Frosty the Snowman (film)
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|Frosty the Snowman|
|Based on||Frosty the Snowman|
|Written by||Romeo Muller|
|Directed by||Jules Bass
Arthur Rankin, Jr.
|Starring||Billy De Wolfe
|Narrated by||Jimmy Durante|
|Theme music composer||Maury Laws|
|Country of origin||United States
Arthur Rankin, Jr.
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Rankin/Bass Productions
|Distributor||NBCUniversal Television Distribution|
|Original release||December 7, 1969|
|Followed by||Frosty's Winter Wonderland|
Frosty the Snowman is a 1969 animated Christmas television special based on the song "Frosty the Snowman". The program, which first aired on December 7, 1969 on CBS (where it still airs to this day), was produced for television by Rankin/Bass Productions and featured the voices of comedians Jimmy Durante as the film's narrator (Durante's final performance in a film) and Jackie Vernon as the title character.
Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass wanted to give the show and its characters the look of a Christmas card, so Paul Coker, Jr., a greeting card and Mad magazine artist, was hired to do the character and background drawings. The animation was produced by Mushi Production in Japan, with then-Mushi staffer Osamu Dezaki among the animation staff.
On the first snowfall before Christmas; proclaimed by the narrator to be magic snow, a group of school children are to be entertained by a magician hired by their teacher named Professor Hinkle. However, he proves to be inept and is upstaged by his rabbit Hocus Pocus, who pops out of his hat. Angry when the children prefer to go outside to play rather than watch his act, he decides to throw the hat away. Outside, the children build a snowman complete with a corncob pipe and two eyes made from coal, dubbing him Frosty, but when Hinkle's wayward hat is placed on top of his head by Karen, he surprisingly comes to life in front of them and Hinkle. Hinkle; seeing that his hat contains real magic, takes it back and leaves. As he makes his way through town however, Hocus escapes with the hat and returns it to the children who return Frosty to life. Their play is short lived, however as the temperature is beginning to rise, causing Frosty to worry that he will melt. Karen comes up with the solution by taking him to the North Pole, and Frosty leads the children on a parade through town, but once they get to the station, realize they don't have enough money to buy a train ticket. They spot a refrigerated box car which is on a train headed north, Frosty boards and Karen decides to go with him. Unbeknownst to them however, Hinkle stows away, swearing to get his hat back.
Noticing that Karen is freezing in the box car, Frosty takes advantage of a stop in order to get her to some place warm. Hinkle notices them leave, but is delayed when he falls from the train and is left behind. Frosty has Hocus implore the animals of the forest to build a campfire in order to warm her, but Hinkle soon shows up and puts out the fire, drawing Frosty out of the nearby woods to threaten to take his hat back. Frosty and Karen escape Hinkle, sliding down the mountain until coming to a stop in front of a greenhouse used to grow Christmas poinsettias. Frosty takes a brief moment to escort Karen in, but Hinkle closes the door behind them. Meanwhile, Santa Claus arrives in the forest and Hocus leads him to the greenhouse. However, they come across a sad sight; Karen crying over the puddle that used to be Frosty, but Santa assures her that the snow he is made of is magic, and opens the door, allowing the winter winds to collect the puddle and they reform Frosty's body. Before they can restore the hat, however, Hinkle tries to take it back. Santa threatens Hinkle with no more Christmas presents as long as he lives; humbled by this threat, Hinkle is told to return home and write "I am very sorry for what I did to Frosty" one-hundred-zillion times and he hastily agrees to do so, running off into the night.
After she is returned home, Karen bids a tearful farewell to Frosty as Santa takes him to the North Pole, but he promises to return. In a final montage, Frosty and the children perform a fine parade through town on Christmas. As Frosty boards Santa's sleigh again, he promises that "I'll be back on Christmas Day!" as he is flown off into the sky for another year.
- Jackie Vernon as Frosty
- Jimmy Durante (Narrator)
- June Foray as Karen, schoolteacher, and Karen's friends; Karen's non-singing lines were re-dubbed by an unknown actress for later releases of the film
- Billy De Wolfe as Professor Hinkle (The Magician)
- Paul Frees as the traffic cop, ticket man, and Santa Claus
- Produced and Directed by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass
- Written by Romeo Muller
- Based on the Original Song by Steve Nelson, Jack Rollins © 1954 Hill-Range Songs
- Production Designer: Paul Coker, Jr.
- Continuity Designer: Don Duga
- Animation Production by Mushi Studio
- Supervising Director: Steve Nakagawa
- Animation Director: Osamu Dezaki (uncredited)
- Animation: Akio Sugino, Sadao Miyamoto (both uncredited)
- Music Composed and Directed by Maury Laws
- Sound Effects Enigneers: Jim Harris, Phil Kaye
- Supervising Film Editing: Irwin Goldress
© 1969 Videocraft International Limited
Released by Rhino on October 1, 2002, the entire audio portion of Frosty the Snowman is available on CD along with the entire audio portion of Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, the Rankin/Bass special produced in 1970. This edition contains the full dialogue and song audio of both specials.
