that several of the characters act poorly. Santa is somewhat amusing with his grumbling about the elves singing, and Donner is a bit quick to claim he knew all along that Rudolph would be a hero. However, that also is how people act in real life, and Santa and the others come to understand their own errors in judgment about Rudolph. "Maybe misfits have a place, too," Sam the Snowman wistfully observes.

Santa's Sled Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
A Japanese animator working on the Animagic sled

It really is the people around Rudolph who grow, not Rudolph himself, which makes this a fascinating inverted coming-of-age tale. The theme of personal redemption is uplifting, and Rudolph going from outcast to hero is an exhilarating transformation and example for everyone.

Rudolph leading the way in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Rudolph in mid-flight

"Rudolph" is told simply, with clearly delineated good and evil characters who are easy for children to understand. There is little subtlety, it is just a simple tale, told in blunt fashion. The character of the Abominable Snowman appears to have given some inspiration to the creation of later animated characters in films such as "Shrek" and "Monsters, Inc."

Santa's sleigh gliding throught sky in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Santa and his sleigh riding above the clouds

The show's popularity speaks for itself. The original 1930s book helped inspire the classic Disney film "Dumbo," which has the same uplifting themes and is also worth a look for anyone who likes "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Any fan of the genre should see "Rudolph" at least once to appreciate its giant step forward for animation.

Below is the original classic film. It takes a minute to load, but it is a good copy, and complete (checked 21 October 2015).


Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer by crazedigitalmovies


Below, Burl Ives sings "Holly Jolly Christmas" in the single version recorded the year after the Christmas special. Ives owns this song to this day.


Below is the song "A Couple of Misfits" from the 1964 Christmas special, with a bit of dialog:


Here is Gene Autry's version of the song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," perhaps still considered "the" classic version despite Burl Ives' best effort to wrest that crown from him in the television special.



In addition, below is a copy of "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie" starring Eric Idle, Bob Newhart and Debbie Reynolds.


If the above don't work, you can watch the original 1964 film classic here.

rudolph the red nosed reindeer dvd cover 1964 animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com


2015

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lady and the Tramp Christmas!

Lady and the Tramp holiday.filminspector.com
Lady and the Tramp holiday.filminspector.com
Lady and the Tramp holiday.filminspector.com
Lady and the Tramp holiday.filminspector.com

Everybody knows about 'Lady and the Tramp,' the excellent 1950s Walt Disney Productions animated feature film showing canine love.

Well, here are a few ways to remember the film if you are a fan. It's Christmas for critters! Enjoy.

Lady and the Tramp holiday.filminspector.com
Lady and the Tramp holiday.filminspector.com
Lady and the Tramp holiday.filminspector.com
Lady and the Tramp holiday.filminspector.com
Lady and the Tramp holiday.filminspector.com





2015

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Victorian Greeting Cards

Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Awwwwwwwwww

Let's take a walk back - a long walk back - into the past, before any of us was around. Specifically, let's go back to the Victorian Era. Specifically, Victorian holiday greeting cards.

Now, there is no question that Victorian times have acquired an outsized reputation in the modern era as being, well, bad. They were repressive, excessive, possessive - come on, help me out here, you know what I mean.

Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com


Anyway, my point is not to go off into a historical rant - which actually is like my favorite thing to do, but we'll set that aside for the time being. Instead, today's topic is simply to look at something we can probably - mostly - agree wasn't so bad about the bad old times, and even maybe good to some degree or another. Dare say I that something Victorian might have been good? Perish the thought!

Greeting cards were cutting edge technology in the 1800s. They only came about because of that newfangled invention 'the public post,' with those fancy new envelopes and stamps and the curiosity of delivery to mail boxes or door slots and all that. These advances made sending the cards cheap enough for ordinary folks - having them all hand-delivered could get pricey! Sir Henry Cole became a Sir because he started the tradition in 1843. He actually had a batch of 1000 made up (see the last card below) by an artist, John Horsley, and a legend was born.

Anyway, below are quality Christmas cards from Victorian England. They illustrate all sorts of charming points, not least of which is that seasonal greetings change so seldom that they are practically inert. I personally can vouch for the fact that some of the cards below are not only reminiscent of modern greetings, they are practically still in use today. I actually have in the not too distant past sent cards which are uncannily similar to some of the images below, and these weren't presented as 'vintage' or anything like that to make them seem cool because they were old. If you ever listen to the radio around mid-December and hear carols from singers who otherwise haven't been anywhere near a radio station in about fifty years, you'll know what I mean. There is no more traditional part of society than 'the holidays,' they change about as fast as a glacier sliding uphill.

Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Naturally, many cards had a religious theme - but a surprising amount did not.

It used to be customary for ordinary folks to have a growing list of Christmas card recipients that they would maintain throughout their lives - not just on this year's version of Windows or Linux. Dad would spend hours and hours at the dining room table, going through his list of college buddies, army comrades, old workplace acquaintances, distant relatives, and on and on and on. Then, he would stagger out into the night under the load of the literally hundreds of cards and send them out. And wo betide if he forgot someone! They might not send one the next year, and then he'd be in a pickle and maybe have to 'cross them off the list,' which was akin to a summary execution. And all because he simply skipped that line in the list!

The point being that greeting cards were big back in the day. They were not some kind of frippery or frappery or whatever you want to call them. These were big deals, and thus great care was lavished upon them. It was a way for people to stay connected in a cold and cruel world when telephones were used for emergencies only and television was not around to dull the mind and make you forget that you actually needed to know real people in order to stimulate your mind and learn things and not just pass out every night before images formed from pixels on a screen.

Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com


All right, I know you didn't come here to read my endless ramblings. However, I will point out a few things before I let you go:
  • I said these are Victorian, and that is how the Museum of London presents them, but actually quite a few are Edwardian. In my defense, nobody is going to know the difference because Edwardian England isn't notorious enough to be remembered - but kindly do me a huge solid and don't sniff dismissively and shake your head in sadness at my ignorance and public school education if you somehow do appreciate the difference, k?
  • Many of these cards reflect the political agitations of the day in a sometimes aggressive or 'in your face' manner that actually is quite charming now. I particularly like the one sending the girls to the dungeon whilst the boys enjoy the 'nice' tree (darn it, I wanna see the girls' scraggly tree down in the crypt!) and all the presents (except the leftovers if there are any - yeah, right). Yes, some folks back then were like me and didn't believe in subtlety, either, and the gender wars will never, ever, ever end.
  • Carrying on from that last point, some themes in these cards are just plain eternal and you will never escape them no matter how long you may somehow fortuitously manage to live or where you choose to hide out, and I am looking in your direction, kittens and puppies and flowers.
  • Some of these cards are scarce, beautiful, and thus quite valuable even though they are now so old that there isn't a living soul who might ever have actually used them. Thus, if you are worried about buying that Ty Cobb baseball card or original Superman comic book or Pontiac muscle car but worry that the market may dry up once the Boomers who loved them all die off - don't. Collectibles like these hold their value long after the cohort in question has gone to its final reward.
Thanks for stopping by. And, season's greetings!

Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
This card comprised of a single sheet of card printed with a coloured chromolithographed image of five cutie kittens on a snow-lined wall
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
A Victorian greeting card depicting a child posting a letter in time for Christmas. But, wait, did that guy 'fall off the wagon' back there?
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
'A Merry Christmas and Votes for Women in 1910', produced by the pro-women's suffrage campaign. The drummer girl is modelled on a young member of the Junior Band attached to the Women's Band
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
'Votes for Women' Christmas Card, 1911. Designed for the WSPU by Hilda Dallas. Christmas merchandise raised funds for the 'war chest' and kept the profile of the campaign in the public eye. Suffrage came about, but not in 1911.
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Father Christmas dressed in blue giving presents to children in the snow
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Pro-suffrage propaganda postcard captioned 'To the Girl's Christmas Tree'. Produced by the Suffrage Atelier. You little greedy things, wanting presents! This is quite possibly the best card of all time.
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Seasonal scene: A Christmas card with robins sitting on a flower pot, which wishes the recipient a 'merry Christmas'
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Teetotalism: An anti-alcoholic drink Christmas card, promoting drinking tea instead of the 'hollow joys of strong drink'
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com

Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Christmas card with illustration of goblin wearing spectacles with a quiff of hair tied with red ribbon
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Christmassy scene: Victorian Christmas card showing a colourful group of robins on a holly bush branch
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian Christmas Card showing a clown with a message that reads, 'You are the biggest fool I ever met, put this on your mantle piece.'
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Christmas card showing shepherds gazing at a bright star. The text below reads, 'WHEN THEY SAW THE STAR, THEY REJOICED WITH EXCEEDING GREAT JOY.'
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Christmas card: 'Wishing You High Jinks This Christmas'
Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com

Victorian greeting cards holiday.filminspector.com
Only one of these cards, designed by John C Horsley, is still in existence - and was sold in 2005 for £8,500


2014