It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a good holiday movie. Christmas is about traditions, and many have grown up with and enjoyed these timeless classics over the years. Now is the season to get nostalgic, so get cozy, grab some eggnog, and rediscover the delights of the following Christmas specials.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964)
First airing on December 6, 1964, this stop-motion animation children’s classic is run annually during the Christmas season, making it the longest running TV Christmas special. Sam the Snowman (Burl Ives) narrates the story of the outcast reindeer that gains acceptance and saves Christmas. Along the way, Rudolph encounters a memorable assortment of misfit characters, including the equally frightening and endearing Abominable Snow Monster. Full of fun and adventure, the beauty of this movies lies in its message that it is the differences between people that make them unique and special, and that a perceived weakness can be transformed into a strength.
(Directors: Kizo Nagashima & Larry Roemer; Run Time: 47 minutes)
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
Based upon Charles M. Schulz’s popular comic strip Peanuts, this Emmy-award-winning holiday special is truly delightful. Charlie Brown is depressed as he expresses his frustration with the growing commercialism of the Christmas season. While the rest of the Peanuts gang is caught up in the frivolous bigger-is-better mentality, the ever-put-upon Charlie Brown sets out to prove that Christmas is about more than elaborate decorations and pink aluminum trees. Assigned to direct the school Christmas pageant, Charlie Brown is able to discover and share the true meaning of Christmas with the others.
(Director: Bill Melendez; Run Time: 25 minutes)
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Dr. Seuss’ classic book is narrated by Boris Karloff in this original television adaptation. Christmas is coming, but something is rotten in the town of Whoville: the Christmas-hating grumpy green cave-dweller. Bitter and envious, the Grinch concocts a plot to steal the holiday decorations and presents from the town and deprive the Whos of their Christmas. His plan is thwarted, however, and the Whos ultimately learn the true meaning of Christmas. Witnessing the Whos’ celebration despite the loss of their gifts, the Grinch’s heart grows “three sizes” as he discovers that perhaps Christmas “means a little bit more”.
(Directors: Chuck Jones & Ben Washam; Run Time: 26 minutes)
Frosty the Snowman (1969)
Animated cartoon tells the story of a snowman who magically comes to life when a magical top hat is placed on his head by the children who built him. Frosty soon realizes that he is beginning to melt, and he sets off to the North Pole with Karen, one of the schoolchildren. The evil Professor Hinkle wants his top hat back, however, and attempts to foil their plans.
(Directors: Jules Bass & Arthur Rankin Jr.; Run Time: 48 minutes)
Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970)
Narrated and sung by Fred Astaire, this is the story of the origins of Santa Claus as Kris Kringle (Mickey Rooney). Made with the same stop-motion animation as Rudolph, the movie follows the adventures of Kris Kringle in his determination to deliver toys to the children of Sombertown and his triumph over the ruthless Winter Warlock. Trivia enthusiasts take note, as explanations are provided for many Christmas traditions, such as why stockings are hung; how reindeer fly; why Santa comes down the chimney and how the naughty/nice list got its start.