This entry is written for the December 2022 Genre Grandeur of Santa Claus in movies hosted by MovieRob.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) for me is probably my all time favorite Christmas special (different from movies, right?!). I can’t tell you exactly the first time I ever saw it, all I know is I can’t ever remember a Christmas in which I didn’t watch it. Every year no matter what I have to make sure I watch it, along with A Christmas Story (1983) (which is on my top Chirstmas movies of all time list).
Rudolph is the first Christmas feature from the Rankin/Bass studio (which was known as Videocraft International Ltd. at the time of release), and it set the precedent for the specials that would follow including 1969’s Frosty the Snowman and 1970’s Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.
For me and for a majority of the people watching, the “animagic” style is probably what caught our eye as kids. The unique movements of the puppets (who are actually made out of wood, not clay) was just so magical to watch, and its not something that ever wears off. Secondly, the characters whom of which we think we know, but not really know, because they are all given depth to their cliche Christmas personalities.
Sam the Snowman (Burl Ives) moving through the snow at the beginning of the special immediately captivates you, and you just find him to be a cool character. Santa cutting a skinny figure at the start was a bizarre image, yet you wanted to find out more about how he gets to be the fat man we all know. Hermey, an eccentric but lovable elf does not enjoy making toys, and you want to discover what he actually does want to do (by the way, any Beach Boys fans out there thinking Al Jardine was an inspiration for Hermey?). And of course our hero Rudolph, who shows us being a misfit isn’t a negative, rather it makes you stand out in a positive way.
For my Mom personally, her all time favorite moment that will bring her to tears every single time she sees it is the moment Santa asks Rudolph to guide his sleigh. Christmas season 2022, I watched with her, and when the scene played I looked over and saw her tearing up, but it’s always in the most sentimental and sweetest way. She says it just brings her back to being a kid, and that magic of Christmas- I can’t disagree with her!
A number of years back, Build-a-Bear toys had the Rudolph and Clarisse plushes for sale along with extras, they sold: Hermy, Ykon, the spotted elephant, Charlie in the box, the Dolly for Sue. For Christmas my dad, sister, and I picked them all up for my Mom and she puts them out every year. A couple years later, Build- a-Bear released the Bumble plush and we also picked that up for my Mother because, simply she needed the whole collection!
As I type this review, Christmas has passed, but the next Christmastime is always around the corner, and Christmas in July is even sooner than we think! No matter though, I can guarantee you Rudolph will be on my Christmas watch list.