Posts Tagged ‘frosty the snowman

05
Dec
12

The Christmas Special Day 5: Frosty the Snowman (1969)

Frosty the Snowman - Copy

Directors: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.

Writer: Romeo Muller

Cast: Jimmy Durante, Billy DeWolfe, Jackie Vernon, Paul Frees, June Foray

Plot: Children’s entertainer Professor Hinkle (Billy DeWolfe) is perhaps the world’s worst performer, with tricks that won’t work and a rabbit named Hocus Pocus who won’t cooperate. After a failed show at an elementary school, the children race outside to build a snowman, whom they christen Frosty (Jackie Vernon). Hocus and Hinkle rush outside, where Hinkle throws his hat at the rabbit. It’s retrieved by one of the children, Karen (June Foray, again, proving that if there is a goddess of voice animation it’s her), who places it on Frosty’s head. The snowman snaps to life and bids everyone a happy birthday, but Hinkle snatches his hat back and leaves. Hocus steals the hat again and returns it to the children, who use it to bring Frosty to life again. He plays and dances with the children until he notices the temperature is rising, and he’s beginning to melt. Karen and the children promise to send him to the one place he’ll never melt: the North Pole. They parade through town to the train station to send him off (startling a traffic cop along the way) but are stumped when they realize they can’t possibly afford the ticket. At Hocus’s suggestion, Frosty and Karen hop into a refrigerated boxcar on a north-bound train. Hinkle, who realizes the hat has genuine magic power, hops on the same train, determined to steal it back.

When Frosty realizes the frozen car is making Karen sick, he and Hocus get off with her at the next stop. Hinkle jumps from the train so as not to lose them, crashing in the process. Karen is still in danger of freezing, so Hocus tries to rouse the local forest animals to build her a fire. Although Karen is safe for the moment, Frosty knows they need to find help soon, and Hocus suggests Santa Claus, who is scheduled to make his Christmas Eve rounds in mere hours. To keep her warm in the meantime, Frosty finds a greenhouse, but Hinkle manages to trap them both inside. When Santa arrives, Hocus brings him to the greenhouse, where Karen is safe, but in tears: Frosty has been reduced to a puddle with a corncob pipe and an old silk hat. Santa tells her that Frosty is made of magical Christmas snow, which can never go away forever. He uses his magic to rebuild Frosty, but before he places the hat upon his head, Hinkle shows up to demand its return. When Santa warns him he’ll never give him another Christmas present again if he hurts Frosty, Hinkle backs down and is sent away to write a massive apology. Santa places the hat back on Frosty’s head, restoring him to life. He takes Karen home and promises her that Frosty will return every year with the Christmas snow.

Thoughts: Frosty the Snowman gives us yet another case of Rankin and Bass magic, but this time, we’re going for traditional animation. This studio is much better known for their stop motion work, but they did several specials in this format, and later applied it to their version of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and 80s TV shows like Thundercats.

Like Rudolph and Little Drummer Boy, this film takes a classic song and gives us an expanded storyline to fill out its half-hour running time. The song even shares DNA with Rudolph – Gene Autry commissioned the piece from Walter Rollins as a follow-up to his earlier Christmas hit. And a hit it was, but like Rudolph, it needs some work to succeed as a narrative. The original song, let’s be honest here, doesn’t exactly have a riveting plot: Snowman gets magic hat, snowman comes to life, snowman starts to melt, snowman leaves. Hard to get a full-length special, and what’s more, there’s no antagonist.

That, in fact, is what really makes this special: Professor Hinkle. He’s a really entertaining bad guy, very different from the usual Rankin/Bass assortment of monsters, evil wizards, and misers. Hinkle is kind of a pathetic figure, but in a funny way. He’s utterly failed at life, he’s a disaster as a magician, but he seems to have more greed than genuine evil in him (despite his own protests to the contrary). Even as he’s trailing Frosty and Karen he has to keep reminding himself to “think nasty… think nasty…”

Looking back on this as an adult, you start to realize that Hocus Pocus, the rabbit, is actually a pretty lousy influence on the children. His refusal to work with his partner in the first place is what costs Professor Hinkle his hat. Hocus steals the hat later (for a good cause, perhaps, but it’s still theft). He convinces an underage girl to illegally board a train with a man she’s known for all of seventeen minutes, without so much as a phone call home to tell her parents not to worry. Yes, he technically helps to save her life multiple times, but seeing as how she would never have been in danger if not for him, it’s hard to give him too much credit for that.

