Now That’s What I Call Kino #14 – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

After taking a much-needed time off in November, it’s time to resume the usual dabbing of classic gems that has graced the big or small screen from years past. We’ve left spooky season behind and have quite literally stepped into Christmas as the holiday season now begins. Whilst there are the obvious choices of Christmas classics that could be discussed, such as Miracle on 34th Street (1947) or It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) (which I’ve already written about here), this week’s column is taking a look at a TV special which has become a classic to American audiences – yet remains less discussed here in the UK – that being 1964’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Airing on December 6th, 56 years ago to the day, and coming in at just under 50 minutes long, this story is as old as most Christmas traditions themselves. Rudolph’s story has been retold in books, songs, etc. and it is no different in this stop-motion fable. What sparks this special with such joy and such memorability is the animation in itself. Having been produced and animated in Japan, the bright-eyed look of this holiday ensemble has been spoofed and parodied to wits end. It’s been used to promote phone companies, insurance, cars, the postal service as well as a Martin Scorsese parody that turns a humble snowman narrator Joe Pesci-like (  Whether you’ve seen it or not, this TV movie is instantly recognisable and, similar to other TV specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)or How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966), it is constantly aired throughout December in the US. Whilst British channels seem to prefer the UK-based favourites of Love, Actually (2003) or Nativity! (2009), these animated specials from the 1960s have been a part of American tradition for the past fifty years.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has had many different versions broadcast throughout the years but despite this, the film stays true to a warm Sunday feeling like no other. It has a sense of nostalgia to it, to a time of celebrating Christmas as a child which was quite frankly the most exciting time of all. It’s a cute family favourite which would be hard to ignore when deciding on something to watch with the family this season. Christmas often gets repetitive, with the same songs and films being shown consecutively each year, but Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is one of those aforementioned classics that seem to never get old no matter the amount of viewings.

Header Image Courtesy of CBS.