Jack Frost (TV special)
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Jack Frost is a 1979 Christmas stop motion animated television special produced by Rankin/Bass Productions. It was directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr., written by Romeo Muller, narrated by Buddy Hackett, and starring Robert Morse, Debra Clinger, and Paul Frees. The special premiered on NBC on December 13, 1979 and tells the tale of Jack Frost and his adventures as a human. It airs annually on Freeform as a part of its 25 Days of Christmas programming block.
|Written by||Romeo Muller|
|Directed by||Jules Bass|
Arthur Rankin Jr.
|Voices of||Buddy Hackett|
|Narrated by||Buddy Hackett|
|Theme music composer||Maury Laws|
|Country of origin||United States|
Arthur Rankin Jr.
|Running time||48 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Rankin/Bass Productions|
Warner Bros. Television Distribution
|Original release||December 13, 1979|
The story is narrated by a groundhog named Pardon-Me-Pete (voiced by Buddy Hackett), who has a deal with Jack Frost to extend winter by six weeks, letting him sleep that much longer. Pardon-Me-Pete starts to talk about the legend of Jack Frost.
It all starts when Jack Frost (voiced by Robert Morse), an immortal winter sprite, falls in love with a human girl named Elisa (voiced by Debra Clinger), who proclaims her love for Jack after he rescues her. Jack asks Father Winter (voiced by Paul Frees) if he can become human in order to be with her. Father Winter gives him a chance but warns that Jack must prove he can succeed as a human, by earning a house, a horse, a bag of gold, and a wife by the first sign of spring.
Jack agrees and turns human, assuming the identity of Jack Snip. He runs a tailor shop in the town of January Junction with two friends who also turned human, Snip the snowflake maker (voiced by Don Messick) and Holly the snow gypsy (voiced by Dina Lynn). Snip and Holly were sent by Father Winter to ensure Jack does not get into trouble. Elisa is charmed by "Jack Snip," but she harbors romantic dreams of Sir Ravenal Rightfellow, a "knight in golden armor."
Elisa is kidnapped by Kubla Kraus (also voiced by Paul Frees), the evil Cossack king who lives all alone in a castle on Miserable Mountain with his army of Keh-Nights, his iron horse Klangstomper, his clockwork butler Fetch-Kvetch, and a ventriloquist's dummy named Dommy as his sidekick, all made of iron since no people or any animals could stand to live with him due to his arrogance and greed. Kraus also possesses all the brick, gold, and timber that January Junction used to have. After Elisa is rescued by Sir Ravenal, Kraus vows to destroy January Junction by sending one-thousand Keh-Nights in an attempt to recapture his bride and throws Jack, Snip, and Holly in the dungeon.
Jack gives up his humanity in order to whip up the biggest blizzard ever, freezing Kraus and his one-thousand Keh-Nights in the castle. Snip and Holly change back to sprites as well. This tactic works until Groundhog Day arrives. As the sky is overcast with no sun to cast shadows, Jack Frost uses his magic shadow to scare Pardon-Me-Pete back into hibernation, and continues whipping up the storm.
Finally, with only one hour left before the arrival of spring, Jack returns to human form to stop Kraus by tricking his Keh-Nights into walking off the icy mountain to their destruction by imitating Dommy. Afterward, Jack causes Kubla to fall out of his castle and Father Winter literally blows him far away from Miserable Mountain, leaving Jack to claim the gold for himself; tames Klangstomper, making him his horse; and the castle becomes his house. He races off to ask Elisa's parents for her hand in marriage, but during his absence, she has fallen in love with Sir Ravenal, and he with her. Jack becomes a spirit again for good, and blows ice onto Elisa's wedding bouquet, turning it white. When asked about the change, she sheds a tear saying "An old friend just kissed the bride." Snip calls out to Jack that winter wouldn't be the same without him.
Before heading back to sleep, Pardon-Me-Pete says that Jack Frost still plays his tricks on him to ensure that there are six more weeks of winter, but he doesn't mind because he enjoys the extra sleep.
- Produced and Directed by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass
- Written by Romeo Muller
- Music and Lyrics by Maury Laws and Jules Bass
- Design: Paul Coker, Jr.
- Associate Producer: Masaki Iizuka
- "Animagic" Production Supervisors: Akikazu Kono, Ichiro Komuro, Hiroshi Tabata, Seiichi Araki
- Sound Recording: John Curcio, Dave Iveland, Glenn Berger, Robert Elder
- Sound Effects: Tom Clack
- Music Arranged and Conducted by Maury Laws
© 1979 Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc.
The licensing for Jack Frost was relatively lax for many years and as early as the early 1990s, independent discount home video distributors produced VHS (and later DVD) copies from 16 mm prints. The special did not, as occasionally stated, lapse into the public domain; the Copyright Act of 1976 had taken effect by the time the special was published, which granted Rankin/Bass and its successors automatic copyrights of 75 years.
In the fall of 2008, Warner Bros. via Warner Home Video (owners of the 1974–2001 Rankin/Bass library) re-released the special as an "official version" on DVD, using a digitally remastered 35 mm print as the master.