Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (TV Movie 1970) Poster

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10/10
Warm, cozy & groovy...like a hot cocoa with a shot of peppermint schnapps!
josephbrando12 December 2001
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, red-haired hip young adult who is 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. A wonderful Christmas special that no holiday season is complete without.
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Timeless!!
AbeStreet12 October 2001
I will be 33 in January 2002. I only mention this so that readers will be able to gauge my review of this classic based on my age. While I was growing up, prior vcr tapes and dvd players, I and my friends would wait all year to view the various Christmas specials that aired each year. I remember sitting glued to the tv taking in every second of the shows. Back then if you missed part of the show or even the whole show you were border line depressed because you knew you couldn't see it again for a whole year. In some ways anticipation made the viewing of Christmas specials that much better.

SANTA CLAUS IS COMIN' TO TOWN(SCICTT) is in my top five Rankin/Bass specials. Right along with RUDOLPH, FROSTY and The Year WITHOUT SANTA CLAUS. I enjoy the 1970's feel this classic has. The flowers that appear when Jessica sings, the simple toys the kids play with and the songs that are sung throughout this show. I can only imagine what a modern version of this show would sound like with its boy band sounding songs and electric toys and video games. Instead of watching Kris and Jessica court each other and wed we would probably see them live together while they consider marriage. This was a scary classic. The Winter Warlock was very scary when I viewed this as a kid. No matter how many times I saw this as a kid I would always wonder if Kris would make it past the warlock.

I suppose the best thing about this type of Christmas classic is that when people my age view it they can escape back to their innocent youth for a short while. Even though I now own the vhs of SCICTT and soon hope to purchase the DVD I make myself and my kids wait until Christmas season to watch it. It's not quite the same as when I was a kid but anticipation still increases the viewing pleasure once we do watch it.
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10/10
My favorite of all Christmas cartoons!
pattyjef6 November 1999
I am an adult, and probably shouldn't watch Christmas cartoons, but I love them anyway! "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" is my favorite of all Christmas cartoons. Anyone who knows me knows that I love this cartoon! (I was a kid in the 70's when all the Rankin/Bass cartoons were on during Christmas, so I remember and have most of them!) The mailman (Fred Astaire) is just adorable! Mickey Rooney as Santa was such a perfect choice! I love to settle in a comfy chair, knowing I won't be interrupted, and put this tape in my vcr.

I agree (a little bit) about the cartoon being dated. Yes, it has those tones mainly in the middle of the cartoon, but it can easily be dismissed. I would like to explain about the wedding celebration between Santa and Jessica in the forest. They got married in the forest because "no church would have them". This a wonderful, innocent Christmas cartoon - a joy for anyone to watch.
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The best writing from the Rankin and Bass.
lowerexpo23 November 2003
Out of all of the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials, this one has the

best writing of the bunch. Why? Because the songs are at there

best (who can forget the one foot in front the other song), and even

though it is ficticious, the storyline is actually pretty convincing.

