Thursday, December 20, 2012
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a Christmas television special produced in stop-motion animation by Rankin/Bass. The company was founded by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass in the early 1960s as Videocraft International. The majority of Rankin/Bass' work, including all of their "Animagic" stop-motion productions, were created in Japan. Throughout the 1960s, the Animagic productions were headed by Japanese stop-motion animator Tadahito Mochinaga.
It first aired Sunday, December 6, 1964, on the NBC television network in the United States, and was sponsored by General Electric under the umbrella title of The General Electric Fantasy Hour. The special was based on the Johnny Marks song by the same name which was itself based on the 1939 poem of the same title written by Marks' brother-in-law, Robert L. May.
Since 1972, the special has aired on CBS affiliate television stations, with the network unveiling a high-definition, digitally remastered version of the program in 2005. It has been telecast every year since 1964, making it the longest running Christmas TV special in history, and one of only four 1960s Christmas specials still being telecast with the others being A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman.
Romeo Muller was a consistent contributor, serving as screenwriter for many of Rankin/Bass's best-known productions including Rudolph, The Little Drummer Boy, and Frosty the Snowman. Billie Mae Richards stars as the voice of the title character and Burl Ives narrates as Sam the Snowman.
Original 1964 NBC broadcast edit
This version has the NBC "living color" peacock at the introduction. It includes the original end credits, where elves are seen delivering boxes which list all the technical credits. The original does not include Santa traveling to the Island of Misfit Toys, but does include a scene near the end of the special in which Yukon Cornelius discovers a peppermint mine near Santa's workshop. He can be seen throughout the special tossing his pickax into the air, sniffing, then licking the end that contacts the snow or ice. Discarded in 1965 to make room for Santa traveling to the Island of Misfit toys, the audience was left to assume that Cornelius was attempting to find either silver or gold by taste alone.
The songs and incidental music were all written by Johnny Marks, with Maury Laws supervising. In addition to the songs previously mentioned, the score also includes the film's love theme "There's Always Tomorrow", sung by Clarice after Rudolph is kicked out of the reindeer games. Marks' holiday standard "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" appears as instrumental background music when Rudolph first arrives at the Reindeer Games. Also included in the soundtrack is an instrumental version of Marks' setting of the Christmas hymn "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."
In 1964, an LP record of the soundtrack was released. It contained all the original songs performed as they are in the special, with the exception of Burl Ives' material, which has been re-recorded. MCA Special Products released the soundtrack on CD in June 1995. The song "Fame and Fortune" is not contained on either release. On November 30, 2004 the soundtrack was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling over 500,000 copies.