Christmas Review – “Twas the Night Before Christmas”

Christmas chimes are calling Santa, Santa,

Every heart recalling Santa, Santa,

Come on old Chris Kringle,

Down the Milky Way,

Christmas chimes are calling Santa,

We need you today!

Cast and Crew

George Gobel as Father Mouse

Joel Grey as Joshua Trundle

Tammy Grimes as Albert

John McGiver as the Mayor

Script by Jerome Coopersmith based on the Clement
Moore poem.

Directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr.

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Past TV reviews can be found here.

Original Airdate

This special originally aired in 1974.


‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the
house, just
two creatures were stirring, a clockmaker and mouse.

High Point

The clock chiming sequence.

Low Point

Panning off the Mayor after the vote. It was a
distracting and
pointless camera move.

The Review

This is a very new and original story, using
the poem as
little more than a springboard to get things going.
Very well done.
I give it 5 out of 6.

The animation is that typical Rankin/Bass
style, with a great
look but slightly choppy motion. I give it 4 out of

The story has a more sophisticated flashback
structure than
you usually see in children’s entertainment. There
are also nice
scripted moments, like the note on the hearth at the
start of the
show, that were very well done. The complete package
is a good tale,
too, which would entertain even without the holiday
connection. I
give it 5 out of 6.

The voice acting is a little more expressive
than most of the
Rankin/Bass specials. Joel Grey is considerably
different here than
when he played Doc in the fifth season of Buffy
the Vampire
. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is excellent. This
has always been my
favourite Rankin/Bass special. It’s just a
consistently good piece of
entertainment that doesn’t drill a preachy message
into you. Yes,
there is a message, but it’s not as blatant as others
are. I give it
6 out of 6.

The production is well done. This is
probably the most
mature of the specials, avoiding the techniques that
we usually get
from a production aimed at children, and making it a
more involving
package. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this is a great special, and my
favourite of the
plethora of holiday specials that air every year.
Recommended without
hesitation. I give it 6 out of 6.

In total, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
receives 36 out of 42.