And the Burglar Meister is easily the best of the antangonist of the

special with his sinister plan. The only downfall to this special is

the animation, which in this one, it's unbelivably bad (compared to

their other specials). But still, with the great character

development, a memberable storyline and songs, and the great

voice overs (Frees, Wynn, Rooney, Astaire etc.) , this emerges as

the one the lives up to it's popular song.
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Santa in a Bobby Sherman Haircut
chconnol11 December 2003
Great show. I loved it as a kid and my kids love it too. It's VERY early 70's from Santa's (or Kris Kringle's)Bobby Sherman-like haircut to the psychedelic song sung by Jessica (aka the future Mrs. Claus). I just saw it again last night and it was a trip. It's very cute and very innocent and I absolutely agree with the other posters here that this is from another time. I'm cynical also but I appreciate something that is done with the best intentions and with heart. Today's "holiday" fare has to be hip with lots of pop references and such. Nothing like that here. The animation here appears ancient by today's standards but the show believes in itself and it's overall very charming. But that song that Jessica sings. Whoo boy...right back to '70 alright.
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9/10
I so loved this show and so sad It's no longer on at Xmas.
annabellegeorgio3 September 2005
Why have so many of the best and special Xmas cartoons been discarded for Xmas shows that are non existent.We couldn't wait when Xmas came around to watch this show, I feel so sad for kids today, who grow up with no real Xmas shows, like the ones of the 60's and 70's!Why can't our TV stations make a special Xmas night, where all the great Xmas shows are on TV.Xmas Eve is a special night, and so many stupid and meaningless program's are displayed. Santa Claus is coming to town should be brought back. along with the little drummer boy, frosty the snow man, and any other Xmas cartoon of that time.

I really hope someone does read this, and gives me some info on where I could buy all the good old Xmas cartoons.I ALSO hope someone out there feels like I do.How great Fred Astaire was as the postman, and MICKY ROONEY as Santa. You can't beat these or this show. please!!! won't someone bring them back? It's not too much to ask really!

thank you.
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Astaire
gazzo-216 October 1999
This one is good, right in keeping with the others Rankin Bass did at the time. Personally, I have always liked anything with Keenan Wynn, Fred Astaire or Mickey Rooney-and the Burgomeister with Paul Frees doing the honors-is a riot.

Rankin Bass did a fine job retooling the Santa myth here, and I think that this oughta be shown more. Certainly worth your while.
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An Overlooked Classic That Deserves A Better Fate
rosaliez20 December 2001
Warning: Spoilers
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS! Sadly, while "Peanuts" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" are sentimentally celebrated, digitally remastered and shown in their original entirety in network primetime, this classic has been shuttled off to cable hell. Don't get me wrong, I love those specials as much as I love this one, but it deserves a lot more respect than it gets. If you get this one confused with the other Animagic specials, just remember this is the one with "Put one foot in front of the other." Need I say more? Of course you know it. And you are probably doing it now! By all means, if you or your children have never seen this, be sure to rent or buy it. What you see now on cable is a watered-down excuse to run a bunch of Christmas commercials. Watch it and you will swear you have developed Attention Deficit Disorder. Oops, here's a clip of the show! Hey, quick, three commercials! Now, another clip of the show! OOh, two commercials... The show itself seems to have been thrown in as an afterthought. If you read the other reviews and have only seen this version, you may ask yourself, when did Jessica break into song, surrounded by the psychedelic swirling colors? When did the Burgemeister burn all the toys? Not happening in this cut-and-paste version; trust me. I personally took offense to the deletion of the song that starts "If you sit on my lap today, a kiss a toy is the price you pay..." Someone with half a merchandising brain would release a holiday CD of these songs (I've looked; it doesn't exist) and a line of Christmas ornaments (Fred Astaire's mailman in that adorable mail truck come to mind)and plush toys (picture The Winter Warlock and the penguin Topper). Three boos and coal in the stocking for the cable Scrooges that have deemed this a holiday afterthought. Ignore them and go enjoy yourself.
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10/10
Charming tale conceals politics
mirok17 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Santa Claus is Comin' to Town is one of my all-time holiday favorites and it's hard for me to believe it was made in 1970 because I was fully 12 at the time and I used to think I'd grown up seeing it as a kid. Oh well, memory plays tricks on us from time to time. But it's a timeless classic and is suited for family members of all ages.

How can a children's story hold the interest of adults? Well, aside from the wonderful animation, singing and the extraordinary talents of the various artists -- Fred Astaire as the postman, Mickey Rooney as Santa, Keenan Wynne as Winter Warlock and Paul Frees as the Burgermeister (did you know his most famous vocal role was Boris Badenov in the Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle? If the voice sounds familiar that's why!) -- there's more than meets the eye to this simple tale.

Just look at it and you eventually discover that Sombertown is a metaphor for Germany. I mean, the scenery, the sounds of people's accents, especially the Burgermeister's (Burgermeister, after all, means mayor in German), and the like, make it quite plausible. But that pesky Burgermeister ... bullying, isn't he? And he's so hung up on making kids miserable and he bans toys and every time Kris Kringle comes by with a load and foils his plans he gets madder and madder and at one point he sets fire to a whole load of toys in the town square while the kids cry.

This particular segment of the plot -- I'm not saying, of course, that the WHOLE story is about this -- is a thinly disguised observation on how Hitler banned books and other materials from Jewish artists and everyone dubbed "degenerate" in Germany. The children of Sombertown are metaphors for the Jews in pre-Holocaust Germany during the Nazi years.

Now don't get me wrong; the story is mainly an answer to many children's questions about why Santa comes down chimneys, why he lives at the North Pole and so on. But when you look at the story and read between the lines you discover that the writers, in dealing with that one particular aspect of the script, were carefully concealing a very powerful political statement.

And as Santa is the spirit of giving and love, of course he triumphs over the Burgermeister!
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9/10
Better than "Rudolph"
budikavlan6 December 2004
This is the best of the Rankin-Bass animated holiday specials, much more entertaining than Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which is much better known. The songs are catchier, the invented story elements less silly and more pertinent, and the vocal performances more accomplished.

That's not to say it's perfect. The story is less silly than Rudolph, but it's still pretty silly in spots. Some of the appeal of this is a campy quality that applies to all of these shows. But the songs in this are catchy and memorable, much more so than the other shows. I think it's a shame that this has been relegated to minor cable showings while Rudolph still gets a network showcase every year.
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9/10
They just don't make them like they used to
Phlox15 December 2004
The 1977 TV movie "Santa Clause is Coming to Town" is by far the best Rankin/Bass movie and one of the best Christmas movies altogether. This family classic is about the early life of "Kris Kringle" and his road to becoming the man everyone knows as Santa Clause. Its humorous comprehensible plot and excellent character building make this movie a keeper. The catchy songs easily get stuck in your head and the brilliant animation style is fun to watch. All of the new Christmas movies so far have failed to impress me. The (Jim Carrey) Grinch was in my opinion a cheesy shallow take on what Christmas is all about and the Polar Express was too caught up in the special effects. However, Santa Clause is coming to Town takes you back to the true meaning of Christmas. So next time you're wondering how reindeer fly or why Santa goes down chimneys, watch Santa Clause is Coming to Town.\ Christmas Movie Score (8.5/10) Overall Movie Score (8/10) Recommended
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10/10
Now that was some mighty fine writing!
TheLittleSongbird21 December 2009
I love the Rankin'/Bass Christmas specials. They are so timeless and relaxing to watch, and make you feel so cosy and warm, which is lacking in most Christmas movies of today. As of now, Santa Claus is Comin' To Town is one of my favourites, along with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. There are so many things to like about this special, whether it is the animation, the music or the writing.

The animation is really lovely, perhaps a tad dated, but it does have this sophisticated look that adds to the special's innocence. The music is just gorgeous, the song that Jessica sings is just beautiful beyond words. As for the writing, I agree with anyone who says this one has the best writing out of the specials to come from Rankin'/Bass, a bit like I consider The Little Drummer Boy to be the most poignant. There are some sweet moments, but other parts are very funny, whether it is the interaction between the narrator and the children which was very entertaining, or the dialogue of the toy-hating Burgermeister Meisterburger such as "Ooooooouuu, I've been bamboozled". And anything Winter says borders on hysterical, like "you mustn't mind the tree monsters. Their bark is worse than their bite".

The characters are wonderful, with Santa really charming here, and Burgermeister Meisterburger a sophisticated enough villain and a funny one too. And then we have the narrator, a wonderful one with some truly entertaining lines. And the voice work is outstanding, particularly strong work from Paul Frees in multiple roles including the villain of the piece Burgermeister Meisterburger. Mickey Rooney is his charming self as Santa/Kris Kringle, so he was an ideal casting choice, and Keenan Wynn was superb as Winter. And Fred Astaire, all I can say is like Rooney an inspired choice, and he was note-perfect. All in all, I am running out of things to say to praise Santa Claus is Comin' To Town, so little more to add than a 10/10. Bethany Cox
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excellent but a sad reminder of a far more innocent age
CineMage5 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers
**DEFINITE SPOILERS AHEAD**

As children, my sister and I had loved this Christmas special. I recall that we used to boo Grimsby every year when he corrected the Burgermeister Meisterburger just as the sour tyrant was about to be redeemed by a toy. Mickey Rooney always does an excellent job as the voice of Kris a.k.a. Santa, and Fred Astaire seems to have had fun as the narrator. Keenan Wynn as the Winter Warlock is both menacing and manages to sidestep most of the potential triteness of the sequence in which the Winter Warlock loses his bitterness the moment he is given a choo choo train.

A lot of the story's strengths have been lost in the translation from the 1970s to the 2000s, however.

In the 1970s, the "redemption" sequences suggested that the combination of a generous heart and a discerning eye (Kris always knew precisely WHAT toy was needed!) could work wonders in turning enemies into friends and curing an embittered heart. In the 2000s, with several decades over which seemingly everything has become commodified, however, the "redemption" sequences now appear to suggest that all it takes to purchase friends out of enemies is enough money to buy them the correct merchandise.

What frightens me today, however, is how we've lost the initial innocence of Kris's sweet song about toy-giving. Today, what parent would feel comfortable if a stranger in town told his or her child that "a kiss a toy is the price you pay"?

This children's special remains wondrous; it's the culture which has changed for the worse.
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8/10
It holds up
Christmas-Reviewer20 October 2016
"Santa Claus is Coming to Town" is a 1970 Christmas stop motion animated television special produced by Rankin/Bass Productions. The film stars Fred Astaire as the narrator S.D. Kluger, Mickey Rooney as Kris Kringle/Santa Claus, Keenan Wynn as the Winter Warlock, and Paul Frees in various roles. The film tells the story of how Santa Claus and several Claus-related Christmas traditions came to be. It is based on the hit Christmas song of the same name, which was introduced on radio by Eddie Cantor in 1934, and the story of Saint Nicholas.

This special is a classic. Some images have now been cut because of various stupid reasons.

This is still a cartoon that everyone will enjoy. If you have not seen it in years you should.

This film is solid storytelling. There is never a dull moment. BUY the DVD. Its worth seeing the original unedited version.
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7/10
has a childlike charm
SnoopyStyle9 December 2014
Mailman Special Delivery Kluger (Fred Astaire) introduces the tale of Santa Claus. In the sad city of Sombertown ruled by the grumpy Burgermeister Meisterburger (Paul Frees), a baby named "Claus" is left to him to raise but he sends him to the Orphan Asylum. While transporting there, a wind blows the sled with the baby to the mountain of Whispering Winds. The forest creatures hide him from the Winter Warlock (Keenan Wynn) and bring him to the Kringle elf family. They name him Kris. He wants the Kringles to be the royal toy makers again but they can't get pass the Winter Warlock to bring the toys to Sombertown.

The stop-motion animation is elementary which gives it a childish charm. They're almost like little toy figurines. Even the age adds to its charm. The story is a little weird but it's a good Santa Claus origin story. I'm not that impressed with most of the songs with the exception of the title song "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town". It is one of the classic Christmas TV specials and it still holds up.
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7/10
The Vidiot Reviews...
capone66630 November 2014
Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town

Jesus would get more recognition at Christmas if he'd only allow children to sit on his lap at the local shopping mall.

Until then the holiday belongs to the urchin in this animated movie.

An orphan named Claus fortuitously finds his way into the home of a family of toy-making elves named Kringle.

