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Case Number 19958: Small Claims Court

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'Twas The Night Before Christmas: Deluxe Edition

Warner Bros. // 1974 // 24 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // October 21st, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge Paul Pritchard's Christmas tree is looking bare this year, after a cheeky elf pinched his ball balls.

Editor's Note

Our review of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (Blu-ray), published November 24th, 2011, is also available.

The Charge

A Holiday Sourpuss Brings Santa to the Rescue of a Small Town's Christmas.

The Case

The Rankin/Bass festive favorite, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas tells the familiar story of a non-believer forced to reconsider their ways and learn the true meaning of Christmas; but does so by interpreting the classic poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," which also opens the film, in a somewhat unique way.

As Christmas Eve slips into Christmas Day, a narrator reads the opening lines of the beloved poem that has become a cornerstone of Christmas Eve for so many families. Making good use of the verse, which is used to set the mood, extra emphasis is put on the, "not a creature was stirring" line. At this point we are introduced to our protagonists: the Trundle family and the Mouse family. Mr. Trundle cannot sleep, and is worriedly looking out his bedroom window while the rest of his family snoozes. At the same time, Father Mouse (and yes, he is a rodent) paces his bedroom floor, with an equally concerned look on his face.

Father Mouse, who from now on acts as the story's narrator, explains that he cannot sleep as he's racked with worry that Santa won't show. As the clock ticks ever closer to midnight, Father Mouse begins recounting the tale of how the population of Junctionville awoke one morning to find the postman had unexpectedly returned their letters to Santa. Bemused, and more than a little concerned, Father Mouse calls the North Pole, and is informed that Santa was upset with the town over a letter printed in the local newspaper. The letter in question claims that Santa is a "fraudulent myth," and is signed on behalf of the whole town. Having been informed that the town has been struck from Santa's delivery schedule, the Trundle and Mouse families must find a way to save the town's Christmas and change Santa's mind.

Sure to please little ones—especially if shown as part of their Christmas Eve viewing—'Twas the Night Before Christmas is a perfect example of the TV specials we were treated to annually in years gone by. The animation is a little sloppy, particularly by today's standards, but has a certain charm about it. Likewise, while the story may tread familiar ground, its combination of engaging characters (the town's mayor being a particular source of amusement) and short musical numbers ensure this 23-minute special comes drenched in Christmas spirit.

Considering that the main feature is worthy of inclusion in any DVD collection, it's sad to report that this "Remastered Deluxe Edition" of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas leaves so much to be desired. The entire release feels rushed, which is best exemplified by the disc's sole extra, the "Christmas: A Global Holiday" featurette. Detailing the differing traditions for Christmas around the world, this 8-minute "animated comic book" will fail to impress all but the most easily pleased of children. Surely someone could have stumped up the cash to animate the thing? As it stands, although there are plenty of interesting tidbits thrown in, the presentation is so poor it simply won't grab the attention of today's hard-to-please kids. Previously, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas has been released on DVD alongside another Christmas favorite, Frosty's Winter Wonderland. Together, and available for a darn sight less than this release, the two films offer much better value than this Deluxe Edition—remastered transfer or not.

Speaking of which, the remastered 1.33:1 transfer is nothing to shout about. The print shows signs of its age, with frequent instances of grain apparent. Otherwise, though colors are reasonably solid, the picture often appears a little on the soft side. The mono soundtrack is, not unexpectedly, flat, with the score and dialogue occasionally getting a little muffled.

The Verdict

The main feature is free to go, but this shoddy DVD release is found guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 70

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• English
• French
Running Time: 24 Minutes
Release Year: 1974
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Animation
• Christmas
• Family
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurette


• IMDb

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