Christmas Review – “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without Rankin and Bass.

Cast and Crew

Mickey Rooney as Santa Claus

Fred Astaire as the narrator/mailman.

Keenan Wynn as the Winter Warlock

Paul Frees as the Burgermeister Meisterburger and others.

Written by Romeo Muller

Directed by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass

Complete information is available from this IMDB page.

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or Note that the US release includes The Little Drummer Boy, while that title is available seperately.

Original Airdate

Santa Claus is Coming To Town originally aired in 1970.


In what may be the greatest retcon in human history, a single broadcast hour (ie. about 44 minutes, including credits) is used to tell the story of Santa Claus, explaining the red suit, the toys, the elves, the chimney access to homes, the stockings, why he only delivers at Christmas, how he knows if you’ve been bad or good, why he is known as Santa Claus and Chris Kringle, how his reindeer can fly, how he met the reindeer, how he learned such a jolly laugh, how he and Mrs. Claus met and fell in love, and probably more that I don’t remember at the moment.

High Point

Burgermeister Meisterburger with his cast and pillow is the best single moment of the show. The fact that they actually tied all of that legend together into a coherent package so well is probably the best part of it.

Low Point

“If you sit on my lap today, a kiss a toy is the price you’ll pay.” Man, that song just sounds creepy.

The Review

The originality is pretty good. Yes, there was a lot of established lore to work with, but I’ll be damned if they didn’t come up with an original plot to tie it all together. I give it 5 out of 6.

The animation wasn’t bad. It’s a bit jerky, and in the DVD quality releases I can see wires I never saw in the broadcast. The cartoon snow stood out against the reality of the rest, too. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story is an amazing acheivement. I give it 6 out of 6.

The voice acting actually has some good emotion from Rooney and Wynn. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response produced is great. It’s very uplifting, with numerous amusing moments, and rewards for the viewers who watch for elements of the legend (as I’ve been doing the past few years.) It’s not as sappy as many specials, and it’s got the nostalgia bonus. I give it 6 out of 6.

The production has a great look and style, with a relatively mobile camera for this type of animation. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this is great fun, delivering classic Rankin/Bass holiday fun. I give it 6 out of 6.

In total, Santa Claus is Coming to Town receives 37 out of 42.

2 replies on “Christmas Review – “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town””

  1. One of my Favorites
    This is one of my all time favorites of this genre of Christmas specials. I’m always disappointed that the broadcast networks don’t run them anymore. Though I get my fill of them on the Family channel every year.

    The only one of this style I don’t get is the one with the forest gods or whatever they were. That one is a bit odd.

    • shameless link

      This short film is definitely a good take on the comtemporary Claus-lore. If you want a more historical one, I have an illustrated article here.

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