Thursday, December 15, 2016

25 Days of Christmas: RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (1964)

Welcome to Day 15 of our 25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS series, where we will be taking a look at holiday classics each day in the lead up to Christmas. Today we're looking at 1964's Rankin/Bass holiday classic, RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER.

Now, you know Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. But do you recall the most famous Reindeer of all, Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerWell, we here at Merc With a Movie Blog do. That’s why on this, the 15th day on the road to Christmas, I am reviewing this timeless children’s classic about how outcasts and misfits can become heroes too.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has had many incarnations over the years in various animated forms. This review is about the 1964 Rankin/Bass Productions stop animation version, which is the beloved Rudolph of my childhood.

As we know, Rudolph (voice actor Billy Mae Richards) was born with a shiny nose; like if you ever saw it, you would say it even glows. That made him an immediate outcast and the other reindeer wouldn’t let him play in the games. Rudolph meets up with Hermey (voice actor Paul Soles) the elf who doesn’t want to be a toymaker, and instead wants to be a dentist.  Rudolph makes friends with the adorable Clarice (voice actor Janis Orenstein), but her family doesn’t want her associating with him due to his ‘difference’.  

Rudolph, unable to fit in with the other reindeer, sets out to find his true place in the world. Taking his cue from the red-nosed reindeer, Hermey follows him on the journey. Along the way they meet up with adventurer/gold miner Yukon Cornelius (voice actor Larry Mann) and have a run in with the fierce snow creature known as ‘The Bumble’.  
Hermey and Rudolph end up on the island of misfit toys where they meet up with King Moonracer (voice actor Stan Francis who also voices Santa Claus), a winged lion who takes care of the misfit toys.  Hermey and Rudolph ask to stay there as they are misfits too, but the island is only for toys.  Rudolph and Hermey eventually go back to the North Pole after being gone for a year, resigned to trying once more to fit in. However, one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa comes to ask the grown-up Rudolph with his nose so bright to guide the sleigh that night so Christmas would be saved for girls and boys, and misfit toys.
The 1964 Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer by Rankin/Bass was written by Romeo Muller and Robert May with the theme and other songs written by Johnny Marks. The opening introduction and all the narration parts are told by Sam the Snowman (voiced by Burl Ives) who also sings the movie’s second most popular Christmas song, Holly Jolly Christmas. 
The stop motion animation used to bring the ‘characters’ to life was very cutting edge in the sixties and still stands the test of time as one of the almost life-like forms of animation. The story of Ruldoph The Red-Nosed Reindeer was also one that was very cutting edge as well. It took on a social mores topic that plagued many children, myself included; that of not being ‘like the others’ and finding themselves the focus of bullying and shunning by their peers and even some adults. In Rudolph, children like myself found a voice that gave us a means to express our lives to others. A glimpse into our own island of misfits.  Rudolph’s message was that everyone has a place, a talent and an ability to help others. That acceptance and embracing of ‘being different’ is something to strive for. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer led as all out of our ‘foggy night’ with his bright, shiny nose.

Marla’s Score: 10/10

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