Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974 TV special)
|Twas the Night Before Christmas|
|Starring||Joel Grey (voice) as Joshua Trundle
George Gobel (voice) as Father Mouse
John McGiver (voice) as the Mayor
|Country of origin||United States
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television|
’Twas the Night Before Christmas is a 1974 Rankin-Bass animated Christmas television special 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 ABC Family) took over its syndication rights.
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 a secondary plot.
Set in the fictional town of Junctionville, NY 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 (voiced by George Gobel) — a mouse assistant to the human clockmaker Joshua Trundle (voiced by Joel Grey, the credited narrator) — immediately suspects that his brainy son Albert is its author. Albert (voiced by Tammy Grimes) 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 damages it seriously, thus rendering it inoperable and seriously damaging Trundle's professional reputation. Furthermore, the mayor (voiced by John McGiver), publicly embarrassed at the clock tower's failure, refuses to give the clockmaker 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.
There are three musical numbers in the program: "Give Your Heart a Try" (sung by George Gobel and the chorus), "Even a Miracle Needs a Hand" (sung by Joel Grey) and "Christmas Chimes are Calling" (sung by the chorus).
The special has been issued on VHS, as well as on DVD 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.
- 'Twas the Night Before Christmas at the Internet Movie Database
- 'Twas the Night Before Christmas at TV.com