December 11, 2008
AEJ and I watched a few Christmas shows this week. First up was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer — the stop-motion classic. We have it on DVD — complete and unedited (don’t get too excited; it’s not like there are extra booby scenes or anything) — but this year we watched it on CBS, who was claiming to have a remastered transfer. It did look better, but the editing was awful, with cuts in the middle of song verses. You suck, CBS.
I think of all of the Christmas specials, Rudolph is my favorite, and the songs by Johnny Marks are the biggest reason why. I can’t help but think, though, when I hear “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Holly Jolly Christmas,” and I know he also wrote “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” I just think… Holy crap, those were some royalties.
Also when watching “Rudolph” each year, I wonder when Hermey is going to come out. Hermey says he’s a “misfit.” He doesn’t want to “make toys,” he’d rather be a “dentist” (wink, wink). I know what you’re saying, Hermey, and you don’t have to hide behind euphemisms. It’s 2008, buddy. We’re cool with it. Come on outta there.
Did you know that there are other stop-motion movies by the same team that made “Rudolph?” There are a few really good ones like “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and “The Year Without a Santa Claus” (featuring the awesome Mr. Heat Miser / Mr. Snow Miser song, with the best trombone writing in any Christmas song ever – here’s the MP3). I think maybe Mr. Heat Miser should take Hermie under his wing.
There were also a few gawd-awful duds, though — like “Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey.” Seriously.
We also watched “Holiday Inn” a few nights ago. I’d never seen it, but I knew it as the movie that introduced the classic song, “White Christmas.” This was the full, original version of “Holiday Inn,” watched via the cool new Netflix OnDemand streaming service. In most broadcasts for probably the past 25 years, the movie has been edited, cutting a truly off-key and bizarre number: “Abraham.” It seems the holidays at Holiday Inn really were all very, very white. So white that the song about Lincoln’s Birthday, celebrating Lincoln freeing the slaves, features two of the characters — one of them being Bing Crosby — singing the song in black face. I shit thee not. Bing F’ing Crosby — in black face.
Here we were watching a cheery Christmas movie, and then there’s this black face number. It somehow didn’t seem malicious — just incredibly dated and out-of-touch. Still, I was shocked. (This is an actual image of me, captured during the number.)
To close, due to popular demand (and because it’s become a tradition here on the blog), here is the recording of the Worst Nutcracker Ever. It’s the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, performed by an unknown ensemble, and emailed to me back in 2004 by John Corigliano. Happy holidays!