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Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.
Patricia Bright, Scott Firestone, George Gobel, Joel Grey, Tammy Grimes, Bob McFadden
Writing Credits:
Clement Moore (poem), Jerome Coopersmith

When a town learns that Santa Claus has struck it off his delivery schedule due to an insulting letter, a way must be found to change his mind.

Rated G

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 24 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 10/5/2010

• “Christmas: A Global Holiday” Animated Comic Book
• Trailers
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

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'Twas The Night Before Christmas: Deluxe Edition (1974)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 13, 2010)

Any kid who grew up in the Seventies remembers the Rankin/Bass holiday specials. Though not as legendary as some others, 1974’s ’Twas the Night Before Christmas still evokes fond memories.

In this cartoon, a book-smart mouse named Albert (voiced by Tammy Grimes) prints an open letter to Santa that declares no one in his town believes that the Jolly Fat Dude exists. This creates a massive kerfuffle in Junctionville that leaves the townsfolk in desperate need of a way to mollify Santa.

Clockmaker Joshua Trundle (Joel Grey) proposes that they build a special clock to welcome St. Nick and get themselves back on his “nice” list. Trundle gets approval for this, but problems develop that threaten the project’s success.

Like Frosty the Snowman, Night comes based on an outside source. Night actually gives us a very loose adaptation of the Clement Moore poem. In fact, if the producers didn’t exploit the “…not even a mouse” line as license to create rodent lead characters, I don’t think the two would have anything in common at all. Oh, the show uses the poem toward its end, but in truth, Night borrows the title but doesn’t do anything else with its inspiration.

And you know what? That’s absolutely fine. If Night adhered more closely to the poem, it wouldn’t really have much of anywhere to go. It seems a little cheap to simply exploit the title, but I have no complaints about the story of Night.

Indeed, it provides one of the more creative of the 1970s Christmas specials. Along with a pretty good voice cast and some memorable songs, the show consistently entertains. Night doesn’t stand on a list of the most beloved Christmas programs, but I think it’s one of the best.

The DVD Grades: Picture C-/ Audio C-/ Bonus D

’Twas the Night Before Christmas appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD. Due to those dimensions, the image has NOT been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Night previously appeared as a bonus feature on the same disc as Frosty’s Winter Wonderland. Frankly, it looked pretty weak there, so I hoped this “Remastered Deluxe Edition” would provide improvements.

Unfortunately, the 2010 disc still looked mediocre at best. Sharpness tended to be average. Most shots demonstrated decent delineation, but the show never looked especially concise. More than a few instances of softness appeared, so general definition was lackluster.

I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes weren’t a factor. Source flaws became a moderate distraction. General specks and dust cropped up on a fairly consistent basis throughout the show. These weren’t heavy, but they became a minor nuisance.

Colors seemed acceptable but not much better. The hues tended to look flat; they weren’t unattractive, but they lacked vivacity, a factor that became especially noticeable given the warm holiday-oriented palette. Blacks were fine, but shadows seemed thick. Low-light shots tended to be dense and not very visible. This wasn’t an awful presentation, but it barely earned a “C-“.

More problems accompanied the drab monaural soundtrack. Speech lacked concision, as the lines tended to be brittle and sibilant; I understood dialogue, but those aspects sounded rough much of the time. Music and effects seemed lackluster at best. They failed to deliver any punch or power whatsoever. While they weren’t distorted or problematic, they simply had no range on display. This was an eminently mediocre mix.

Only one notable extra pops up here: an animated comic book called Christmas: A Global Holiday. It runs eight minutes, 50 seconds and provides a slightly glib lesson on holiday celebrations from all over the world. It should prove moderately informative for kids.

The disc opens with ads for Peanuts Holiday Collection and Classic Christmas Favorites. It also includes trailers for Lego Harry Potter and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

I remember ’Twas the Night Before Christmas fondly from my youth, and the special still holds up pretty well 36 years after its debut. The show delivers a charming, enjoyable little fable. Unfortunately, this DVD doesn’t serve it well. It gives us somewhat problematic picture and audio along with only minor supplements.

I like Night, but I can’t recommend this flawed release. If you want to own the show, either dig up a used copy of the out-of-print Classic Christmas Favorites or grab the still-in-print Frosty’s Winter Wonderland. The latter sells for less than $10 and is a much better deal than this disc. Even if Night looked/sounded good here, $20 for one 24-minute show is pricey; given the problems with the presentation, you definitely should avoid the “Deluxe Edition” and grab one of the other options instead.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
2 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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