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Showing posts with the label 70's

An Adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol (1974)

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This is a bit unusual for us, in that the media in question is a record, rather than a special. There are, of course, countless audio recordings of A Christmas Carol - as a rule of thumb, we don't bother tracking those down, as they're rarely well-known or influential enough to justify a review. This one is a little more interesting. Despite its unassuming title, this adaptation, courtesy of Disney Records, was the source material later adapted into the 1983 animated film, Mickey's Christmas Carol , which in turn led to the creation of DuckTales. Like the movie, the album features Disney characters playing the cast of Dickens's story. The lead role, of course, is Scrooge, featuring Alan Young as Scrooge for the first time. Young co-wrote the album and would of course reprise that role in the '83 film, as well as Scrooge McDuck on DuckTales (the McDuck surname gets a brief callout on the album when Ebenezer Scrooge lists a couple debtors). Quite a bit of the story an

A Christmas Story (1972)

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Not to be confused with the overrated 1983 movie of the same name , this 30-minute Hanna-Barbera special from 1972 tells the story of a dog and mouse attempting to deliver a boy's letter to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Like most Hanna-Barbera specials from this era, this has been mostly forgotten, which feels right to me. That's not to say it's particularly bad; it's just not particularly anything . It's relatively early, as far as Christmas specials go, so I assume it was a welcome deviation from the ones already in rotation. But fifty years later, it's not quite old enough to be "one of the first," so it's hard to overlook its shortcomings and aspects that aged poorly. The one aspect I did find interesting was the voice cast. This features two voice actors from Disney's Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Paul Winchell and Hal Smith), and the father's voice is instantly recognizable as Dr. Benton Quest (Don Messick). The whole cast is co

The Stingiest Man in Town (1978) [Revisited]

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We watched and reviewed this eleven years ago , but I'm revisiting it as part of my ongoing attempt to watch as many versions of A Christmas Carol as humanly possible. It'd be worth reevaluating this, anyway, since the context surrounding it has changed dramatically. This is a remake of a 1956 version starring Basil Rathbone broadcast live that was believed lost for decades before showing up in 2011. Technically, it was available when we ran our original review, but it wouldn't have been easy to find, nor were we anywhere near as thorough back then. Obviously things have changed. I actually just finished watching the 1956 version a few days before putting this on (in case it wasn't clear, these reviews aren't entirely being posted in the order I watched them in). Let's dig into how this special relates to its predecessor, adaptations of A Christmas Carol, and Christmas specials in general. First, I want to acknowledge Lindsay and I have very different background

A Christmas Carol (1971)

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This 1971 British TV special was subsequently given a brief theatrical showing, making it eligible for the Academy Award for an Animated Short, which it rightly won. It's easy to see why - with all due respect to Mickey's Christmas Carol, I've got a new favorite animated adaptation. It's directed by Richard Williams, the genius who handled the animation side of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and spent decades working on The Thief and the Cobbler, a legendary animated production that was never properly finished. Ken Harris and Chuck Jones worked on this as well, in case being directed by one of the greatest animators in history wasn't enough. Stylistically, this is based on illustrations accompanying classic versions of Dickens's book. To put it another way, you will recognize these characters. In a similar vein, they got Alistair Sim to reprise his role as Scrooge from the 1951 production. This is, without a doubt, the most impressive half-hour version of A Christmas C

Casper's First Christmas (1979)

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Casper is the title character, but this half-hour special features Yogi, Boo Boo, Quick Draw McGraw, Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, Augie Doggie, and Doggie Daddy, in addition to Hairy Scary. For those of you lucky enough to not know what any of that means, Hairy is a ghost who's friends with Casper (sort of), and the others are anthropomorphic Hanna-Barbera characters. The special opens with Casper and Hairy's house scheduled for demolition. It's Christmas Eve, so Casper wants to decorate. Hairy, not sharing his friend's interest in the holidays, wants to go looking for a new house to haunt. Casper isn't sure whether Santa Claus will come to a house as worn down as theirs, but he writes a letter and leaves it in a stocking, just in case. As this is going on, the Hanna-Barbera gang are lost on the way to a lodge where they're planning to spend the holidays. If you want to impose continuity on this mess, you could interpret that as the Jellystone Lodge from the

Scrooge (1970)

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We did a few adaptations of A Christmas Carol back when we started this blog, but we lost interest pretty fast. It wasn't so much that we were bored watching them (if that were enough, there's a host of genres we'd have dropped a decade ago), it's that we felt like we'd said everything we could possibly say on the subject. To put it another way, I figured if I'd seen one of these, I'd pretty much seen them all. I now realize I was wrong. Hilariously wrong. In more ways than I can count. Granted, if I'd tried watching through one after another back then, I'd have basically been wasting my time. The variations wouldn't have interested me back then, and I was too new to all this to perceive how different versions reflect their times or what they meant to holiday media in general. Even so, I should have watched this one ages ago. I have no excuse save ignorance for waiting this long. It's not so much that this is good or bad; it's that it'

'Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974)

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Yes, we're embarrassed about this one. What about it? After being sure we'd done every Rankin/Bass Christmas special, we're still discovering that some slipped through the cracks. It only added to the surreality that while watching this, both Erin and I became convinced that we'd seen this at some point in our lives. I guess it just wasn't in the last 13 years. This isn't a stop-motion special, rather it's traditional animation in the Rankin/Bass style. The voice cast does good work, the dialogue isn't bad, the songs are pretty catchy. So why is this holiday special on the more obscure end? Maybe because the story is just a bit... odd. It starts out late on Christmas Eve with the first eight lines of Clement Clarke Moore's "A Visit from Saint Nicholas," of course, as recited/experienced by Joshua Trundle, a clockmaker. Then the story is taken up by a father mouse living in the wall of that house who is decidedly stirring. He tells us that e

1941 (1979)

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The first thing you need to understand about 1941 is the level of talent - both in front of and behind the camera - is unmatched in its genre. The cast includes Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, John Candy, Slim Pickens, Christopher Lee, Ned Beatty, Patti LuPone, and Toshiro Mifune, just to name a few. It was written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, who served as producers alongside John Milius. The movie was scored by John Williams, who belongs on the shortlist of greatest film composers of all time. And speaking of "greatest of all time," it's directed by Steven Spielberg. The second thing you need to understand is the movie is absolutely godawful. Just horrible. An utter mess of a film. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe you should flip those two bullet points, so "it sucks" is the first thing, and "it's made by unbelievably talented people" is #2. Before I go on, I need to specify there are two cuts of this movie. Right now, I'm reviewing

Gawain and the Green Knight (1973)

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Seeing The Green Knight (2021) was a good reminder that the root story is set during and thematically linked to the holidays. Obviously, that makes the new movie a Christmas movie, which is why we just posted a pretty extensive review. The thing is, David Lowery isn't the first director to adapt Sir Gawain and the Green Knight into a feature film. In 1973, Stephen Weeks took a swing at the myth. The movie seems to be mostly forgotten - it's most notable as being Nigel Green's final role, as he passed away prior to the movie's release. The other thing about this that makes it somewhat notable is its proximity to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I can't seem to find concrete information about which Arthurian films Holy Grail was directly parodying, but both the timing and content make me suspect this was high on the list. Sir Gawain came out just two years ahead of Holy Grail, so it's likely Python's members saw it while planning their movie. This has title ca

M*A*S*H Holiday Episodes (1972 - 1981)

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M*A*S*H is a little before my time. I have memories of it existing, but I don't recall actually watching it. That said, I'm familiar enough with some of the characters, so I must have caught a handful of episodes from repeats through the 80s. And of course I've seen it referenced damn near everywhere - this was an influential series. If you're somehow not familiar with it, M*A*S*H is a series about an army medical base stationed in Korea during the Korean War. It's based on a movie I've never seen, which was in turn based on a book I've never read, so don't expect a lot of context on that end. Actually sitting down and watching through the Christmas episodes (along with a few tangential episodes we'll discuss in a minute) was a fascinating experience. First, it's not hard to see why it left a footprint: this show has a fascinating tone, striking a careful balance between the hardships of war with the comedic absurdity of the characters. The

A Cosmic Christmas (1977)

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I stumbled upon this early Nelvana production and immediately knew we had to watch it. (I’m mostly familiar with Nelvana because they produced all the Care Bears material in the 80s, but they’re a prolific children’s media production company based in Canada.) Apparently, when the young studio was trying to break into commercial animation, market research indicated a need for new Christmas television specials . Given a UFO sighting in Toronto and excitement for a then-upcoming movie about some wars in the stars, a sci-fi tinted holiday story must have seemed like just the ticket. And it worked! According to Wikipedia, the popularity and sale of this special put Nelvana on the map. It's hard to imagine, now in the era of Peak TV, that long-ago time when networks were so starved for content that this quirky, hit-and-miss piece would cause a stir. Our main character is Peter, a totally generic kid except for the fact that he has a pet goose. Why? We’ll get there. Peter and Lu

Book Review: Nothing Lasts Forever, by Roderick Thorp (1979)

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Nothing Lasts Forever is, arguably, the most influential Christmas novel written since A Christmas Carol, and if it's title hadn't been changed when it was adapted into a movie nine years later, I wouldn't have to explain why. That movie, incidentally, was Die Hard. I'm not sure what I expected from the book, but it wasn't this. I knew going in it was a sequel to a novel Thorp wrote in 1966 called The Detective. I've never read that, but I have seen the film adaptation, which starred Frank Sinatra in the lead role. It's pretty obvious from reading Nothing Lasts Forever that Thorp wrote this with Sinatra in mind. The plot. It's exactly the same as the movie's. Also, it's completely different. The book starts with Joe Leland (they changed his name along with the title for the film) being driven to the airport on Christmas Eve. Leland isn't actually a detective anymore: he left that profession at the end of the first book and became a