In our household it is simply not the holiday season without watching the stop-motion classics of Rankin/Bass. Every year we watch at least a few of these classic films to get in the spirit of the season. Rankin/Bass is the production company founded in 1960 by Arthur Rankin, Jr., and Jules Bass.
While Rankin/Bass have made dozens of stop-motion or animated movies over the years, only a handful live up to the reputation they have built. Some of the lesser known films are lesser known for a reason. While the likes of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are perennially Christmas classics. Did you know that 1964’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the longest-running special on television?
In honor of the holiday season, we ranked our favorite Rankin/Bass movies.
10. Rudolph’s Shiny New Year (1976)
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer must save the day when Happy, the new baby New Year, goes missing. Father Time asks Rudolph to search the Archipelago of Last Years, where old years go when they retire. Happy must be found by midnight, or the old year will not end. As Rudolph and his friends search for Happy, they encounter Aeon, a buzzard whose aim is to kidnap the baby New Year, hoping to keep the calendar on Dec. 31 forever.
9. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974)
When Santa Claus removes the citizens of a small town from his delivery itinerary after an insulting letter in the newspaper, a clockmaker and his family endeavor to regain his favor.
8. Nestor, The Long-eared Christmas Donkey (1977)
Guided by his guardian cherub, an orphan donkey realizes his destiny on the road to Bethlehem. Starring Roger Miller, Eric Stern, Brenda Vaccaro, and Paul Frees.
7. The Little Drummer Boy (1968)
An orphaned boy who hates humanity encounters the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Music by the Vienna Boys Choir. Starring Greer Garson, José Ferrer, Paul Frees, and June Foray.
6. Jack Frost (1979)
The story is narrated by a groundhog named Pardon-Me-Pete, who has a deal with Jack Frost to extend winter by 6 weeks, letting him sleep that much longer. Pete starts to talk about the legend of Jack Frost. Starring Robert Morse, Paul Frees, Buddy Hackett, and Larry Storch.
5. The Stingiest Man in Town (1978)
The Stingiest Man in Town is a re-telling of Charles Dickens‘ “A Christmas Carol.” The movie stars Walter Matthau, Robert Morse, Tom Bosley, Theodore Bikel and more.
4. Frosty the Snowman (1969)
A discarded magic top hat brings to life the snowman that a group of children made, until a magician, professor Hinkle, wants it back, and the temperature starts to rise. Frosty will melt or no longer be a jolly soul, if the kids cannot get him away from Hinkle and warm weather, so he hops a train to the North Pole with young Karen.
3. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970)
A lanky mailman, voiced by Fred Astaire, tells the story of Santa Claus. Adopted by an elf family named Kringle, young Kris longs to restore the Kringle reputation as toymakers to the king, but the evil Burgermeister Meisterburger has outlawed toys in Sombertown. Overcoming the opposition of both the Burgermeister and the Winter Warlock, Kris begins delivering toys not only to the children on Sombertown, but all around the world as well.
2. The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974)
Sidelined by a nasty cold and feeling unneeded, Santa decides not to make his annual Christmas journey. Elves Jingle and Jangle scour the world to find people who still believe, hoping to convince the jolly old elf to make his trip anyway. They run into trouble in Southtown, however, and the only way they can get out of their predicament is to make it snow in the warm climate. Meanwhile, Santa sees evidence that people do still believe, and a little girl’s touching letter prompts him to pack up the sleigh and head out on his annual trek, making a special stop in the now-snowy Southtown.
1. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is an animagic version of the classic Christmas tale adds a bit of a twist when Rudolph encounters an abominable snowman. The film stars Burl Ives, Larry D. Mann, Billie Mae Richards, and Paul Soles.