'Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974 TV special)
|'Twas the Night Before Christmas|
|Based on||A Visit from St. Nicholas|
by Clement Clarke Moore
|Written by||Jerome Coopersmith|
|Directed by||Arthur Rankin Jr.|
|Narrated by||George Gobel (main story)|
Joel Grey (poem sequence)
|Theme music composer||Maury Laws|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Producers||Arthur Rankin Jr.|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Production companies||Rankin/Bass Productions|
|Original release||December 8, 1974|
'Twas the Night Before Christmas is a 1974 animated Christmas television special produced by Rankin/Bass Productions and based on the famous 1823 poem that opens with this line. The special first originally aired on CBS on December 8, 1974 where it aired annually until 1994, when The Family Channel (now Freeform) took over its syndication rights. AMC took over syndication rights for the special in 2018.
Although the opening credits mention "told and sung by Joel Grey", it is really narrated by George Gobel, as there is more emphasis on the point of view of Father Mouse, with Moore's poem read by Grey as a secondary plot.
The program is set in the fictional town of Junctionville, New York around the turn of the 20th century. Santa Claus is offended by an anonymous letter printed in the town's newspaper (and signed "all of us") claiming that he doesn't exist. In response, Santa returns the entire town's letters to them unopened. Upon reading the anonymous letter printed in the newspaper, Father Mouse — a mouse assistant to the human clockmaker Joshua Trundle — immediately suspects that his brainy, college student son Albert is its author. Albert confirms his suspicions, repeating the letter verbatim to him.
Father Mouse and the Trundle Family devise a plan to appease Santa by building a singing clock tower for him, built with a special recording to play a song to coax him not to bypass Junctionville on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, Albert enters the clock to explore it without permission, and inadvertently causes it to malfunction in front of the whole town, seriously damaging Trundle's professional reputation. Furthermore, the Mayor, publicly embarrassed at the clock tower's failure, refuses to give Joshua access to it for repairs.
Confessing his mistake, Albert volunteers to repair it himself and Father Mouse tells Joshua of the situation before waiting at his bed with worry on Christmas Eve. Although Albert does not complete his task until about one minute after the midnight deadline, the clock does play its song within earshot of Santa which convinces him to turn around and come to town after all.
- George Gobel as Father Mouse (primary narrator)
- Joel Grey as Joshua Trundle (secondary narrator)
- Tammy Grimes as Albert
- John McGiver as the Mayor of Junctionville
- Robert McFadden as Substation Operator, Councilmen, Handyman
- Allen Swift as Santa Claus
- Pat Bright as Sarah Trundle/Mother Mouse
- Christine Winter as Girl/Girl Mouse
- Scott Firestone as Boy/Boy Mouse
- The Wee Winter Singers as the Chorus
- Written by Jerome Coopersmith, Larz Bourne
- Based on the Poem by Clement Moore
- Music: Maury Laws
- Lyrics: Jules Bass
- Produced and Directed by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass
- Associate Producer: Mary Alice Dwyer-Dobbin
- Editorial Supervision: Irwin Goldress, Vincent Juliano
- Design: Paul Coker Jr.
- Sound Engineers: Don Hahn, Tom Brennand, John Curcio
- Sound Effects: Tom Clack
- Animation Production - Topcraft, Japan
- Storyboard Artist: Takashi Hisaoka
- Animation Direction: Tokiji Kaburaki, Kazuyuki Kobayashi, Hidemi Kubo
- Key Animation: Katsumi Aoshima, Hiroshi Oikawa
- Animation: Toru Hara, Tsuguyuki Kubo
- Layout Artist: Yoshinori Kanemori
- Background Designs: Minoru Nishida
- Background Artist: Kazusuke Yoshihara
- Technical Direction: Kôichi Sasaki, Katsuhisa Yamada
- Musical Director: Maury Laws
There are three musical numbers in the program:
- "Give Your Heart a Try" - Father Mouse (George Gobel)
- "Even a Miracle Needs a Hand" - Joshua Trundle (Joel Grey), Albert (Tammy Grimes)
- "Christmas Chimes are Calling (Santa, Santa)" - Chorus
In popular culture
"Even a Miracle Needs a Hand" later appeared on South Park in the Season 4 episode "A Very Crappy Christmas". Similar to its use in the original special, the song is sung by Kyle to Stan and Kenny during a seemingly hopeless situation. At one point, Joshua Trundle's face is even superimposed over Kyle's face.
Like many of Rankin/Bass' other animated TV specials, this special was animated in Japan by the animation studio Topcraft, which was rolled into Studio Ghibli in 1985.
The special was originally first issued on VHS by ABC Video Enterprises and Golden Book Video in 1987. After Lorimar was purchased by Time Warner, Warner Home Video/Warner Bros. Family Entertainment (owners of the post-1974 Rankin/Bass library), re-released the special on VHS in 1990, and on DVD in 2004, paired with the 1976 special Frosty's Winter Wonderland. A Blu-ray was released on October 5, 2011. It is also available on iTunes for purchase.
- ^ Rankin/Bass' "Twas the Night Before Christmas" on Records|Cartoon Research
- ^ Crump, William D. (2019). Happy Holidays—Animated! A Worldwide Encyclopedia of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Cartoons on Television and Film. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 324. ISBN 9781476672939.
- ^ BCDB
- ^ "AMC PRESENTS ITS LARGEST SLATE OF HOLIDAY PROGRAMMING WITH "AMC BEST CHRISTMAS EVER"". 8 November 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
- ^ "South Park" A Very Crappy Christmas (TV Episode 2000)-Connections-IMDb
- ^ WB Shop
- 1974 in American television
- 1974 television specials
- 1970s American animated films
- 1970s American television specials
- 1970s animated television specials
- CBS television specials
- Christmas television specials
- Films scored by Maury Laws
- Television shows directed by Jules Bass
- Television shows directed by Arthur Rankin Jr.
- Santa Claus in television
- Television shows based on poems
- Works based on A Visit from St. Nicholas
- Rankin/Bass Productions television specials
- Animated Christmas television specials