Raised as one of their own, Kris (Mickey Rooney) vows to deliver elf-made toys to the kids of Sombertown - despite the Burgermeister's (Paul Frees) stringent laws against it.

For years, Kris, his wife (Robie Lester) and their woodland friends outwit the Burgermeister's men with what are now Clausian traits, i.e. sneaking down chimneys.

Narrated by Fred Astaire, this Rankin-Bass stop-motion origin tale maintains the company's reputation for quality holiday fair.

With memorable songs and oddball supporting characters, this is a believable beginning to an unbelievable legend.

Furthermore, it's more inspiring than Santa's real origins as a Coca-Cola mascot.

Green Light

vidiotreviews.blogspot.ca
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Santa the Rebel
Ddey655 January 2007
I consider myself fortunate, to some extent. I was born during a period when the Big 3 television networks were airing some of the greatest Christmas specials. It was an era that began at the close of the Baby Boom with "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and fizzled out sometime after "The Year Without a Santa Claus." And although this era is dominated by Rankin-Bass Productions, the ones written by Charles Monroe Schulz and Theodore Seuss Geisel can not be excluded from this field either.

Among the specials of this era is "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," which gave what at the time was a daring perspective on yuletide folklore -- The image of jolly ol' St. Nick as somebody willing to stick it to "the man!" Here, all the routines we were taught about as children seem to make a little more sense. Arthur Rankin Jr. & Jules Bass do for Fred Astaire what they did for Jimmy Durante and Burl Ives in the past; create fictional characters based on them as Emcee's for their stories. After reading some of the comments here, it's easy to understand why other users find anti-communist messages in this special, but with Sombertown's Teutonic symbolism like Meisterburger's clothes, and his army's helmet, I'd have to lead it towards attacking fascism. Besides that, attacking communism wasn't considered socially acceptable anymore.

Like "Olive, the Other Reindeer" a generation later, the special is clearly an effort to make Christmas hip, and yet besides Fred Astaire also has Mickey Rooney voicing Kris Kringle. Ironically, both of these actors represent everything society was trying to get away from at the time. And who could've known that Mrs. Claus was once a babe?
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Fred Astaire makes this for me
dtucker8629 November 2003
We are sort of a funny society, we put our movie giants on pedastals so to speak. Our movie icons symbolize certain things. James Dean epitomized the rebel youth, John Wayne epitomized the super patriot, Clint Eastwood was the ultimate tough guy and Fred Astaire symbolized grace and elegance. Bob Fosse once said that other dancers hate Fred Astaire because he gives us all complexes. He is so good he makes the rest of us look so bad. All right folks, I admit I still love to watch the classic Christmas specials they show every year. I loved them as a child and still love them as I am very uncomfortably approaching middle age! I am 35 as I write this. I am talking about the Charlie Brown specials and Frosty and the Grinch and the Santa Claus cartoon where there was Mickey Rooney and Shirley Booth's voice. However, this cartoon is special because it takes us back and shows us the origin of old Saint Nick and who better to be the storyteller then Fred Astaire. His narration makes this special for me, like Leonard Nimoy made In Search Of... or Robert Stack made Unsolved Mysteries or Peter Thomas makes Forensic Files. Astaire was such a gentleman that just listening to his voice hooks you. I laugh when I think of how he described himself on his initial screen test. "I am slightly bald, I can't act or sing but can dance a little!". Astaire had a wonderful singing voice and I think he did a great job singing "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town". I don't mean to sound racist, but a lot of rap singers have cannibalized that famous song and ruined it when they sing it so loud! "You better watch out...you better not cry...you better not pout I'm telling you why...SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN (This is delivered in a screeching voice!!!). I think in terms of singing this song Fred is the only one who ever did it right. He was a true gentleman and a man of class. By the way, if you want to see a good acting job, check out On The Beach. It was a 1959 movie that was Fred Astaire's first dramatic role. He did an amazing job as the cynical alcoholic scientist.
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8/10
Best of the Christmas Specials
GrigoriArkadin2 August 2006
Speaking as someone who has watched it every year since it's premier, this one has really held up well in the past 35 years. As many have said, it's a good story with good songs (except Jessica's) and good performances, and those qualities are certainly enough to recommend it. However, I've always appreciated it for two other reasons.

