44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2000
First, let's clear up one fact, this is NOT Claymation.It is STOP MOTION animation. Claymation has figures made of clay that are filmed one frame at a time. Stop motion has 3 dimentional puppets that are animated one frame at a time like the Ray Harryhousen figures in King Kong, Jason and the Argonaughts etc. There is a vast differance in the techniques.
This fact aside, "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" is the very best of the wonderful Rankin/Bass specials. The designer for the series of holiday specials, Paul Coker, has done an exceptional job with these delightful wooden and plastic creations. We see Kris Kringle develope from a foundling baby to the Santa figure so well known today. Each stage of his development is wonderful. But then, each of the characters is designed and executed perfectly. Watch the delightful changes of the Winter Worlock from mean and evil to mellow and fun.
All the animation is smooth and precise giving the excellent illusion that these figures are actually alive.
The songs are excellent, from the familiar "Santa Claus is Coming To Town" to the lovely "My World Is Beginning Today" sung by Jessica, the future Mrs. Santa. (For some strange reason, this delightful song is often cut when this production is shown on TV, luckily it is included in the tape.)
The script couldn't be better giving explanations for most of the Santa legends such as how he got his name, how reindeer can fly, why he comes down chimneys and fills stockings. It can make a believer out of even Ebenezer Scrooge.
This has been my absolute favorite Christmas video since I first saw it many years ago on TV. It was one of the reasons I bought my first VCR so I could make a tape of it before it was commercially available. I even have an old LP recording of the complete show. So, do I recommend it, the answer is a resounding YES!!!!!
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 1999
"Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" (Rankin/Bass Productions, 1970) is a true Christmas classic. A quintessential "animagic" or "clay-mation" production, it features the talents of Fred Astaire (who narrates the story as postman Special Delivery Kluger), Mickey Rooney (Kris Kringle), Keenan Wynn (Winter Warlock), and Paul Frees (Burgermeister Meisterburger). Frees is absolutely brilliant as the voice of the Burgermeister of the village of Sombertown, which presumably is in Scandinavia. In brief, the film explains the origins of various aspects of the legend of Santa Claus through an original story. People of all ages will enjoy "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town." Children will love the animation and the story. The rest of us appreciate that as well as the hilarious moments when Kris Kringle expresses surprise (watch his eyes swell to giant coal-black circles!). For anyone who grew up in the 1970s or 1980s, this is a gem of the pop culture of our time. It's highly recommended for anyone who has enjoyed other Rankin/Bass classics such as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "The Little Drummer Boy."
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town came to ABC first in 1970, when Rankin/Bass was firing on all cylinders. The visual difference between this production and that of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is considerable, especially with regard to the immense, detailed sets and more intricate characters, designed by Paul Coker, Jr. Yes, there is the same animation "on two's and three's" as well as a few modest effects, but everything clicks within the brisk 51 minutes, none of which seem padded.
When I asked him to name a favorite special (in The Cartoon Music Book) Musical director/composer Maury Laws called this his favorite, because he thought every element was perfect, from the cast to the script to the overall feel. Fred Astaire proved added another dimension to his legendary career as one of the best narrators in any special. Mickey Rooney's bravado was ideal for the young Kris Kringle. Keenan Wynn's Winter Warlock was memorable (especially when he gets the choo-choo). And our beloved Robie Lester (read Mouse Tracks for more about her) was the show-stopper when, as Jessica, she undid the proverbial bun and belted out her solo, a great tune in a score that hasn't a dud in the bunch (though sadly, in today's more creepy times, "Be Prepared to Pay" may seem to take on an odd -- thoroughly unintentional -- connotation).
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town is so spectacular that it's the visual crown jewel in the trilogy with Rudolph and Frosty. And sure, it adds yet another set of myths to confuse those trying to figure out the origin of Santa.
In this case, the story springs from the mind of writer Romeo Muller, but I wonder if, like Rudolph, this special contains a nod to its cultural context. In 1970, Richard Nixon was president, the war was raging and the counterculture was questioning. Kris and Jessica become outlaws and get married in a forest like hippies (since no town would welcome them), and the Burgermeister does resemble Nixon a little. I even noticed that, when Kris says "It's not even safe here," they're standing among the burned remains of what might have been their small camp -- we get a quick glimpse and then it's gone with no other mention. This is the story of Santa as a revolutionary against political oppression.
