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Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1964

A misfit reindeer and his friends look for a place that will accept them...

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a Christmas television special produced in stop motion animation by Rankin/Bass. It first aired Sunday, December 6, 1964, on the NBC television network in the United States, and was sponsored by General Electric (who then acquired NBC after the 1986 acquisition of RCA) under the umbrella title of The General Electric Fantasy Hour. The special was based on the Johnny Marks song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" which was itself based on the 1939 poem Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 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. As with A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph no longer airs just once annually, but several times during the Christmas and holiday season and on several cable channels (including ABC Family). 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, the others being A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Frosty the Snowman.
I'm running out of Christmas movies to watch!!! THIS MOVIE RULES. I never realized how much I love Yukon Cornelius.
It's not that I didn't watch a fair amount of TV as a kid, but I guess I never watched that much around the holidays that wasn't sports-related, because stuff like this always eluded me. (See also: It's a Wonderful Life, which I may finally try to watch this year.) Unfortunately, this is the sort of thing you need to watch when you're a kid, because as an adult it just doesn't hold up.

Instantly dated in almost every possible way, the film contains a lot of stuff that's just strange, enough that it's hard to pinpoint what's the weirdest. Is it:

* The Red Scare undertones?
* The homoerotic relationship between Rudolph and Hermey?
* The appallingly sexist dialogue?
* The needless, ham-fisted attempts to work lines from the song into the dialogue?
* Hermey going all Laurence Olivier on the Abominable Snowman?
* Santa Claus presented as a total bastard for most of the film?
* Ditto for every male reindeer?
* Yukon Cornelius and the Abominable going over the cliff?

Each is pretty strange in its own way. I find the communist part to be the weirdest, myself. Okay, so Rudolph's nose is red. Yet people have this incredibly averse reaction to it (no explanation why). Santa says that Rudolph will never fly on Santa's team while his nose is red (no explanation why). When Rudolph's false nose pops off, Santa tells Donner he should be "ashamed of himself" (no explanation why).

Everyone's scared of Rudolph because he's Red. (Just watch the eyes when his false nose pops off.) His parents are embarrassed because he's Red. He claims not to be Red for a while, but in the end, he's so Red it can't be hidden and he has to leave town - he's blacklisted from the Reindeer Games and from being on Santa's team. Finally, everyone learns that he can still be useful even if he's Red - in this case, especially because he's Red. (Okay, so this whole thing is sort of a stretch. But the vagueness with which the initial aversion to Rudolph is presented makes any hypothesis a lot easier to slip in.)

Apart from that, the sexist dialogue is probably the worst - there isn't much of it, but I'm pretty sure I had an involuntary eye roll when Donner says "this is man's work". Of course, Donner's an asshole in this film, but Burl Ives reaffirms the sentiment after the Abominable attack, when he says that they needed to get the women home.

So, yeah, I can't say I was much of a fan. The various characters that were introduced because the song didn't provide enough on its own (shocker!) never really worked for me, too much was obviously dated, and a lot of it was just plain old weird. I guess I'll have to find something else to show my kids.
Movies I watched at my grandmother's over Christmas break...

Yellow Submarine

An inventive piece of animation with some of the best Beatles tunes. Fun and addictive and impossible not to love.

A-:fresh:

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

I expected a flood of nostalgia, but really this is just a mediocre little film.

C:rotten:

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Ahh, near perfect. I love it.

A:fresh:

Vertigo

Kind of blew me away. It's intense and filmed to perfection. Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak are both entrancing. Wow. The best Hitchcock I've seen.

A:fresh:

Shadow of the Vampire

Inventive and bold for sure, though not exactly entertaining. Had some moments where I thought it was going to be just great, but never really got to that point.

B:fresh:
MY CHRISTMAS STICKY

One of my favorite childhood movies...
Rankin/Bass'
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".





Christmas would not be the same without this wonderful story, 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer'. This film, narrated by talking snowman voiced by Burl Ives, is a claymation which tells Rudolph's story. It's a children's film, but it is one that adults can enjoy too because it is a cute film, and it offers nastalgic value. It also has a few classic Christmas songs; combine that with a good story and the warmth and happy ending, and you have the perfect Christmas family film. This film was one of my favourites as a child, and I still love it today. Excellent; I wish they made them more like this. I cannot fault this film in any way.
There are many Christmas specials and movies involving Christmas. Some are good. Some are average. Some are bad. But Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer remains king of all Christmas specials. All characters are wonderful and memorable, and Burl Ives is perfect for the snowman, who sings those unforgettable songs. A must see every Christmas. I used to watch it when I was younger along with the other Christmas special Frosty the Snowman.

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER
(KIZO NAGASHIMA AND LARRY ROEMER, 1964)
NOT RATED
47 MINUTES

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
(****):

One of my all-time favorite Christmas films. I love claymation films in general and this is the one that all the others should aspire to be. Great choice for the holiday season.
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