Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July is a feature-length stop-motion animated film produced by Rankin/Bass. As the title suggests, it is a follow-up to the studio's earlier Christmas specials featuring the characters of Rudolph and Frosty. Although designed as a theatrical release (it only appeared in theaters overseas), it made its U.S. premiere on television via the ABC network. It is notable for tying in the Mickey Rooney version of Santa Claus (from Santa Claus is Comin' to Town and The Year Without a Santa Claus) with Rudolph and featuring stop-motion versions of Frosty and his family, previously seen only in standard animation.
As the movie opens, it is late June at the North Pole, and Rudolph is paying a visit to his good friend Frosty. Frosty and Crystal's children, Chilly and Milly, ask Rudolph (whom they look up to as their adoptive uncle) to light up his nose for them, but when he tries to do so, he finds that it seems to be going out. After the opening credits roll, Santa Claus, providing the opening narration, explains to the viewers why this is happening.
A very long time ago, an evil wizard king named Winterbolt had caused havoc upon the people who entered his domain. He was punished when Lady Boreal, the Queen of the Northern Lights, took on a human form and placed a spell that put him in a deep sleep. Eventually, years after Santa came to the North Pole (as seen in Santa Claus is Comin' to Town), Winterbolt woke from his coma and asked his "Genie of the Ice Scepter" (which is really more of a soothsayer) what happened in his absence. Upon learning how Santa's magic powers grow out of the love of children around the world, Winterbolt devised a scheme to trap Santa and his reindeer in a massive snowstorm on Christmas Eve, which would prevent him from delivering that year's toys. However, in her final act of magic before turning into the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights), Lady Boreal placed her magic into the newborn Rudolph's red nose, telling him that it would stop glowing if it is ever used for evil. After this, the events of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer occurred, and Winterbolt's plans were foiled by Rudolph guiding Santa's sleigh on that foggy Christmas Eve.
Back in the present, Winterbolt, having learned of how his plan failed, tries to extinguish the magic from Rudolph's nose, but after a pep talk from Frosty, Rudolph manages to survive this and his nose is lit up again. After Winterbolt's "Genie of the Ice Scepter" explains that Rudolph's nose is powered by the Aurora Borealis, the evil wizard decides that he will lure Rudolph out of the North Pole and then make him use his nose for evil, thus extinguishing it. Just then, an ice cream man named Milton arrives to pick up his annual stockade of ice cream that he sells at the sea shore on the Fourth of July. Milton explains to Rudolph that there is a big problem back home; he and his girlfriend, Lanie Loraine, had planned to marry, but her mother's Circus by the Sea is in danger of being shut down by an evil carney named Sam Spangles due to being in heavy financial debt.
Winterbolt, seeing this in his magic snow globe, plants an idea into Milton's head - to have Rudolph star in the circus, thus drawing the crowds that the circus needs to survive. Chilly and Milly want to go to the circus too, but Frosty says that, since they are snowmen, they would never survive the Florida heat. Winterbolt appears before them at this point, pretending he wants to help them. He presents Frosty's family with magic amulets that will prevent them from melting, but they will wear off after the last of the Fourth of July fireworks finishes. When Rudolph, Frosty, and Milton explain this to Santa, Winterbolt then gives Santa the idea that he and Mrs. Claus should fly into the circus on the Fourth of July to pick up Frosty and his family right before the fireworks are finished, returning them to the North Pole before they melt when Winterbolt's amulets expire.
Milton brings Rudolph, Frosty, Crystal, Chilly, and Milly to the circus and introduces them to Lanie's mother and the circus's owner, Lilly Loraine. Back at the North Pole, Winterbolt recruits the help of an evil reindeer who is everything Rudolph is not - Scratcher, a rejected member of Santa's sleigh team who was fired because he kept stealing toys and candy canes. After Winterbolt sends Scratcher out to the seashore, Santa and Mrs. Claus take off in their sleigh. At this point, Winterbolt has his two Ice Dragons conjure up a terrible hurricane, trapping the couple and forcing them to continue their journey on the ground until the storm subsides, severely delaying them from reaching the circus in time to pick up Frosty and his family.
Over in Florida, Rudolph, Frosty, Crystal, Chilly, and Milly are taking part in the circus's parade. Scratcher arrives in the crowd and meets up with Sam Spangles, the man trying to take over the circus, and says he has "an interesting proposition." Later, at the circus, Scratcher comes upon Rudolph, claiming that he has been really down on his luck and would like a job at the circus. After Rudolph's act in the circus' performance that evening, Scratcher cons him into using his nose to help him retrieve a briefcase with the performance's receipts from Lilly's wagon. Scratcher then makes Rudolph give it to a nearby police officer (actually a disguised Spangles), claiming the "cop" is going to deposit it at the bank for safekeeping and to cover part of the circus' debts.
After the circus' performance is finished, Lilly sets off the fireworks, and Frosty is worried that Santa will not arrive before the last firework fades and the amulets wear off. Lilly then finds out that the circus has been robbed, bringing Rudolph to realize that Scratcher tricked him. Winterbolt then shows up in his own sleigh, pulled by "reinsnakes". Rudolph begs Winterbolt to make the amulets' power last longer, but he says he will do it only if Rudolph's nose is still extinguished. Rudolph, realizing that his nose is no longer able to light up because he gave the circus' box office money to Sam Spangles earlier, says he is going to go tell the truth to everyone, but Winterbolt tells him that if he does that, Frosty's family will melt, so faced with a no-win situation, Rudolph is forced to take the blame and let his nose go out. His plans succeeding, Winterbolt heads back to the North Pole, telling Scratcher that now he will be the number-one reindeer there. Sam Spangles takes over the circus, and everyone is upset that Rudolph apparently gave the money to him. Worse, with his nose extinguished, Rudolph's performance in the circus is severely hampered, gaining jeers and boos from the angry audience.
