HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Sweat
Quiet Place Part II, A
Nobody
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Mandibles
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Triggered
Claw
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
Hall
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Superhost
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Misha and the Wolves
Yellow Cat
Shorta
Knocking
Bloodthirsty
When the Screaming Starts
Sweetie, You Won't Believe It
Lions Love
Demonic
Night Drive
Luca
Prospect
Toll, The
Last Bus, The
Purple Sea
   
 
Newest Articles
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
   
 
  Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July It not only glows, it fights evil!
Year: 1979
Director: Arthur Rankin, Jules Bass
Stars: Billie Mae Richards, Paul Frees, Thurl Ravenscroft, Candy Candido, Red Buttons, Darlene Conley, Shelby Flint, Ethel Merman, Don Messick, Harold Peary, Mickey Rooney, Alan Sues, Jackie Vernon, Shelley Winters
Genre: Musical, Animated, Fantasy, Adventure, TV MovieBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: At the North Pole, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (voiced by Billie Mae Richards) is hanging out with fellow Christmas icon Frosty the Snowman (Jackie Vernon) and the latter's cute lil' snow kids, Chilly and Milly, when the unthinkable happens. His nose stops glowing! Only for a short while although Rudolph wisely suspects something sinister is afoot. Sure enough it so happens the evil ice king Winterbolt (voice actor extraordinaire Paul Frees in one of four roles) bears a grudge against the little reindeer. Long ago the ancient entity ruled the snowy wastes until banished by the arrival of the good spirit Lady Borealis. In time Lady Borealis faded from the earthly plane. To keep Winterbolt at bay she put the last of her magic in the nose of the newborn baby Rudolph. Now Winterbolt hatches a dastardly plan to ensure Rudolph and Frosty won't stop him enslaving the world. Yikes!

The third Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer stop-motion holiday special from Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass was also a sequel to the duo's cel-animated classic Frosty the Snowman (1969). Never mind Batman v. Superman, Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July was a team-up for the ages, this time with a vaguely patriotic bent. The title referred to the fourth of July, American Independence Day as the crazy, convoluted plot had Rudolph team up with Frosty and family to help a struggling circus run by sharp-shooting show-woman Lilly Lorraine (Ethel Merman at her brassiest) stage a celebratory show, among many other strange twists and turns.

Original voice-actors Billie Mae Richards and Jackie Vernon reprised their iconic roles one last time alongside a roster of Hollywood musical greats including, inevitably, Mickey Rooney. Back once again as Santa Claus after Here Comes Santa Claus (1970) and The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974). Indeed the Mickster would return to voice Santa one final time in the very last Rankin-Bass holiday special: A Miser Brothers' Christmas (2008). Christmas in July included an origin story for Santa. Flashbacks presented a svelte and ginger, young Saint Nick making his trek to the North Pole as stalwart studio scribe Romeo Muller shifted the character subtly away from commercial icon into an emblem of human kindness. Rankin-Bass later expanded these ideas in their intriguingly mystical The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1985). Mickey Rooney sat that one out. Big mistake. Muller rewrote Rudolph's origin too, transforming his famous red nose from mere biological anomaly to a mystical talisman to ward off evil(!) We also learn Winterbolt was behind the snowstorm that nearly derailed Santa's Christmas sleigh ride till Rudolph stepped in back in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964).

By this point Rankin-Bass were making the transition from cute and cuddly holiday fare to crafting increasingly ambitious fantasies like The Hobbit (1977), The Last Unicorn (1982) and The Flight of Dragons (1982). Hence Christmas in July combines traditional cosy sing-along Christmas antics with a labyrinthine fantasy story inspired by Nordic sagas and pagan ideas about nature reminiscent of C.S. Lewis at his trippiest. Muller fashions a surprisingly potent allegory casting Christmas as a light in the gloom when humanity rallies to end the tyranny of spring and bring hope for the New Year. There is an appealing emphasis on the true ideals of Christmas: kindness, generosity and love and subtle put-down of the seasonal urge to binge and spend. Poor Rudolph really does get put through the emotional wringer this time around. Framed for robbery, shunned by friends, tricked into losing his powers, he becomes a quasi-Christ-like martyr hero! Johnny Mercer's easy listening musical numbers reprise several classics from the early films (true to form Broadway diva Ethel Merman cranks it up to eleven) but also reflects the more challenging, morally complex tone as when Rudolph sings 'Bed of Roses', a song about making the hard choices in life and doing the wrong thing for the right reasons.

At a little over an hour and a half Christmas in July is practically an epic by Rankin-Bass standards. The animation is more elaborate without sacrificing the handmade charm of the original shorts, juxtaposing dragons, wizards and strange supernatural beings with delightful circus animals. No Rankin-Bass outing would be complete without an array of eccentric supporting characters. Here we have the return of Big Ben the Clockwork Whale (Harold Peary) and Jack Frost (Paul Frees again) along with newcomer Milton the Ice Cream Man voiced by Red Buttons. Milton proves the catalyst for the plot as it is his love for beautiful tightrope walker Laine Lorraine (Lily's daughter), voiced by singer-songwriter Shelby Flint, that spurs Rudolph and Frosty to lend the circus a hand. In a delightful sequence Lily sings 'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree' perched atop a revolving tree surrounded by dancing toys. Also memorable, for different reasons, is a bizarre scene where Winterbolt springs Scratcher (Alan Sues), the naughty reindeer, from an ice prison for evil animals! What did that walrus do?


Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2111 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Jules Bass  (1935 - )

American animator and producer who, after a career in advertising, set up a company with Arthur Rankin to create animated specials for television, such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. From the sixties onwards, they created a few films for cinema, such as Daydreamer, Mad Monster Party?, Flight of Dragons and The Last Unicorn. Also a composer of songs.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: