Jack Frost (TV special)
|Directed by||Jules Bass
Arthur Rankin Jr.
|Produced by||Jules Bass
Arthur Rankin Jr.
|Written by||Romeo Muller|
|Music by||Maury Laws|
|Original airing||December 13, 1979|
|Running time||48 minutes|
Jack Frost is a stop motion animated television special that premiered on NBC on December 13, 1979. It was directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr. and written by Romeo Muller. The special tells the tale of Jack Frost, the winter sprite, and his adventures as a human. It airs annually on the ABC Family cable network as a part of its 25 Days of Christmas programming block.
Jack Frost (voiced by Robert Morse), an immortal winter sprite, falls in love with a human girl named Elisa (voiced by Debra Clinger) after rescuing her. Jack asks Father Winter if he can become human in order to be with her. Father Winter (voiced by Paul Frees) gives him a chance, but warns that Jack must prove he can succeed as a human, by earning a house, a horse, a bag of gold, and a wife by the first sign of spring; if not, he will become a sprite again.
Jack agrees and turns human, assuming the identity of Jack Snip. He runs a tailor shop in the town of January Junction with two friends who also turned human, Snip the snowflake maker (voiced by Don Messick, he is nearly identical to the elf Jingle Bells from Rankin and Bass's The Year Without a Santa Claus) and Holly the holiday snow gypsy. Snip and Holly were sent by Father Winter to ensure Jack does not get into trouble. Elisa is charmed by "Jack Snip," but she harbors romantic dreams of Sir Raveneau, a "knight in golden armor."
Elisa is kidnapped by the evil Cossack king Kubla Kraus (voiced by Paul Frees), who lives in a castle on Miserable Mountain with an army of Keh-Nights, a menacing mechanical horse named Klangstumper, and his only sidekick, a ventriloquist's dummy named Dummy. Kraus also possesses all the brick, gold, and timber that January Junction used to have, and who just recently noticed Elisa for her beauty and madly wants Elisa to be her wife. After Elisa is rescued by Sir Raveneau, Kubla vows to destroy January Junction by sending one-thousand Keh-Nights in an attempt to get his bride, and imprisons Jack Snip, Snip, and Holly.
Jack decides to become a sprite again in order to whip up the biggest blizzard, freezing Kraus in his castle. Snip and Holly change back to sprites as well. This tactic works until Groundhog Day comes. Jack Frost uses his shadow to scare Pete back to hibernation, and continues whipping up the storm. Finally, with only one hour left before the arrival of spring, Jack returns to human form in an attempt to meet Father Winter's conditions and win Elisa. After battling Kubla, he claims the gold, tames Klangstumper, making him his horse, and the castle becomes his home. He races off to ask Elisa's father for her hand in marriage, but during his absence she has fallen in love with Sir Raveneau, and he with her. Jack becomes a sprite again for good, and blows ice onto Elisa's wedding bouquet, turning it white. When asked about the change, she sheds a tear, saying "An old friend just kissed the bride." Snip calls out to Jack that winter wouldn't be the same without him.
Before heading back to sleep, Pardon-Me-Pete states that Jack Frost still does his tricks on him to ensure that there are six more weeks of winter.
- Robert Morse as Jack Frost
- Debra Clinger as Elisa
- Paul Frees as Father Winter, Kubla Kraus
- Dave Garroway as Groundhog Day Reporter
- Buddy Hackett as Pardon-Me-Pete
- Dina Lynn as Holly
- Sonny Melendrez as Sir Ravanel Rightfellow
- Don Messick as Snip
- Larry Storch as Papa
- Dee Stratton as Mama
The licensing for Jack Frost was relatively lax for many years and as early as the early 1990s, independent discount home video distributors produced VHS (and later DVD) copies from 16 mm prints. The special did not, as occasionally stated, lapse into the public domain; the Copyright Act of 1976 had taken effect by the time the special was published, which granted Rankin/Bass and its successors automatic copyrights of 75 years.
In the fall of 2008, Warner Bros. (owners of the post-1974 Rankin/Bass library) re-released the special as an "official version" on DVD, using a 35 mm print as the master.