Thursday, December 23, 2010

Joel Grey & Tammy Grimes in 'Twas The Night Before Christmas 1974

Rankin & Bass were the go-to guys for holiday specials in the 60's and 70's. Their roster of holiday specials are legendary including Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1970), The Year Without Santa Claus (1974) and the one that started them all, Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer (1964). Their formula was simple - choose an iconic story, frequently based on a song or holiday legend, and cast a big star from old Hollywood, the theater or music - Burl Ives, Fred Astaire, Shirley Booth. The best known specials feature stop-motion animation, though the one we're concerned with today is drawn animation.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas is based, on the iconic poem "A Visit from St. Nick" by Clement Clarke Moore. It concerns Joshua Trundle, a clockmaker (voiced by Joel Grey, above) and his family and the family of mice that live in his house. Albert, the eldest son of the mouse family (voiced by Tammy Grimes, pictured to the right), in his analytical way, is convinced that Santa is a myth, so he sends Santa a letter telling him so, and signs it "All of Us" which Santa takes to mean the whole town of Junctionville. So Santa decides to skip the town all together. I've always thought that this was the weakest plot point in the story. I don't believe Santa would be that easily offended. He'd just Ho, Ho, Ho, and deliver gifts to the town anyway. I don't think he's in it for the recognition. Anyway, I digress. Mr. Trundle, the clockmaker seeks a commission from the town to make a clock that will welcome Santa on Christmas Eve. He gets the commission and builds the clock, only to have Albert, in his curiosity about how it worked, break it. Will they be able to fix it by Christmas Eve? You'll have to watch and find out!

The entire show has been uploaded to YouTube by aimstaind18 in one, 21 minute segment (I'll never know how people get the clearance to upload videos longer than the proscribed 15... <sigh>). It's a delightful 70's Christmas story and has some really charming original songs in it. There's also a DVD available and it's occasionally shown on ABC Family channel's 25 days of Christmas.

Obscurity factor: 2 (on DVD, occasionally shown on TV, available on YouTube)

Images from Google Images

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