Christmas is almost an afterthought in this special. It’s not really mentioned at all in the original song, and you’ve only got a quarter of the special left when it’s even mentioned that this is all taking place on Christmas Eve. (What school is in session on Christmas Eve? Did they used to do it that way?) It works out for Karen, of course, because otherwise Santa Claus wouldn’t be around to save her and…

Wait a minute, this all happened on Christmas Eve? What did they even need the train ticket for? Why didn’t Frosty just wait around for Santa in town in the first place? They could have saved themselves all kinds of trouble! And don’t tell me it’s because Santa wouldn’t show up while the kids were awake, because this is a Rankin and Bass special and he breaks that rule all the time. He even breaks this rule in this very cartoon, because if he was waiting for all of the animals to be asleep before he shows up Hocus couldn’t even have flagged him down in the first place! Good grief, Romeo Muller, were you even trying?

Yet, this is a classic.

You see, out of all the great characters in the Rankin and Bass catalogue, there may be none as ridiculously endearing as Frosty. His sweetness, his heart that remains warm despite being encased in snow, the fact that he even apologizes to Hocus for some truly ridiculous suggestions for getting help… well, he’s a better snowman than I. This cartoon is the reason I can’t put on a top hat without getting the urge to wish everyone a happy birthday. It’s ludicrous! It’s incomprehensible!

And it’s a valued part of our collective childhood, and I wouldn’t change a minute of it.

Frosty returned twice more in the annals of Rankin and Bass – in 1976’s Frosty’s Winter Wonderland he’s given a snowwife, Crystal. In 1979, the Frosty family teamed up with Rudolph for the stop-motion feature length film Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July. Both of these are worthy sequels. Less so is 1992’s Frosty Returns, a terrible, painfully preachy cartoon produced by CBS and unforgivably directed by Bill Melendez (of A Charlie Brown Christmas), and in 2005 there was the CGI Legend of Frosty the Snowman, which is more faithful to the original, but still merely okay. As usual with these characters, Rankin and Bass did it best. All others need not apply.

Don’t forget, The Christmas Special is the third Reel to Reel movie study. The first, Mutants, Monsters and Madmen, is now available as a $2.99 eBook in the Amazon Kindle store and Smashwords.com bookstore. And you can find links to all of my novels, collections, and short stories, in their assorted print, eBook and audio forms, at the Now Available page!

19
Dec
10

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 201: Mike Vs. Rankin and Bass

A few months ago, Mike “Technodunce” Bellamy made a horrifying confession: he’d never seen any of the classic Rankin & Bass Christmas specials in their entirety. This week, the Showcase boys set out to rectify that error, making Mike watch the classic TV specials Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town, The Year Without a Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, complete with our commentary on each one! In the picks, Kenny digs the Blu-Ray of The A-Team, while Blake goes with a double dose of Christmas Comics, Supergirl #59 and the graphic novel Amelia Rules!: A Very Ninja Christmas. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by the Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 201: Mike Vs. Rankin and Bass

13
Dec
09

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 149: The Christmas Special Special

With the clock ticking up to the big day, Blake sits down with his sister Heather for a conversation about their favorite Christmas specials, TV shows, and movies. Fueled by your comments, the sibs talk about the classics of their youth, the new specials that have hit in recent years, and cross their fingers for future specials. Rankin and Bass, Disney classics, Hanna Barbera, Bob Clark, Charles Dickens and of course, Bruce Willis are all right here. In the picks, Heather simply questions the wisdom of people who have never seen A Christmas Story, while Blake recommends the indie comic Jill Chill and the Christmas Star from Cool Yule Comics. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@comixtreme.com!

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 149: The Christmas Special Special
Inside This Episode:

09
Dec
09

Everything But Imaginary #332: Meet the Kringle Korps

These days, no superheroes seem to be willing to do the whole “lone avenger” bit anymore. There have been thousands of Green Lanterns for years, but more of them are in the spotlight than ever before. We’ve got enough Flashes now to run the super-speed relay of all time, the X-Men and Avenger families continue growing and absorbing other superheroes like the Thing That Ate Nebraska, and the Superman and Batman families have both expanded to near-epic proportions, with the potential of further expansion recently hinted at for Supes. And so, even though he is in fact the most effective superhero of all time (as determined in a previous, classic Everything But Imaginary column), Santa Claus himself has decided to step up the operation and promote several of his more well-known associates to a full-blown Yuletide superhero team. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you… THE KRINGLE KORPS.

Everything But Imaginary #332: Meet the Kringle Korps




Blake’s Twitter Feed

April 2014
S M T W T F S
« Feb    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  

Blog Stats

  • 271,031 hits

Blake's Flickr Photos

IMG_2219

IMG_2218

IMG_2217

More Photos

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 654 other followers