- Directed by Larry Roemer
- Produced by Videocraft International, Ltd. (later known as Rankin/Bass Productions)
- December 6, 1964
- NBC / then CBS
- Rudolph-Billie Richards
- Hermey-Paul Soles
- Sam the Snowman-Burl Ives
- Yukon Cornelius-Larry Mann
- Santa Claus, King Moonracer-Stan Francis
- Fireball, Charlie-in-the-Box-Alfie Scopp
- Clarice-Janis Orenstein
- Donner, Comet-Paul Kligman
- Boss Elf, Misfit Elephant-Carl Banas
- Dolly for Sue-Corinne Conley
- Mrs. Claus, Mrs. Donner-Peg Dixon
- The Bumble, Clarice’s father-Bernard Cowan
A pair of misfits who do not fit in at the North Pole seek a place where they will.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the most classic of classic Christmas animations. It has earned every bit of nostalgia and love connected to it. It has heart. It is fun and bouncy. It is a high-quality piece of animation that is enjoyable for children and adults.
Dozens of features, animated and live action, have come out since this that drew their inspiration from Christmas songs, but none did it so well as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The Little Drummer Boy (1968/NBC), Frosty the Snowman (1969/CBS), Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1970/ABC), Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (2000/AMC, WB, The CW), It Came Upon the Midnight Clear (1984), and so many others but Rudolph did it first and did it best.
A child can watch this short film and not only get a Christmas vibe from it but also take away the lesson that just because someone is different does not mean that they are useless or that there is something wrong with them. Differences and disabilities should not be shunned. It is character that counts. You get a lesson while watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and do not even realize it until the end.
Rudolph and Hermey are the outcasts. Hermey because he does not want to follow the path that others have laid out for him and Rudolph because he has what could be viewed as a disability. At least as much of a disability as one could find in a child friendly program of the time. This assessment does not account for the mild retcon that came from the Avengers level crossover film Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July.
The process used in this Rankin/Bass production was called “Animagic.” Animation like this is art. This was painstakingly handcrafted. It was not done on somebody’s laptop somewhere. Heck the animators of the time could not even imagine being able to do anything on a device that would fit in a briefcase.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer moves rather swiftly and yet manages to not feel overstaffed. It will not overwhelm children, nor will it leave adults feeling as if there is anything lacking. The dialogue and narrative are family friendly yet does not talk down to any potential member of the audience. Modern creators aiming at a family audience either do not know how to do that or have forgotten that skill.
Each song is a classic and this movie is extremely quotable. “Jingle, Jingle, Jingle,” “We Are Santa’s Elves,” “There’s Always Tomorrow,” “We’re a Couple of Misfits,” “Silver and Gold,” “The Most Wonderful Day of the Year,” “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” and of course the titular “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” either premiered here or were used perfectly here. Who has not found themselves humming any one of these around Christmas?
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will give you a smile and you will find it just as enjoyable today as you did when you first watched it. That is a sign of a true classic. If you have not watched this then you should give it a look. And if you have seen it once or numerous times already then give it a watch again.