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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
Spanish Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 24 min.
Price: $24.98
Release Date: 10/4/2011

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


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 [Blu-Ray] (1974)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 18, 2011)

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 Blu-ray Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C/ Bonus D+

’Twas the Night Before Christmas appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This never became a stellar presentation, but it usually looked good.

Sharpness tended to be average. Most shots demonstrated decent delineation, but the show never looked especially concise. I suspect that this stemmed from the source, however, as the variations in accuracy appeared to result mostly from the quick, shoddy animation.

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. This was another issue that appeared to come from the cheapness of the animation; the vast majority of the distractions appeared in the form of poor clean-up work.

Colors seemed pretty good. The show offered a warm holiday-oriented palette that never quite dazzled, but the hues seemed fairly rich. Blacks were fine, but shadows seemed thick. Low-light shots tended to be dense and not very visible. Despite some flaws inherent in its lackluster production values, Night offered a reasonably attractive image.

I felt about the same in regard to the show’s monaural soundtrack. Speech could be brittle and sibilant, but that wasn’t a serious concern. While the lines were never especially natural, they appeared intelligible and clear enough.

Music and effects seemed lackluster, as they failed to deliver any punch or power whatsoever. While they weren’t distorted or problematic, they simply had little range on display. Some song vocals tended to be rough, though. This track didn’t have significant flaws, but it also had few strengths.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD from 2010? The audio was a bit cleaner and smoother, while the visuals displayed improved detail and color clarity. The show’s limitations restricted the level of growth the Blu-ray could display, but it did demonstrate an uptick in quality.

The Blu-ray comes with the same extras as the DVD. The only slightly notable attraction comes from an animated comic book called Christmas: A Global Holiday. It runs eight minutes, 51 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 How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Peanuts Holiday Collection Blu-ray and Happiness Is… Peanuts Snow Days. It also tosses in a promo for Santa’s Magical Stories.

The Blu-ray package also includes a DVD copy of Night. This is the same 2010 DVD linked above.

I remember ’Twas the Night Before Christmas fondly from my youth, and the special still holds up pretty well 37 years after its debut. The show delivers a charming, enjoyable little fable. The Blu-ray provides it in decent fashion, but picture and audio are held back by the flaws of the source material, and we get skimpy supplements. I enjoy Night but $25 MSRP for a short special seems like a lot to pay.

To rate this film visit the Deluxe Edition review of 'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

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