While Rudolph wallows in self-pity, Frosty, the only one aware of what really happened, laments that there must be something he can do to help his friend. Winterbolt is told by his "genie" that Frosty does have something Winterbolt would want - his magic hat - and that Winterbolt could find out the secret of the hat's magic, duplicate it, and make a whole army of living snowmen. Meanwhile, Rudolph is walking on the beach when he hears a voice coming from the Northern Lights; it is the voice of Lady Boreal, who tells him that if he can be brave, his nose will be un-extinguished. Just then, Big Ben from Rudolph's Shiny New Year shows up, saying he had an urge to come here. After Rudolph explains his predicament, Big Ben swims off, saying he is going to South America.
Meanwhile, Winterbolt returns and, in order to make Frosty give up his hat, claims that he will restore the Aurora Borealis light to Rudolph's nose. Rudolph shows up just as Winterbolt has taken the hat from Frosty, who is now reduced to his inanimate state. While Frosty's wife and children cry over his motionless form, Rudolph chases after the evil wizard, who tries ambushing him with his reinsnakes. But Rudolph manages to elude the reinsnakes and then headbutts Winterbolt, causing him to drop the hat. Rudolph catches the hat and, at that moment, his nose regains its glow as he accomplished what Lady Boreal hinted at earlier: He was brave by standing up to Winterbolt and getting Frosty's hat back from him. Rudolph flies away with the hat, as Winterbolt swears he will not be defeated.
The next morning, Rudolph shows up back at the circus, accompanied by a real policeman with the stolen money. The officer explains to Lilly that Rudolph was tricked into giving the money to Spangles and then returns the hat to Frosty. After Spangles is arrested (though it is never shown what happens to Scratcher), Winterbolt shows up and prepares to destroy everyone with his Ice Scepter. Fortunately, Lilly throws her guns at the Ice Scepter, which due to being made of iron, destroy it by shattering it to pieces, and Winterbolt turns into a tree as without his Ice Scepter, he perished along with it. As a result of Winterbolt being vanquished, the storm that had grounded Santa and Mrs. Claus fades away, allowing the couple to make it to the circus. Unfortunately, Frosty and his family have now melted because the amulets that Winterbolt gave them are worthless now.
Rudolph is devastated about his friends' apparent death since the only thing that can bring them back is a December wind, which cannot happen in July. Just then, Big Ben returns, having brought Frosty's former rival, Jack Frost, all the way from South America. Jack provides the magic Christmas wind needed to revive Frosty and his family, after which Santa and Mrs. Claus finally arrive. As they get ready to bring the snowmen back to the North Pole, with Jack keeping them cool all the way, Rudolph says that he is going to temporarily stay with the circus until they have gotten out of debt. Santa explains that should not take very long, since he gave Lilly some of the Winter Warlock's magic corn that makes animals fly (from Santa Claus is Comin' to Town) to give to her animals. The movie ends with Lilly singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" as he leads her new team of flying animals.
- "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"
- "Everything I Always Wanted"
- "Everyday Is Just Like Christmas"
- "Chicken Today And Feathers Tomorrow"
- "I See Rainbows When I Look At You"
- "Don't Let The Parade Pass You By"
- "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day"
- "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
- "No Bed of Roses"
- "Frosty the Snowman"
- "Now And Then"
- "We're a Couple of Misfits"
- Clarice, Rudolph's girlfriend from the original Rudolph special, makes a brief cameo in the flashback to Rudolph's backstory. She, along with Father Time from Rudolph's Shiny New Year, can also be seen in autographed photos that fall off of the wall during the "No Bed of Roses" song. Oddly, no other character created for the original Rudolph special (aside from Rudolph's mother, Mrs. Donner) appears in the movie.
- In the flashback showing Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the Kringle elves arriving at the North Pole (based on the same scene from Santa Claus is Comin' to Town), Winter Warlock is strangely not shown alongside them.
- The 2004 DVD release has its audio one second early.
Broadcast history and availability
The film was first released on VHS by Lightning Video, a subsidiary of Vestron Video, in the 1980s. After Vestron Video was shut down in 1992 and the distribution rights for the post-1974 Rankin/Bass specials were acquired by Time Warner, Warner Home Video released the film on VHS in 1992 and 1999, and then on DVD in 2004. The DVD was also re-released as part of the Christmas Television Favorites box set. The film itself was also included, alongside other Rankin/Bass Christmas specials, on Warner's Classic Christmas Favorites and Santa's Magical Stories DVD sets.
|Ethel Merman||Lilly Loraine|
|Mickey Rooney||Santa Claus|
|Paul Frees|| Winterbolt|
Keeper of the Cave
|Billie Mae Richards||Rudolph|
|Hal Peary||Big Ben|
|Shelby Flint||Lanie Loraine|
|Don Messick|| Sam Spangles|
|Darlene Conley||Mrs. Claus|
|Nellie Bellflower||Lady Boreal|
|Robert McFadden||Santa Claus (singing)|
|Cynthia Alder||Mrs. Donner|
| Steffi Calli|
- ↑ Goldschmidt, Rick. The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass. p. 153
- Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July at the Internet Movie Database
- Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Platypus Comix's review
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