Okay, enough with the term paper hypotheses. This is Rankin/Bass at their best and glows like a shimmering holiday display on Blu-Ray.For more about Rankin/Bass and Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, check out the books and blog of author/expert Rick Goldschmidt, who helped save the peppermint mine scene.
NOTE: If you have the original DVD of Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, you may want to hang onto to it, though, because the Blu-ray contains no extras.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2000
This wonderful 1970 video, using stop-motion animation, tells the story of Santa Claus in a most delightful way. The story is narrated by Fred Astaire, with character voices by Keenan Wynn and Mickey Rooney. The music is marvelous and the story is enchanting. It answers the burning questions we all have about Santa. Why is he called Kris Kringle? Why does he wear a red suit and have whiskers? How did he meet Mrs. Klaus? How did he come to bring toys to children by going down the chimey and why is his workshop at the North Pole? What is the origin of Christmas trees and how do reindeer fly?
All these great mysteries are revealed in this magical tale about Christmas' most famous and beloved figure. It follows his life from the time he was an infant all the way to the jolly and rotund fellow we know and love today.
This charming story is an excellent addition to any child's holiday collection. I rate it a 10/10. It is one of my favorite Christmas shorts and it is perfect for children from two to ninety two years old.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2008
Whats good about alot of these Christmas DVD's that have come out in the last few years is that they present the specials in their original form. One hour TV specials from the sixties and seventies have gone through some edits over the years, most notably the Rankin Bass specials, such as Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, and this: Santa Claus is Comin To Town.
I watched this one on TV the other night with my kid. He really enjoyed it, as it is one of those timeless Christmas shows that every kid loves at Christmas.
But there was an entire musical number cut from the TV presentation. Perhaps you remember when Jessica (the sexy puppet, who eventually becomes Mrs. Claus) has to free Kris Kringle from jail. And in doing this, she is struck with intense liberation and sexual feelings for him, that cause her to let her hair down out of it's bun for the first time ever (she was kind of a stuck up school teacher at the beggining, remember?) and dance around and sing in this psychedelic flower garden-fantasy sequence.
It is the most out of place scene in the movie, and I guess I can understand the network execs desicion in leaving it out (ABC is Disney owned these days) it's probably considered either too controversial, or just too dated,... or the fact that it looks like most cartoon animators in the seventies were on tons of acid, I'm not sure. But at any rate, as somewhat of an obsessive when it comes to small details, I couldn't get over the fact that the scene was just gone. This happens alot lately on TV. I watched Willy Wonka on TV with my kid one time and noticed that the entire psychedelic boat ride scene was chopped.
But thats what really makes the DVDs a good bet with these spcials. I'm a kid of the eighties. I have no real recollection of what the sixties/seventies were all about but I like the style. For you peeps out there that do remember, you should appreciate the uncut renditions of these specials found on DVD. It is the only way to ensure that your kids, and your kids kids, never forget just how flipping strange you people were in the seventies. Thank you. Much love and Merry Christmas. Now put that foot in front of the other and get this thing...
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2000
just in case you're wondering if this is the video you remember from when you were a kid... This is the one that tells the whole story of Santa from birth, adoption by elves, meeting the winter warlock (put one foot in front of the other...), saves the kids of sombertown from a toy-less christmas at the hands of the evil Burgermeister, meets and marries Mrs. Clause, etc. Absolutely the best Christmas video i've ever seen.
28 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2005
I sure don't know what Sony/Classic Media was thinking when they put trash like a dumb Mariah Carey music video on a Christmas classic like this.First of all,they ruin the Rudolph DVD now they wreck the Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town DVD...what's next, Frosty? These are supposed to be traditional Christmas classics so why in the hell would they add this junk to these wonderful shows...Shame on you Sony/Classic Media!!! Maybe, some year we will get these classics on DVD without the B.S. C'mon Sony do it right for a change!
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2005
THE STORY: Starting off with a newsreel on the children of the world preparing for a visit from Santa Claus, we meet a mailman named Special Delivery Kluger. After some introductory comments from the mailman, who delivers to the North Pole in a snowcat type vehicle, we see the credits spelled out on mail envelopes, with a stamp representing the actor listed. Inside the envelopes are question from children around the world about Santa. "Where did Santa's suit come from?", and more, so that the show can proceed to show where Santa got his start and why things are the way they are. In a sad vilage named Sombertown, ruthlessly run by the Burgermeister Meisterberger, toys are outlawed. On the other side of the mountain, elves are raising a human orphan boy, learned in the ways of toymaking. But a scary Winter Warlock has prevented them from delivering toys across the mountain. Whenthe boy grows up he is givent he name Kris Kringle, and he determines to deliver the toys. Arriving there he meets Ms. Jessica and falls in love, but Kris is arrested for the toys. After his escape he runs into the Winter Warlock, and must find a way to deal with him if he is going to deliver toys. Without giving any plot away, Kris has to find creative ways to smeak the toys to the children and avoid being captured again by the soldiers. Along the way we see how traditions like hanging stockings, using the chimney, delivering at night, making reindeer fly, and a nice/naughty list got their start.
BEHIND THE SCENES:Rankin/Bass studios was the most prolific creators of holiday specials we have ever known. After the huge success of their 1964 stop motion musical Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, they created no less than 14 more Christmas specials, from a total of 35 specials of which many covered other holidays. In 1970 audiences were eager to see what the clever studio would come up with next, their last picture had been Frosty the Snowman the year before in traditional cel animation. As much as viewers enjoyed Frosty, they really liked the stop motion "Animagic" that was the specialty of the studio. The only TV specials they made this process so far were Rudolph, and The Little Drummer Boy. The new show aired on ABC on December 14, 1970 and it was in Animagic! It was a one hour special, and it recieved huge ratings. It still airs every year.
This special had the best voice casting of any they made, with Mickey Rooney as the older Santa, Paul Frees as Burgermeister, and Keenan Wynn as the Winter Warlock. The Mailmans voice and songs were by the great Fred Astaire, and they recreated him perfectly in a mailman figure. There are 6 wonderful songs including the title song, as well as "One Foot in Front of the Other". The Westminster Childrens Choir performs as well. Music and lyrics were by Maury Laws and Jules Bass. Writing by the great Romeo Muller who worked on so many of their projects. Character design by Paul Coker, and storyboards and continuity by Don Duga as they did on most of the studios specials.
There are several releases on VHS, laserdisc, and DVD. All in all a terrific show, I highly reccommend.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2001
....like a hot cocoa with a shot of peppermint schnapps!
This is my favorite of all the Rankin/Bass specials (and they are all excellent). Many people get all the "Animagic" cartoons confused...so I'll try to pinpoint this one. This is not the one with Rudolph ("...the Red-Nosed Reindeer") and not the one with the Heat Miser and Snow Miser ("Year Without A Santa Claus"). This is the one with the toy-hating Burgermeister Meisterburger and.....the Winter Warlock!!
We get to see Santa Claus go from an orphaned baby raised by elves to a groovy, hip young adult who's outlawed for delivering toys to finally becoming the toy making/giving king of Christmas! We also get to see Mrs Claus as a groovilicious babe in her own right and she finally gets a name, Jessica.
Some charmingly dated scenes only add to the warm innocence of this show: like when Jessica realizes "her own town has turned against her" and begins singing of her love for and desire to be with Kris Kringle....transcending into a cornucopia of hippy-trippy flowers, swirls and polka-dots and finally catching a glimpse of her paper cutout reflection in the water fountain in the center of town. Remarkable!!
But, the show's main message is one of love and the courage to follow your heart and do what you know is right regardless of the obstacles that come in your way - so take that!....Burgermeister and Winter Warlock! Some touching moments, like when Kris and Jessica are married in the forest because no town would have them and one of the final scenes where we are shown the contrast of those who have no holiday spirit to Santa Claus, who gives of himself each year, are real tear-jerkers.
A wonderful Christmas special that no holiday season is complete without.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 1999
Those of us born in the 60s grew up on these clay animations. Technically, they don't hold a candle to the computer-animated wizardry of the 90s, but who cares. They are still well-done, great stories. And the trip down Christmas-memory lane . . . who can put a price on that? This one is my particular favorite. The music is great! "Put one foot in front of the other . . . "