Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Christmas Tradition

I first saw Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Animagic Rankin/Bass production, when I was four years old. Because I watch the thing every year, it's fair to say I have seen it at least forty times, which would explain why I can recite it practically line for line.

And I can sing all the songs. There's Sam the Snowman singing "You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen,..." And there's Clarise trying to cheer up Rudolph with "There's always tomorrow for dreams to come..." And there's Hermie singing "I am not just a misfit. You can't fire me, I quit. Seems I don't fit in."

I know the Abominable is a sad excuse for a monster. I know that Santa is mean to Rudolph when he should be benevolent. I know Santa quadruples in size in just one meal. But none of these shortcomings matters because this little film is my Christmas treat. It's a staple. It's a remnant from when I was able to take things at face value, just sit on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and enjoy the show without picking it apart and analyzing its flaws

Hermie gets to be a dentist. Rudolph gets to drive the sleigh. The Misfit Toys get loving homes. Santa apologizes for his bad behavior. The Abominable gets to put the star on the tree. It's a happy ending for everyone involved. And that makes me happy, because in real life that hardly ever happens

So, I make no apologies for treasuring this secular film about a flying deer with a physical defect during a holiday season that was intended to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Rudolph doesn't diminish the meaning of Christmas, it enhances it with nostalgia and simplicity and a Burl Ives snow man who welcomes you in, saying, "pull up an ice block and lend an ear." "Then how the reindeer loved him as they shouted out with glee. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, you'll go down in history."

Here are a few other movies/shows I watch every Christmas
White Christmas
Holiday Inn (could Fred Astaire be anymore adorable?)
Meet Me In St. Louis
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (animated only!)
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Miracle on 34th Street (both the Natalie Wood and the remake)

A Christmas Carol. There are so many version out there, I'm not sure which one I like best. So I'm taking a poll here. Which one do you like best?

12 comments:

dive said...

I suppose it's got to be the 1951 black and white version with Alistair Sim, though I always make a point of reading the book in the run up to Christmas and steering clear of the idiot box; the screenplay and characters are always so much better on the page.

I don't recall ever having seen that Rudolf over here, which is a shame as it looks fun.

Your Christmas posts have almost got me in a festive mood (something previously considered impossible); I actually picked up a copy of Nat King Cole's Christmas Album today when I moseyed into the village to buy drugs and a new pillow.
I put it down again though (phew)!

Robyn said...

I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'VE NEVER SEEN RUDOLPH. NO WONDER YOU'RE SUCH A CURMUDGEON. :)

I actually gasped at the mention of Nat King Cole. His rendition of The Christmas Song is the best, secondly only to a 78-year-old sax player I know who will be playing it with the middle school band next Tuesday. I'll miss it, but I heard him play it a few years ago, and it literally made me cry. Every year I think is his last, and he's such a treasure.

dive said...

Hee hee …
I'll make a point of buying a Christmas TV guide this year and look out for it, Robyn (though remember I can only get four channels).

And The Christmas Song is gorgeous; Nat's voice makes honey seem spiky. I wish I could hear your sax player's version.

dive said...

Thank's for the spiffy clock idea, Robyn. I nicked it for my site and had just loaded it and was checking what it looked like when you posted about it. Speedy Gonzales' got nothing on you!

Anonymous said...

I have two favorites, and they both happen to be musicals:

The 1970 "Scrooge" with Albert Finney in the title character

and

The Muppet Christmas Carol, with Michael Caine.

Just thinking about them make me feel festive!

Sassy Sundry said...

I love the Fuzzy Wuzzy Christmas Specials.

And I also love the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol that Dive mentions above. Scrooge's Oh Goody I'm Not Dead! Dance is delightful.

White Christmas is a staple, but I'm not such a fan of Holiday Inn (the blackface scene gets to me).

Charlie Brown is essential, as is the animated version of the Grinch.

I approve. I have out my Ella Fitzgerald Christmas album, Bing's White Christmas, and the Charlie Brown Christmas album. It's the freaking holidays. Merry Merry!

Robyn said...

I know what you mean about the black face scene in Holiday Inn, and if that were done today it would be inexusable, but I put it in context of the culture of the day. I don't think the performers thought they were doing anything offensive--just keeping the pretty girl away from the letcherous Fred.

RICH said...

Hey Robyn, This movie is a favorite of mine as well. I must have seen it fort times alone in the span of 5 years when my kids were little one's I reminded my son the other night just how much he used to like this movie.

One of my favorite for Christmas is: The "Bishops Wife" with Carry Grant as the angel. It's a good romance as well.

Like I always say: if you don't treat your woman good someone else will!!!

Robyn said...

Rich, I forgot about The Bishop's Wife. It's a great film. As much as I appreciate Denzel, I don't care for the remake so much, but then I rarely like remakes.

Molly said...

I like the Muppets Christmas Carol the best.

Gina said...

I like them all, although I have never seen "A Christmas Story" in its entirety. Or at least, I don't remember sitting through the whole thing. I think that makes me an outcast or something.

Rob7534 said...

I Love the rudolph movie you're talking about! :)