The first is that it sidesteps the entire Santa vs. Jesus issue by simply saying that once Kris started delivering toys worldwide, he had to limit his trip to one night a year and decided Christmas was the most appropriate day of the year as it is "..the Holiest night of year. A night of profound love." Quite beautiful I think, for an animated Christmas special, and brilliantly associates Santa with Christmas without suggesting Christmas is about Santa. It gives deference to the holiday's true origin while not being overly preachy. It always bugged me in Rudolph where Santa states that due to the storm they'll "have to cancel Christmas". Of course, Christmas isn't canceled just because Santa can't make it. Other specials make no mention of the religious connotations of the Holiday, which is disingenuous I think.

The other unique characteristic of this special is how Santa is portrayed as the embodiment of generosity, a positive outlook, a cheery disposition and absolute love for and faith in humanity. Of course Santa is those things in our imagination, but mostly is portrayed as a prickly curmudgeon in movies and Christmas specials. As if he's been beaten down by trying to bring merriment to this miserable world. In Year Without a Santa Claus, Santa is easily convinced that nobody has any Christmas spirit left and therefore he's not going to bother to go out this year. To Hell with those little kids who look forward to Christmas all year. He's going to take a vacation. The Santa of Rudolph is annoyed by the elves singing, endorses the little reindeer's ostracism and seems sullen and stressed by the Christmas Eve preparations. The more recent "Elf" with Will Ferrel cast Ed Asner as Santa precisely for his gruff persona.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town is certainly not flawless, but truly stands out among its peers.
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8/10
My favorite of the old Christmas Specials
magellan33324 December 2004
In 2004 I started watching all the old specials from the 60s and 70s for the first time. So far I have seen, Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer, The Year Without a Santa Clause and Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town. Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town has been my favorite thus far. The origins of Santa Clause are cleverly explained as methods Kris Kringle used to undermine the mean dictator, Burgermeister Meisterburger. Not only are the origins of Santa Clause explained, but also Old Man Winter. The piece is somewhat dated. The animation definitely has some 1970s flavor along with Kris Kringles hair do. This is a fun and feel good special that can be enjoyed by the entire family.
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8/10
Santa Claus - The Real Story
bkoganbing25 December 2015
It's something when you charm an old codger like me with a cartoon. But I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the 'real' story of the history of Santa Claus as told in animation. By a lantern jawed mailman telling the kids on his route how things came to be hundreds of years ago. Funny thing was that the mailman looked a whole lot like the man who supplied the voice, Fred Astaire.

The only other people you'll know as suppliers of voice are Mickey Rooney as the young foundling taken in by the Kringle family after he's abandoned and given the name of Kris. He does however as a baby had a medallion attached to him with the single name of Claus. But I really enjoyed how Keenan Wynn voiced the evil mountain king who was changed with a random act of kindness by young Kris Kringle.

All the traditions are explained and I won't mention how a lot of things came to be in the Santa Claus legend. But it all starts because an evil burgomeister voiced by that master of 10,000 voices Paul Frees decided that toys were to be abolished in one of his bad whims. Believe it or not Santa Claus starts out as an outlaw smuggler of toys.

Animation techniques will change and improve, but cartoons never go out of style. Neither will Christmas so you can't do much better than Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. And of course Fred Astaire sings the song.
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8/10
A reminder of what Santa Claus used to be before society destroyed him.
mark.waltz11 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Back when I was a kid, there were T.V. specials and movies our family waited for every year to come on during the holiday season. Like millions of others, we watched this, "Rudolph", "The Grinch" and other holiday specials every year. I was only seven when this was first shown, so I must have seen the original broadcast. For some reason, I thought it was older than that, so its original airdate comes as a total delightful surprise to me.

