Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July [1979]

Genre: Animation, Family, Fantasy
It may not be what you think at first glance, but Classic Christmas Favorites is indeed a set of vintage holiday specials, mostly from the team of Rankin/Bass. Start with the one that's not Rankin/Bass, but is a flat-out classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966), the Dr. Seuss tale about a curmudgeon who tries to stop Christmas from coming. From its Seussian zaniness to its humor to its music, Grinch is just about perfect in every way. The version included is the 2006 remastered version with Horton Hears a Who! (1970) and other material, and new for 2008 are three specials previously unavailable on DVD: The Leprechauns' Christmas Gold (1981), Pinocchio's Christmas (1980), and The Stingiest Man in Town (1978). The next most famous special is The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974), a stop-motion story in which Santa (voiced by Mickey Rooney) decides to take the holiday off, only to have the movie stolen by Heat Miser and Snow Miser. The 2007 deluxe edition has some documentary material and the two specials that were on the previous DVD, Rudolph's Shiny New Year (1976) and Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977). On the third disc are the cel-animated Frosty's Winter Wonderland (1976, narrated by Andy Griffith), in which Frosty gets a snow wife, and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974), which uses the Clement Moore poem as an excuse to tell a story about a human and a mouse who have to make amends when an offended Santa decides not to visit their town. Finally, the stop-motion Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July (1979) is a feature-length (105 minutes!) special that follows the reindeer and the snowman as they get jobs at a Fourth of July circus! One of the fun things about this special is how a number of the original voices return to give the programs a similar look and feel: Jackie Vernon puts in his third stint as the voice of Frosty, Billie Richards again voices Rudolph, Shelley Winters three-peats her role as Crystal (Frosty's wife), and Mickey Rooney returns as Santa. The 2008 set Classic Christmas Favorites is an updated version of 2007's Christmas Television Favorites, adding the three new specials on disc 1. A quick look at the cover may lead one to think that this is all the original Rankin/Bass specials--Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, Frosty the Snowman, etc. These aren't those, but they're still vintage Rankin-Bass and many people think of them just as fondly. --David Horiuchi

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