We all know that when December arrives, the Christmas movies are soon to follow. And for those of us who celebrate the holiday, sometimes nothing is better than snuggling up in a cozy pair of PJ’s with a mug of cocoa as you turn on the Christmas specials that litter the TV channels. Whether you’re a Home Alone or Hallmark person, there’s a kind of movie that most of us probably remember but didn’t have a general name for; the Rankin/Bass specials. And they deserve to be watched every holiday season.
If you’re wondering what a Rankin/Bass movie is, let me give you a few examples. Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc. (named after co-directors Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass) is the company behind the stop-motion classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and The Little Drummer Boy, plus underrated classics such as The Year Without a Santa Claus and my absolute favorite special of all time, Jack Frost. All of these movies are in the classic stop-motion style that Rankin/Bass is known and identified by and you can usually find their most popular specials playing on various TV channels at various points around the holidays. Of course, if you’re lucky, you may find some of their other, more obscure specials, like Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey, Pinocchio’s Christmas or The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold, which I will leave up to your imagination.
So why should you take a moment to re-watch these specials this holiday season? Well first, they trigger a major nostalgia rush if you grew up with them. I did, and when I watched them again recently all of the songs came flooding back and I couldn’t help but smile at all the familiar scenes. Second, they do have very catchy songs. I can’t help but sing along to “One foot in Front of the Other,” “Silver and Gold,” or “Toymakers to the King.” But finally, I have yet to find any movies like them. The atmosphere they create with the stop motion animation, the facial expressions of the characters, and the plots give these movies a style and energy that is all their own and just dripping with holiday spirit and good feelings. So if you happen to see a few frames of stop-motion Christmas cheer when you’re channel surfing, I suggest you take a second and watch. Hopefully, it’ll bring a little extra cheer into your holiday.