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The Amazing Animated Films of Rankin-Bass

Discussion in 'Other / Multiple Studios' started by sidestreetsam, Feb 7, 2014.

  1. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    Rankin-bass-1969.jpg

    ~ Howdy, Folks!

    ~ According to Wikipedia...

    Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc. (also called Videocraft International, Ltd.) was an American production company, known for its seasonal television specials, particularly its work in stop-motion animation. The pre-1974 library is owned by DreamWorks Classics, while the post-1974 library is owned by Warner Bros.. Rankin/Bass stop-motion features are recognizable by their visual style of doll-like characters with spheroid body parts, and ubiquitous powdery snow using an animation technique called "Animagic." Often, traditional cel animation scenes of falling snow would be projected over the action to create the effect of a snowfall.

    The company was founded by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass on September 14, 1960, as Videocraft International. The majority of Rankin/Bass' work, including all of their "Animagic" stop-motion productions, were created in Japan. Throughout the 1960s, the Animagic productions were headed by Japanese stop-motion animator Tadahito Mochinaga.

    Their traditionally cel-animated works were animated by Toei Animation, Crawley Films, and Mushi Production, and since the 1970s, they were animated by the Japanese studio Topcraft, which was formed in 1972 as an offshoot of Toei Animation. Many Topcraft staffers, including the studio's founder Toru Hara (who was credited in some of Rankin/Bass' specials), would go on to join its successor Studio Ghibli and work on Hayao Miyazaki's feature films, including Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and My Neighbor Totoro.

    One of Videocraft's first projects was an independently produced series based on the character Pinocchio. It was done using "Animagic", a stop motion animation process using figurines (a process already pioneered by George Pal's "Puppetoons" and Art Clokey's Gumby and Davey and Goliath).

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  2. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Howdy, Folks!

    ~ According to Wikipedia...

    Pinocchio was followed by another independently produced series using more traditional cel animation and based on already established characters, Tales of the Wizard of Oz in 1961.

  3. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    [santa] ~ Howdy, Folks!

    ~ According to Wikipedia...

    One of the mainstays of the business was holiday themed animated specials for airing on American television. In 1964, the company produced a special for NBC and sponsor (and later owner of NBC) General Electric. It was a stop-motion animated adaptation of the Johnny Marks song "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (which had been made into a cartoon by Dave Fleischer, brother & former partner with Max Fleischer, as a traditional animated short for the Jam Handy Film Company almost two decades before). This features Billie Mae Richards as the voice of the title character.

    With narrator Burl Ives in the role of Sam the Snowman and an original orchestral score composed by Marks himself, Rudolph became one of the most popular and longest-running Christmas specials in television history: it remained with NBC until around 1972, and currently runs several times during the Christmas season on CBS. The special contained seven original songs. In 1965, a new song was filmed in replacement of "We're A Couple Of Misfits", "Fame and Fortune."

  4. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Howdy, Folks!

    The success of Rudolph led to numerous other Christmas specials. the first of which was The Cricket on the Hearth introduced in a live-action prologue by Danny Thomas in 1967.

  5. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Howdy, Folks!

    The Cricket on the Hearth was followed by a Thanksgiving special, Mouse on the Mayflower as told by Tennessee Ernie Ford in 1968.

    Last edited: Feb 9, 2014
  6. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Howdy, Folks!

    Many of their other specials, like Rudolph, were based on popular Christmas songs. In 1968, Greer Garson provided dramatic narration for The Little Drummer Boy, based on the traditional song and set during the birth of the baby Jesus. That year, Videocraft (whose logo dominated the Rankin/Bass logo in the closing credit sequences), changed its name to Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc., and adopted a new logo, retaining a Videocraft byline in their closing credits until 1971.

  7. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Howdy, Gang!

    The following year in 1969, Jimmy Durante sang and told the story of Frosty the Snowman, with Jackie Vernon voicing the title character.

  8. sidestreetsam

    sidestreetsam Moderator Staff Member Forum Member New Member

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    ~ Hey, Animation Fans!

    1970 brought another Christmas special, Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town. Rankin/Bass enlisted Fred Astaire as narrator S.D. (Special Delivery) Kluger, a mailman answering children's questions about Santa Claus and telling his origin story. The story involved young Kris Kringle (voiced by Mickey Rooney) and his nemesis the Burgermeister Meisterburger (voiced by Paul Frees). Kringle later marries the town's schoolteacher, Miss Jessica (voiced by Robie Lester).

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  9. Minotaur714

    Minotaur714 Intern Forum Member New Member

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    Some great memories here. Aside from thier holiday specials, I remember both Pinocchio and The Wizard of Oz from my childhood. They made specials and shows that didn't just come and go, but always stayed with you.

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