Next up in Rankin/Bass month is the 1974 short ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. This is a traditional animation take on the 1823 poem of the same name. The poem of course opens with the line ‘not a creature was stirring not even a mouse’. Well, this movie takes that quite literally and tells the story of both man and mouse in the house.
While the animation isn’t the best (particularly the eyes look strange throughout on the characters), this is a really cute entry from the Rankin/Bass team. It basically tells the story of a human cloc maker named Joshua Trundle who works with a mouse called Father Mouse to make the clocks. Unfortunately the mouse son Albert is overthinking Christmas and has written an editorial in the paper claiming Santa is a fraud.
Unfortunately Santa reads the letter and is offended and decides to send back all the town’s Santa letters, both mouse and human, and skip their Christmas all together, which is quite extreme when you think about it but it works!
So the mice must help appease Santa and convince Albert to believe in things he can’t see or explain with science. The plan is quite elaborate where they will build a singing clock that will entice Santa to come to their town after all. Albert eventually see’s the error of his ways and agrees to go inside the clock and repair it. It’s really a sweet little story here. Nothing that will blow you away but it is cute and has a nice message. It’s definitely not subtle but none of these specials are and this one surprised me with the creative storytelling without being too weird. I also felt like they treated Albert’s lack of a belief more kindly than some other more Christian based films might have.
The music is nice and the vocal performances by Joel Grey, George Gobel and John McGiver are all very pleasant. It’s only 25 minutes and so I would give it a watch if you get a chance. Its really adorable.