Arthur Rankin, Jr.

With his partner Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin, Jr. is responsible for the holiday movies (usually stop animation) such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman as well as other fantasies like The Hobbit and The Last Unicorn. Most of their stuff I've seen (certainly you have too), but it's been so long they're hard to review.

Frosty the Snowman (1969) -- Directed with Jules Bass.  The heartwarming Christmas story of a snowman with down syndrome. It's pretty great stuff for kids. B

The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974) -- Directed with Jules Bass.  One of the many "Christmas came after all" movies, this one having no tension whatsoever since the "problem" of the movie is resolved almost as soon as it's arisen; it just so happens that the characters don't realize it is, so much of it feels pointless.  Highlights of the show include the songs from the Snowmeiser and Heatmeiser, but since they're the same song, they become redundant.  None of this matters for kids who want to watch animated dolls. B

Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977) -- Directed with Jules Bass.  The most famous Rankin/Bass production, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, is ripped off here with Dumbo and Bambi thrown in for good measure.  Most of the story doesn't make any sense, but the main character is cute and it's over before you know it. B

The Hobbit (1978) -- Directed with Jules Bass.  Just, um, don't watch this too soon after seeing Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings. But if you're a kid (or even an adult), this isn't bad stuff at all. A pretty decent telling of this story. B

The Return of the King (1980) -- Directed with Jules Bass.  An odd movie. Sort of a sequel to the previous Rankin/Bass movie The Hobbit, but instead of telling the entire Lord of the Rings, this simply tells the last book. The only reason being, as far as I can figure, because Ralph Bakshi covered the first two books in his animated movie, allowing for the three directors to round out the entire epic in cartoon form. The movie basically centers on Sam and his troubles in helping Mr. Frodo destroy the ring. It takes a good long while to get started, would be very confusing as a stand-alone piece (especially to kids, who this seems to be aimed at, only it's probably too dark--not the nice balance The Hobbit struck), but has some moments here and there that work pretty well. B

Copyright (c) Jan 2004 - Jan 2006 by Rusty Likes Movies