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The Little Drummer Boy (TV special)
|The Little Drummer Boy|
Official release promotional poster
|Based on||"The Little Drummer Boy" Katherine Davis
|Written by||Romeo Muller|
|Narrated by||Greer Garson|
|Theme music composer||Maury Laws|
|Country of origin||
|Cinematography||Takeo Nakamura (uncredited)|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Production company||Rankin/Bass Productions|
|Original release||December 19, 1968 (1968-12-19)|
|Followed by||The Little Drummer Boy, Book II|
The Little Drummer Boy is a stop motion television special produced by Rankin/Bass Productions, based on the song of the same name. It was first televised December 19, 1968, on NBC, and was followed by a sequel in 1976.
A young boy named Aaron lives with his parents on a farm with their three farm animals, Samson the Donkey, Baba the Lamb, and Joshua the Camel. On his birthday, Aaron's parents give him a drum, to which the animals dance when he plays it. One night, bandits from the desert steal all the livestock, kill Aaron's parents, and burn their farm down, causing Aaron to hate all humanity. Because his drumming can make the three animals dance, Aaron is forced to join Ben Haramed's caravan with rather inept performers. When performing in Jerusalem, Aaron becomes infuriated by the townspeople's amusement and lashes out at them for being thieves and knaves.
Some time later, the troupe comes upon the Magi caravan who are following a bright star in the sky. Seizing his chance, Ben greedily attempts to perform for the Magi, but they are uninterested as they try to make haste to get to the star's destination. One of the caravan camels becomes too weak to continue traveling and the Magi has no extra camel, so Ben seizes Aaron and bargains with them that they use Joshua in exchange for some of their gold, but Aaron refuses to take any gold from Ben and leaves for Bethlehem with Samson and Baba. There, upon recognizing Joshua and trying to reunite with him, Baba is hit by a Roman chariot. Aaron takes him to the Magi to be healed. However, they can do nothing, but insist that maybe the baby can help. Having no gift to give to the baby, Aaron decides that his "gift" to Him and His parents will be his playing his drum for them. As a sign of gratitude, Baba is healed and runs into Aaron's arms, filling Aaron's heart with joy at last.
- Greer Garson as the storyteller
- Teddy Eccles as Aaron
- Jose Ferrer as Ben Haramad
- Paul Frees as Ali, Aaron's father, the Three Wise Men, Samson, Joshua, Baba, and other male roles
- June Foray as Aaron's mother
- The Vienna Boys' Choir singing the title song.
- Producers/Directors: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin, Jr.
- Writer: Romeo Muller
- Based upon "The Little Drummer Boy" by Katherine Davis, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone
- Music: Maury Laws
- Lyrics: Jules Bass
- Designers: Donald Duga, Charles Frazier
- Musical Director: Colin Romoff
- Recordings: Jim Harris, Phil Kaye
- Production Supervisors: Takeo Nakamura and Hiroshi Tabata (both uncredited)
The Little Drummer Boy received an approval rating of 75% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on thirteen reviews. The site's critical consensus reads: The Little Drummer Boy is a mature addition to the Rankin-Bass catalogue, with a powerful conclusion that compensates for the special's dour storytelling and unpolished animation."
In 1976, Rankin/Bass produced a sequel, titled The Little Drummer Boy, Book II, again sponsored by the American Gas Association. It premiered on December 13, 1976, also on NBC, and like its predecessor, has also aired on Freeform and separately on AMC as of 2018. Warner Bros. is the show's current distributor through their ownership of the post-1974 Rankin/Bass Productions library. In this sequel, written by Jules Bass (under the pseudonym Julian P. Gardner), Aaron and his animal friends team up with Melchior, one of the Magi, to protect silver bells, made to ring for Christ's arrival, from a band of greedy Roman soldiers. Warner Archive released The Little Drummer Boy Book II, in a collection called Rankin/Bass TV Holiday Favorites Collection.
- Produced and Directed by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass
- Written by Julian P. Gardner
- Based upon "The Little Drummer Boy" by Catherine Davis, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone
- "Do You Hear What I Hear?" – Words and Music by Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne
- Music by Maury Laws
- Lyrics by Jules Bass
- Sound by John Curcio, Don Hahn, Dave Iveland and Tom Clack
- "Animagic" by Akikazu Kono and Satoshi Fujino
- Greer Garson as Our Storyteller
- Zero Mostel as Brutus
- David Jay
- Bob McFadden
- Tom Bosley
- Ray Owens as Melchior
- Allen Swift
- Crump, William D. (2019). Happy Holidays—Animated! A Worldwide Encyclopedia of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Cartoons on Television and Film. McFarland & Co. p. 169. ISBN 9781476672939.
- "The Little Drummer Boy". 19 December 1968 – via www.imdb.com.
- "AMC Presents Its Largest Slate Of Holiday Programming With "AMC Best Christmas Ever"". 8 November 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
- "The Little Drummer Boy Book II". 13 December 1976 – via www.imdb.com.
- "Movie Reviews". 24 December 2017 – via NYTimes.com.
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