I continue my countdown of my 10 favorite Christmas movies/specials with another supermarionation classic. Rankin and Bass finally created a cohesive North Pole world with recurring voice actors reprising their roles. That began with…
Fred Astaire plays your friendly neighborhood mail carrier and he narrates the story of Santa Claus’ origins. Mickey Rooney begins his run as Kris Kringle/St. Nicholas/Santa Claus.
This special gives us Burgermeister Meisterburger, a despotic ruler who hates toys and fun in general. A clan of toy makers raises Kris Kringle, an orphan left on their doorstep in a basket as a baby. Eventually, Kris decides to become the deliverer of toys to the children of Somber Town, which is ruled by Burgermeister.
Kris is branded as an outlaw even as he falls in love with the local schoolmistress. The story also explains how it came to be that reindeer can fly as the Winter Warlock provides the magic beans for this central element to the legend.
When he was dropped off with the Kringles, he wore a nametag that said “Claus.” It was a short walk to Santa Claus.
I enjoy this one for numerous reasons. I look at it as the origin story of Santa Claus, but it also tells the tale of how Jessica, Somber Town’s school marm, became Mrs. Claus. Kris’ outlaw status drives our merry band of toy distributing fugitives all the way to the North Pole.
I don’t recall noticing any odd overtones or subtext with this other than maybe a shot at Eastern Bloc and Iron Curtain-type governments. Of course, the Christmas classic song Santa Claus is Coming to Town is included, a great tune that has been covered and recorded more times than I can count. The song dates back to 1934, and it wouldn’t bother me any if of every copy of the Bruce Springsteen version was destroyed.
Stay tuned kiddies, more supermarionation on the way.