Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1948 film)

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Directed byMax Fleischer
Produced byMax Fleischer
Written byRobert L. May
Based onRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
by Robert L. May
StarringPaul Wing
Narrated byPaul Wing
Music by
CinematographyCharles Schettler
Animation by
Color processTechnicolor
Distributed byJam Handy Organization
Release date
  • November 11, 1948 (1948-11-11)
Running time
CountryUnited States

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a 1948 animated short film produced and directed by Max Fleischer for Jam Handy based on the 1939 Robert L. May poem of the same name, about a flying reindeer who helps Santa Claus.[1]


In the "hills", several reindeer children are busy having a fun time; ice skating, tree climbing, leap-frogging, even decorating a Christmas tree. One young reindeer decorating a tree spots a red object and, curious, tickles it with a leaf. It turns out to be Rudolph, who flops out of the tree with a sneeze. The reindeer who revealed him teases him over his shiny red nose, which hurts his feelings. When he tries to wrap the cushion to join the others on the ice, another snatches it away. Rejected and saddened after being teased and made fun of by the other reindeer children, Rudolph returns home where his mother greets him and tries to cheer him up by reminding him to hang his stocking for Santa. He quickly does so, imagining Santa giving him a lot of toys, and quickly goes to bed, though his sleep is incredibly fitful, saddened by the other reindeer's teasing and taunting.

Meanwhile in the North Pole, Santa Claus peeks out of his workshop and takes notice of the heavy fog, noting it would be tough to get though on his own. When the grandfather clock strikes midnight, Santa quickly rushes in to get his reindeer and get ready for the travel ahead. As they travel, Santa warns that they'd have to fly low to get through the fog, only to crash into some trees. The Reindeer get loose and they try again. Over a town, Santa and the reindeer nearly crash into an airplane and, a little later, crash onto a rooftop. The reindeer and sleigh are stuck on the roof, but they're able to break free.

Reaching Rudolph's house, Santa gives presents to a set of reindeer children, but is caught off-guard by the light in Rudolph's room, only to learn that it's Rudolph's shiny red nose. Surprised by this, he gets an idea and wakes Rudolph. Rudolph attempts to hide his nose, but Santa stops him and tells him of his perils. Agreeing to help him, Rudolph leaves a note for his parents before joining Santa on his journey, leading the other reindeer throughout the rest of the night.

The next morning, news of Rudolph's journey reaches his hometown and all the other reindeer race to a stadium where Santa appoints Rudolph as the commander-in-chief. Blushing from head to toe, Rudolph bashfully tells everyone "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night". [2]



This 8 minute animated interpretation of the Christmas poem preceded Gene Autry's 1949 song "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and the animated 1964 version. It was based on Robert L. May's 1939 story, rather than the song. [4] The 1964 film more closely resembles the song rather than the original story. [5]

This short film was created to advertise Montgomery Ward department stores, the publisher of the original story. The original release included a credit for the company, and it lacked the famous song, with the opening credits instead playing over an instrumental version of "Silent Night, Holy Night". The 1951 re-release of the film added a choral version of the song to the credits and removed the Montgomery Ward name.[6]

The 1951 reissue is widely available on public domain video tapes and DVDs, as well as on the Internet. The original version is stored at the Library of Congress, and it was posted online by them in 2014.[6]

In other media[edit]

The song and the scenes were added in Very Merry Christmas Songs, the Christmas video volume from Disney's Sing Along Songs.[7] It was also featured on Rifftrax in 2009.[8]


  1. ^ Crump, William D. (2019). Happy Holidays—Animated! A Worldwide Encyclopedia of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Cartoons on Television and Film. McFarland & Co. p. 259. ISBN 9781476672939.
  2. ^ FilmAffinity
  3. ^ Flickchart
  4. ^ Library of Congress Unveils ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ Restoration|Animation World Network
  5. ^ Rudolph the Red-Nosed
  6. ^ a b Mashon, Mike. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer's First Starring Film Role". Library of Congress Blogs: Now See Hear!. Retrieved 12 April 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Disney Sing-Along-Songs: Very Merry Christmas Songs (Video 1988)-Connections-IMDB
  8. ^ RiffTrax

See also[edit]

External links[edit]