The origin of Santa Claus.
Day 11 is here already and we are almost to the half way point on our countdown. So for Day 11 I choose my favorite of the older Christmas TV specials.
Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town
Directors: Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr.
“A mailman reveals the origin of Santa Claus.”
Have you ever wondered where Santa Claus came from, or how is Reindeer can fly? Well Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town 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. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town is a stop-motion Christmas television special produced by Rankin/Bass. The special, originally broadcast on ABC on December 14, 1970.
The story is told by a friendly Mailman who decides to answer some of the most common questions about Santa Claus. He tells us about a small baby named Kris who was left on the doorstep of the Kringle family, and is taken in by the family of toy-makers. When Kris grew up, he took it upon himself to bring some happiness to the children of Somber-town, despite the grumpy opposition of Burgermeister Meisterburger. To make things worse, there’s an evil wizard named Winter who lives between the Kringles and Somber-town, and he tries to prevent Kris from passing through. After a while Kris manages to melt Winter’s heart and deliver his toys to the children. While in town Kris meets Jessica a schoolteacher and they fall in love. However the Burgermeister is not happy and destroys the Kringle home and puts a bounty on Kris’s head. After spending months of being an outlaw and discovering that their home was destroyed, Kris returns to the woods, where he grows a beard as a disguise. Tante Kringle also suggests that he return to his birth name “Claus” for safety. Kris asks Jessica to share the name Claus with him, as his wife. After their marriage ceremony, Kris, Jessica and the rest of the group travel to the North Pole, where they eventually build Santa Claus’s Castle and Workshop. The Burgermeister vowed that his family would hunt down Kris Kringle throughout the land; not knowing that Kris grew a beard and he’s going by the name of Claus. Eventually, the Meisterbergers died out and everyone realizes how silly their laws were and abolishes them. Claus’ legend goes worldwide, and, having now become Santa Claus, he realizes that he cannot keep up with all the toy requests throughout the year. So he makes a resolution to visit just once a year, on December 24 Christmas Eve. Just as Santa is about to leave Winter informs him that he has his magic powers back and that there will be a white Christmas.
The film ends as S.D. Kluger reflects on what Santa’s true meaning is. S.D. then remembers that he still has to deliver letters to Santa and he leaves for the North Pole, joined by Topper, Winter, The Kringle family, and a parade of children as they sing “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”. The final shot we see Santa and Jessica (Mrs. Claus) in their castle. Santa steps out of his castle and waves to the viewers.
Here is the ending of the film:
The film stars actor Fred Astaire as S.D. Kluger, the narrator, and Mickey Rooney as Kris Kringle/Santa Claus. Keenan Wynn does the voice of the Winter Warlock and Paul Frees does the voice for a few characters in the film including the Burgermeister Meisterburger, Grimsby, Soldier, Townsmen, and the Doctor.
I have always preferred Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town over the other Rankin-Bass Christmas titles including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and Frosty Returns. I just think it has everything you would want in a Christmas Special. The film was even turned into a video game for the Nintendo DS and Wii which was released on November 1, 2011.
Here is a custom trailer I found on you tube. (I couldn’t find an official trailer):
Make sure to keep checking back every day as our countdown continues and see what films we choose for the final week.