The track listing is as follows:
- Medley: Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town...Be Prepared To Pay 25:18
- Medley: Put One Foot In Front Of The Other...Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town (finale) 24:55
- Frosty The Snowman Theme & Narration (Beginning) 13:45
- Frosty The Snowman Theme & Narration (Conclusion) 11:48
- Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town (Soundtrack Version) 1:50
- Frosty The Snowman (Soundtrack Version) 1:04
In the United States, CBS continues to hold the telecast rights to the original program (under license from the current copyright holder, Universal Television, and still airs it yearly with the CBS-produced sequel Frosty Returns (see below). The CBC holds broadcast rights in Canada. The special also airs on Freeform in some territories. However, CBS does not own the telecast rights to the 1976 sequel Frosty's Winter Wonderland (that special currently airs on Freeform's 25 Days of Christmas each year), which prompted CBS to produce its own "sequel" of sorts, Frosty Returns (see below).
VHS and LaserDisc
Family Home Entertainment released Frosty the Snowman on VHS as part of the Christmas Classics Series in 1989 and 1993, with multiple re-prints throughout the 1990s. It was paired with the The Little Drummer Boy on LaserDisc in 1992. Upon its 1989 and 1993 releases, the special was also bundled in box sets with the other Rankin/Bass Christmas specials including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, the 1973 Chuck Jones holiday special, A Very Merry Cricket and the sequel Frosty Returns which aired on CBS in 1992. In 1998, Sony Wonder and Golden Books Family Entertainment released the special on VHS, and also paired it with these other Rankin/Bass Christmas specials including Cricket on the Hearth in the separate Holiday Classics Collection box sets.
DVD and Blu-ray
The special was also released on DVD by Sony Wonder and Classic Media in 2002 and 2004, and by Genius Entertainment in 2007. Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment released it on DVD and Blu-ray on October 12, 2010, and on the DVD/Blu-ray combo pack on November 6, 2012. Most DVD releases also include Frosty Returns. On September 8, 2015, Classic Media released both the special and Santa Claus is Comin' to Town in their 45th Anniversary Collector's Edition on Blu-ray and DVD in addition to the 50th Anniversary release of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in 2014.
- The engine on the train is a 2-2-2 or an American type steam locomotive. Locomotives of this wheel arrangement were used most common during the 1800s on American railroads, and from the 1830s until 1928, were given the name "American" in 1872, because of how they did all the work of every railroad in the United States. These types of engines have six wheels (two leading wheels, two driving wheels, and two trailing wheels).
Frosty returned in several sequels:
- Frosty's Winter Wonderland - This 1976 sequel by Rankin/Bass was also written by Romeo Muller. Narration is provided by Andy Griffith (Durante had suffered a stroke that had forced his retirement in 1972). Jackie Vernon once again reprised his role as the voice of Frosty. Animation is produced by Topcraft in Japan. Unlike the original, the sequel takes place later in the winter season and is based upon the 1934 song "Winter Wonderland;" it features Frosty's pursuit of a wife and efforts to preserve him into the springtime. Furthermore, it makes no mention whatsoever of Christmas; in fact it could be considered more a "winter solstice" special than a Christmas special as it celebrates the season of winter.
- Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July - This 1979 Rankin/Bass feature-length sequel was filmed in "Animagic" stop-motion animation in the style of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Rudolph's Shiny New Year. While the Frosty specials were 30 minutes long, and the Rudolph specials were 60 minutes, this ambitious special was feature length, at 97 minutes long (120 minutes on television, including commercials). Vernon once again played the role of Frosty, in his last time for Rankin/Bass playing the voice of Frosty. This film features Frosty and his family as supporting characters. This is the only other Frosty cartoon to mention Christmas or Santa Claus in addition to the 1969 original.
- Frosty Returns - This 1992 half-hour special is not truly a sequel to the 1969 classic, as it was produced not by Rankin/Bass but by CBS. The characters, setting, voices and animation (by Bill Melendez) are vastly different. Despite this, it is shown with the original special every year on CBS and was even included as a bonus on its DVD release. John Goodman provides the voice of Frosty in this special, and Jonathan Winters serves as narrator. Frosty's appearance is physically different, his personality and humor have changed, and he has the ability to live without his top hat, in direct contrast with the original and its other sequels. Also in contrast to the original specials, the special avoids all mention of Christmas (despite the special portraying the beginning of winter) and has an environmentalist theme, as Frosty works to stop a corporate executive whose product wipes out snow packs with one spray.
- The Legend of Frosty the Snowman - This 2005 straight-to-video film was produced by Classic Media, the previous rights holder for the original Rankin/Bass special, and the remainder of their pre-1974 library. This movie has been bundled with the original 1969 Rankin/Bass special and the CBS sequel, and has also aired on Cartoon Network. The appearance of Frosty resembles much more the Rankin/Bass character design from their original animation, and Professor Hinkle returns in two cameo appearances - shown in a picture and flashback. Frosty is voiced by Bill Fagerbakke, best known as the voice of Patrick Star on SpongeBob SquarePants. And it, like Frosty Returns and Frosty's Winter Wonderland, also never mentions anything to do with Christmas whatsoever.
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