A Cricket on the Hearth (1967)

cricket on the hearth dvd cover 1967 special
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 5/10

Painting style art during songs

Dumbed down story and dull visuals

TV Show Info

TV Show Name: A Cricket on the Hearth

Studio: Rankin/Bass Productions/Thomas/Spelling Productions

Genre(s): Cartoon/Seasonal

Release Date(s): December 18, 1967

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

cricket on the hearth danny thomas hour

That’s right…I’m going to sing you a song about a cricket!

A little cricket watches over Bertha and her father Caleb as they suffer from bad luck. When Bertha’s love is lost at sea, Bertha goes blind, and Bertha’s father is forced to work for a cruel toy producer. The toy producer decides Bertha might be the wife he’s looking for but a mysterious homeless man might cause problems for his plans.

Directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr., A Cricket on the Hearth was a Rankin/Bass production which first aired on December 18, 1967 as part of The Danny Thomas Hour. It was adapted from Charles Dickens’ 1845 story “A Cricket on the Hearth” but just has a few similar story aspects instead of being a real adaptation. The cartoon ran regularly for years and can still be found around the holidays and DVD collections.

cricket on the hearth danny thomas roddy mcdowall

I promise not to annoy you with my chirp…but your life will also fall apart

A Cricket on the Hearth is not one of the animated Christmas specials I watched growing up.  It had already been booted from regular airing when I was a kid, and much more popular animated specials like Charlie Brown and Rudolph ruled the airways.  The special itself is rather typical, and it is obvious why this special just never caught on like the other seasonal shows.

The main character Caleb is voiced by Danny Thomas himself and his daughter Marlo Thomas voices the character of Bertha. The cricket (who plays a greater role in the story) is voiced by Roddy McDowall and serves as a lot of comic relief for the story. The movie is filled with music sung by the actors.

Animation-wise, A Cricket on the Hearth is pretty standard fair Rankin and Bass. The only difference is, during some songs and segments, it goes to more painted mattes of the characters. These are rather interesting and much more stylized, but not really animated. The Christmas special might have been more interesting if it had been done in this style of art. The art style used for the animation often feels a bit dated.

cricket on the hearth wedding animation

Far more interesting animation than in the regular special

Danny Thomas serves to introduce and conclude the cartoon from the set of his show and it is kind of a kitschy feel that adds a bit to a kind of otherwise dull Christmas special. A Cricket on the Hearth feels like it was rather spit out and the parts that were supposed to be “fun” for children seem just more painful for everyone.  At a running time of almost an hour, A Cricket on the Hearth is a holiday special that you should only watch if you are just killing time or if you grew up with it.  If you find a collection with A Cricket on the Hearth in it, make sure you get some other specials to make it worth your while.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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