Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer premiered on network TV December 6, 1964, which makes it 44 years old. And yet its message seems as fresh and relevant as ever. Directed by Kizo Nagashima and Larry Roemer, this claymation classic continues to delight kids and grown-ups year after year.
How prescient the makers of Rudolph were to make a holiday special where the primary theme was tolerance (of differences) and power to the individual. Rudolph with his (flaming red nose!) and Hermey the wannabe dentist elf, are at first shunned by their peers, but ultimately persevere and hailed as the hero's of Christmas Eve.
Rudolph has something for everyone. I always found the story compelling, even gripping. There's the family drama between Rudolph and his good ole boy Dad, Donner. There's the beautiful romance between Rudolph and the gorgeous Clarice. For a cliff hanger (literally), you can't beat Bumble, the abominable snowman monster, and for comic relief, we have the irrepressible Yukon Cornelius. But at its core, Rudolph is a buddy piece, with Hermey the dentist and Rudolph off on a winter road trip and excellent adventure.
The most recognizable voice in this Christmas charmer is Burl Ives, who sings and narrates as Sam the Snowman. His "Holly Jolly Christmas" is at least as much of a holiday classic as Rudolph is.
Well it's Christmas Eve folks, and I'd like to wish all our loyal readers around the world a peaceful and happy holiday. I'm off to watch Rudolph again, as I always manage to miss it when it airs, but thankfully now have the DVD.