If somebody could put together a stage version of this, I would definitely go to see it, because this has "musical theater" written all over it. The songs by Maury Laws and Jules Bass are all quite memorable and have Broadway influence written all over it. The character of Jessica (Robie Lester), the small town school teacher, reminds me totally of Marion Paroo, the librarian from "The Music Man", while Mickey Rooney's Kris Kringle is definitely a variation of Harold Hill. The comical villain, Burgermeister Meisterburger, is so delightfully over the top, and I could definitely see the actor in that part stealing every scene they are in. Paul Frees is very funny, especially when he all of a sudden reverts to childhood glee when he is given a yo-yo even though taking a present breaks his own stupid law.

As narrator, Fred Astaire is outstanding, the puppet made up to look exactly like him. He even comes into the story a bit. At over 70, Astaire still had "it", and even six years later, the opportunity to see him dance on film one more time in "That's Entertainent II" was a joy to behold. Joan Gardner provides the voice of wisdom as the portly and lovable Tantee Kringle who adopts Kris, and she is definitely the prototype for what we think Mrs. Klaus should look like. It's no surprise that when Jessica ages, she looks exactly like Tantee.

Character veteran Keenan Wynn also gets to resemble himself here, providing the voice of the Winter Warlock. Just imagine two Broadway hoofers stealing the scene with "Put One Foot in Front of the Other". Audiences would be on their feet even before the number was over! They might consider altering the lyrics of "If You Sit on my Lap Today" which even in context of the cartoon seems a bit perverse. "My World is Beginning Today", Jessica's solo, is just as gorgeous as any of Marion's songs in "The Music Man", and could serve a Broadway leading lady very well if they cast it right. Calling Kelli O'Hara!

However, the most touching moment is Astaire's solo, "What Better Way to Tell You" where he explains the real meaning of Christmas which isn't presents, cookies, trees or even Santa Claus himself. The fact that Santa and the baby Jesus can be utilized in the same story is really the type of Christmas I grew up with, not the hyped-up shopping frenzy that causes injuries on "black Friday" and misrepresents why the holiday was put on the calendar in the first place. So my Christmas wish is that some Broadway producer opens their eyes to what could really express the holiday spirit while making themselves some money at the same time.
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9/10
Of its time and yet timeless
MissSimonetta5 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
For my family, Christmas is never complete without some Rankin-Bass holiday specials. They can be corny and their animation is a little rough, but they possess such heart, innocence, whimsy, and good faith that's all too rare nowadays in a market infested with hip cynicism.

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town is dated in a way that the other R-B specials are not, yet this is not a flaw at all. If anything, the streak of late 1960s sensibilities on love and peace make this cartoon all the more interesting as the years go by. Kris, Jessica, the Winter Wizard, and the Kringles are all colorful non-conformists who rebel against a tyrannical society and must operate outside of it. That Mr. and Mrs. Claus do not get married by a priest or justice and essentially say their vows before God in the midst of nature as they flee society feels mildly hippie-ish. And that's not to mention Jessica's groovy, psychedelic number in the town square.

Even without all of that, this is a great special. Its characters are human and memorable, and the story of the young Santa promotes the best qualities of Christmas: love, compassion, and hope for mankind. It's too lovely to pass up, required Christmas viewing.
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8/10
A True Christmas Classic
gavin694224 December 2013
A mailman (Fred Astaire) reveals the origin of Santa Claus (Mickey Rooney).

I really like this story, especially the idea of an evil Burgermeister (which seems to put this story somewhere in Germany). Rather than just have Santa be this elf who does good things, he has something of a foe that spurs him along to bigger and better things.

I do wonder how much of this has become accepted mythology, and how much has not. It seems like Rankin Bass really wanted to tie up the loose ends of all the Santa Claus traits, and they did a fine job. But does it jibe with other films and stories? And do the kids notice?
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