TV Show Name: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Studio: Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc. (Previously Videocraft International)
Release Date(s): December 6, 1964
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Born with a shining red nose, Rudolph finds himself ostracized by the other reindeer and looked down upon by his father. When Rudolph decides to runaway he meets up with other misfits in Hermey the Elf who wants to be a dentist and Yukon Cornelius a prospector obsessed with silver and gold. Together they discover the Island of Misfit Toys and face the mighty Bumble…When Christmas is threatened, can Rudolph save it?
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created by Robert L. May for Montgomery Ward as part of an advertising campaign in 1939 and the song followed in 1948 (to its famous recording by Gene Autry in 1949). Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer originally aired on NBC in 1964 but has aired on CBS since 1972. The special has become a Christmas tradition and now airs frequently through the holiday period in addition to being available in all sorts of formats.
Part of Rudolph’s enduring nature is from a strong Christmas soundtrack. Narrated by Burl Ives (as Sam Snowman), Ives also sang “A Holly Jolly Christmas”, “Silver and Gold”, and “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer”. Ives’ deep and reassuring voice have turned these into classics and are just as memorable as the claymation special.
Rudolph hasn’t remained untouched over the years. Originally, the Misfit Toys never were shown being delivered (I bet parents were really happy to clean up after the gun that shoots jelly). Also the song “Fame and Fortune” was shot later and covered with a reprise of “We’re a Couple of Misfits”. Yukon’s fate was revealed in a scene called the “Peppermint Mine” but that also was edited out.
Visually, this is some of Rankin and Bass’s best claymation. The style and the art are still a bit jerky (when compared to something like The Nightmare Before Christmas), but that adds to the charm of the show. All the characters really are distinctive (though most of the people tied to Santa’s workshop are totally judgmental jerks). I know it is a kids movie, but that Bumble terrified the hell out of me.
The endearing nature of Rudolph is a sign that tradition still exists and has made Rudolph the longest running holiday special. Rudolph was seen by parents, passed on to their children, and now passed on to their children’s children. It is a sign of Christmas when Rudolph lights up the sky and still holds a great sense of wonder for children young and old.