Several of these stop-motion animations were produced as Christmas specials based on popular songs. Here are my favorites:
RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (1964):
Based on the premise of the song itself, we are introduced the story of Rudolph via a lovable snowman, narrated by Burl Ives who is animated in his likeness. Wearing a green plaid vest, a bowler hat and sporting a Mr. French-like beard, this snowman glides across the snow with ease as he sets the stage for the early years of this uniquely-nosed reindeer. And he does so by treating us with festive song, such as "Silver and Gold."
SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN (1970)
When this film originally aired, I was four years old and my baby sister was just born. So I recall this one fondly as my childhood standard to watch every Christmas season with utter delight. This holiday classic enlists a celebrity again to narrate the story. None other than legendary Fred Astaire himself introduces us to Santa Claus aka Kris Kringle by answering all the questions we've always wondered about... where did he come from? .... where did he get that suit? ... where did he get that name? ... why does he give us presents in stockings? ... and so much more. Like Burl Ives as the jolly snowman in RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (1964), Fred Astaire's likeness is wonderfully replicated in Animagic wonder as the singing (and yes, of course dancing) mailman S.D. Kluger who helps unravel all the riddles of the mysterious Santa mythology.
THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY (1968) is another favorite for many. It tells the story of a poor orphan boy who befriends young animals yet is challenged by hatred in his heart and deals with many struggles like poverty and abandonment. But his journey ends to intersect with the birth of Jesus Christ. His gift is pure love and playing his drum for the newborn son of God. The tone is too religious for me personally. But the voice celebrities are great- Greer Garson narrates and Jose Ferrer voices the character of Ben Haramed. It was always the favorite of my mother's and my husband's, as well. The songs are memorable, especially the title song. My favorite version of "The Little Drummer Boy" song was recorded by Bing Crosby and David Bowie in 1977. You can hear it here.
here) and Heat Miser. These characters are uniquely fun. Frankly I wish these two had an entire film devoted just to their musical numbers. See if you agree, by checking out their bit here.
*This tribute to my top Rankin/Bass holiday specials is my contribution to the Christmas Movie Blogathon, hosted by Family Friendly Reviews. Be sure to check out the other bloggers' contributions to their favorite Christmas-themed classics, too. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!!