|'Twas the Night Before Christmas|
|Based on||A Visit from St. Nicholas|
by Clement Clarke Moore
|Written by||Jerome Coopersmith|
|Directed by||Arthur Rankin, Jr.|
|Narrated by||George Gobel (main story)|
Joel Grey (poem sequence)
|Theme music composer||Maury Laws|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Producers||Arthur Rankin, Jr.|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Production companies||Rankin/Bass Productions|
|Original release||December 8, 1974|
'Twas the Night Before Christmas is a 1974 animated Christmas television special produced by Rankin/Bass Productions and 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 Freeform) took over its syndication rights. AMC took over syndication rights for the special in 2018.
Although the opening crs 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 as a secondary plot.
The program is set in the fictional town of Junctionville, New York 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 — a mouse assistant to the human clockmaker Joshua Trundle — immediately suspects that his brainy, college student son Albert is its author. Albert 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 causes it to malfunction in front of the whole town, seriously damaging Trundle's professional reputation. Furthermore, the Mayor, publicly embarrassed at the clock tower's failure, refuses to give Joshua 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:
"Even a Miracle Needs a Hand" later appeared on South Park in the Season 4 episode "A Very Crappy Christmas". Similar to its use in the original special, the song is sung by Kyle to Stan and Kenny during a seemingly hopeless situation. At one point, Joshua Trundle's face is even superimposed over Kyle's face.
The special was originally first issued on VHS by ABC Video Enterprises and Golden Book Video in 1987. After Lorimar was purchased by Time Warner, Warner Home Video/Warner Bros. Family Entertainment (owners of the post-1974 Rankin/Bass library), re-released the special on VHS in 1990, and on DVD in 2004, 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.
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