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Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1970) and The Little Drummer Boy (1968) – DVD Review

Santa Claus is Coming to Town DVD cover art


Written by Romeo Muller
Directed by Jules Bass & Arthur Rankin, Jr.
Santa Claus Stars the voices of Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney, Keenan Wynn, Paul Frees, Robie Lester

Drummer Boy Stars the voices of José Ferrer, Paul Frees, June Foray, Ted Eccles, Greer Garson

Released by: Sony Wonder.
Rating: NR.
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Avoid it.

Ever wonder why Santa (Rooney) wears a red suit? Ever wonder why he comes down a chimney? Ever wonder how he became the man who delivers all those presents to all the good little boys and girls every year? Ever wonder how he became immortal? (Well, after all, there can be only one…) Well, all you need to do is watch this show and you’ll see all this and more!

[ad#longpost]As an orphan, baby Claus was delivered by chance to the house of the Elf Queen in Rainbow River Valley, where, as he grew up, he learned all kinds of things, like how to make toys. Unfortunately, there were no children in Rainbow River Valley. See, they lived across the Mountains of the Whispering Winds in Sombertown, but the elves could never make it across the mountains. Well, guess who finally is able to clear the mountains? You guessed it, our little man Kris Kringle (a.k.a. Santa Claus). Well, the mayor of Sombertown, Meisterberger Bergermeister (voiced by the legendary Paul Frees) has a different idea. He has ordered a complete and total ban on toys and toymakers in Sombertown. Oh yeah, and the future Mrs. Clause was a babe (and yes, I know she’s made of clay) and her name is Jessica (Lester).

Of all the classic Christmas songs that have been adapted into an hour-long show, this is definitely on the weaker end of the spectrum. The songs feel forced and the story contrived. All of the given circumstances behind each of the lines of the song are not really all that original: for example, the magic feed corn that has its only purpose to make reindeer fly. They’re not really all that imaginative. It seems that they went for either the first or easiest ideas that came into their heads. But, darn it, it’s still a wonderful show for very small children to watch.

As for The Little Drummer Boy, Aaron (voiced by Eccles) hates the human race. But he has a reason to: his parents were killed at an early age. So, he surrounds himself with a lamb and a donkey. Anyway, Aaron plays a drum. This twenty-two minute program takes you on the journey that winds up with him at the birth of the Son of God. Not bad for a little kid in just twenty-two minutes, huh? Well, yeah, but this and Santa Claus is Coming to Town are running neck and neck for being the weakest adaptations. Eccles sounds like he’s reading the newspaper rather than playing a character and even the animation seems weak.

Young Santa from Santa Claus is Coming to Town

The Little Drummer Boy

Plus, there’s no bonus material for either one of these stories on this DVD. No art galleries, no talk with anyone involved with the productions, not even any superfluous stills for me to shake my fist at. There is essentially an hour-and-a-half worth of primary material on this DVD. That means they wasted a helluvalotta space making this disc. And I’m not happy about it.

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