Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
With the next two films on the list, I’m not going to lie, I’m cheating like hell to get them on here. The first is celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary and for a good reason because this is one I look forward to every Christmas. This Christmas classic is Rankin-Bass’ Christmas special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Everyone who is anybody knows the story. In fact, here’s the song:
With that out of the way, here’s what actually happens in the special. Narrated by Sam the Snowman (Burl Ives), Rudolph (Billy Mae Richards) is the son of Donner (Paul Kligman) who happens to be born with a glowing red nose. He grows up and is dismissed by the other reindeer and even Santa (Stan Francis) who said that Rudolph would never pull the sleigh with that defect in his life. Santa is kind of a dick in this special. His father is embarassed by this defect and tries his best to not let it be shown. It’s like Frozen, but without ice powers.
Rudolph grows up and befriend a doe named Clarice (Janis Orenstein), but when his nose is revealed, her dad despises her decision to be friends with him. Rudolph, hurt by what happens, runs away and meets up with an elf named Hermey (Paul Soles) who has left his elf job to try and become a dentist. The two also come upon Yukon Cornelius (Larry D. Mann) and an Abominable Snowman who wants to pretty much eat Rudolph. After dealing with that bozo, they embark to the Island of Misfit Toys and exchange to help them be delivered finally. Rudolph gets older, finds his parents and saves the gal he loves. Then, on one foggy Christmas Eve, well, you already know the rest.
This special is awesome and a bit dated, but still holds in my mind. Rudolph is a naive boy who just wants to be accepted and Richards plays him to a tee. He captures the essence of someone trying to be accepted. The rest of the cast succeed in making their characters come to life in a very cheesy manner, but it’s good cheesy. We have the cliche big man in Yukon and the overly nervous and high pitch of the elf. Santa being introduced at the begging putting down Rudolph makes him seem like a real dick. Santa shouldn’t be a dick, unless it’s Bad Santa where it’s fun as hell.
The story itself is the standard “don’t judge a book by its cover” with Christmas throws in and it has been done to death. During Christmas though, we will eat that story up because of the time of the season. We only want joy and happiness around this time and love the hell out of it.
The music in this is memorable as hell. I sing the title song a tons of time and the Island of Misfits Toys song is awesomely depressing to sing around the holidays. “A Holly Jolly Christmas” & “Silver & Gold” are my personal favorite with “Holly Jolly” being delightfully cheerful and “Silver & Gold” capturing the heart of Yukon Cornelius’ ideal life.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a corny and chessy special, but I love it. Hell, it’s lasted 50 years on television. It has remained for generations and I hope it continues on for another 50 years. He surely has gone down in history.
Isn’t that right, DMX?