Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Here we are again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  You know the drill...I watch a movie and blog about it.  This time out, I'm doing the original animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  I originally watched this and wrote this on December 16, 2018.

Well, as I remarked earlier, this seems to be the  year when I finally buy a bunch of Christmas movies on home media so I can watch them on my own schedule.  I thought I was done, but with some time to kill while I was waiting on my sister, I found myself picking up How the Grinch Stole Christmas...the original TV special, not any of the movies. 

I kinda agree with Ren and Stimpy creator John Krikfalusi.  When another Dr. Seuss film hit theatres -- I think it was Horton Hears a Who -- he remarked online that Dr. Seuss adaptations work best as short films, because then you don't have to add so much padding.  Which is why the best adaptation of The Grinch is this 24-minute animated special from 1966. 

As is my way, I've been googling this to find out some more backstory.  Apparently, Dr. Seuss was done with Hollywood, as his first attempt at writing a screenplay, a little film called The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, turned out to be a colossal flop.  But, coming off the success of A Charlie Brown Christmas, American TV network CBS was hot for another animated Christmas special.  So, legendary animator Chuck Jones approached Dr. Seuss about adapting The Grinch.  As Dr. Seuss and Jones had been lifelong friends, having worked together producing training films during World War II, Seuss entrusted Jones with The Grinch, and even helped write the screenplay, and the now legendary songs from the special. 

Sadly, The Grinch is another one that's been subject to edits over the years, as they make more room for commercials.  And, even though it's just 24 minutes without commercials, Jones still had to add some padding.  One very memorable sequence is a slapstick-filled sleigh ride as the Grinch and his dog Max make their way to Whoville.  I had completely forgotten about it until it was on TV last year.  In 2018, they made a big fuss about showing it on TV for the first time in a long time uncut. 

In fact, in that chase, and in a lot of the film as I watched it tonight, I was really picking up on Chuck Jones' style.  There are moments where it does feel like a good ol' Loony Toons cartoon. 

There's actually only three songs in the entire thing, but it's amazing how You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch has become a holiday standard.  Performed by jazz singer Thurl Ravenscroft, also known as the voice of Tony the Tiger.  According to legend, Dr. Seuss was so upset that Ravenscroft went uncredited in the special, that he sent letters to TV critics all across the land, urging them to mention it in their reviews. 

Just great voice work all around.  Again, according to legend, it did raise eyebrows when Chuck Jones selected Frankenstein's Monster himself, Boris Karloff, to serve as the narrator, but he did a stellar job.  As a friend of mine once remarked, he associates Karloff more with Christmas now than Halloween thanks to the Grinch. 

Anyway, the original animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas is truly a classic, and it's just not Christmas without it

No comments: