Wednesday, December 03, 2008


For today's post I share another favorite Christmas special--'Twas The Night Before Christmas, created by Rankin Bass, who brought us Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty The Snowman, and a number of other stop-motion and animated classics, including the immortal Mad Monster Party.

Based (if somewhat loosely) on the classic poem by Clement C. Moore, 'Twas The Night
relates the story of a small turn-of-the-century town called Junctionville, which discovers that all its letters to Santa are being returned post-haste, and on the week before Christmas. Discovering that an insulting and anonymous letter to Santa questioning his existence has been printed in Junctionville's newspaper, signed "all of us," Father Mouse (George Gobel, who also narrates the story despite the credits listing Joel Grey as narrator), a mouse who works as a partner to a clockmaker named Joshua Trundle (Grey), immediately suspects his know-it-all son Albert (Tammy Grimes) as the culprit--and he's right. With Christmas only days away, Father Mouse and the Trundles devise a singing clock tower that will play a special song to coax Santa into visiting Junctionville, but unfortunately, Albert enters the clock and damages it, disgracing Trundle's reputation and the town Mayor's as well.

Everything does turn out OK in the end, as this is a Christmas special, and we do hear the classic poem in its entirety. But that's not the reaon why I like this special, which is something of an underdog in the Rankin-Bass canon. Mostly, it's Gobel's narration and the simple warmth of the story, which is another tale about misunderstanding and redemption, even if the poem is sort of shoehorned in at the end. Still, the half-hour it takes to watch this simple little tale is, in my opinion, hardly wasted. Instead of an enormous holiday feast, consider it a mug of Christmas cocoa and a bowl of hot soup after a few dozen hours or so hanging up lights outside, and you'll discover the charm of 'Twas The Night.

Join us back here tomorrow for further flights of holiday horror-business with The MonsterGrrls' 25 Days Of Christmas, and just remember... you'd better watch out!

This special and other Rankin-Bass holiday specials are now available on the DVD sets The Original Christmas Classics and Classic Christmas Favorites, available from Click the links to view and order.