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The Enchanted World Of Rankin/Bass: A Portfolio - 15th Anniversary Edition

by Kevin Taft
Contributor
Thursday Feb 7, 2013
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"Pull up an iceberg and lend an ear," because Rankin/Bass fans are going to be on a week-long high once they get their hands on "The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass: A Portfolio - 15th Anniversary Edition." The updated coffee table book by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass historian Rick Goldschmidt is a gorgeous and comprehensive look at the entire filmography of the Rankin/Bass team that brought us such TV classics as "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," as well as films such as "The Hobbit" and "Mad Monster Party."

With a lovely foreword by Burl Ives (who provided the voice of Sam the Snowman in "Rudolph"), the hardcover book is divided up into chapters: Television Specials. Television Series, Theatrical Features, and The Rest of the Story that talks about the live-action films and the legacy Rankin/Bass has left behind. What author Goldschmidt has done is allow the reader to get an intimate look into each and every project Rankin/Bass created. Each program/film includes all of the cast and crew, the air/release date, and a number of fun trivia. Want to know why the song ""We’re a Couple of Misfits" was cut from "Rudolph" and replaced with "Fame and Fortune?" You’ll find out. Want to know what’s wrong with the girl doll on the "Land of Misfit Toys?" You’ll get an answer there too. Even if it’s hilariously vague.

Interestingly, the Rankin/Bass duo was involved in so much more than the holiday specials for which they are most famous. Aside from "The Osmonds" TV special and something called "The King Kong Show," they also branched out to live action feature films that still have that Rankin/Bass flair. "The Last Dinosaur" and "The Ivory Ape" are just two of their greatest and campiest.

What’s fascinating is being able to look at shows and films that aren’t as readily available and reading all about their production and history. But the best part is the extensive collection of pictures (both black and white and color) that help illustrate these masterpieces and allow those of us old enough to remember a nice trip down memory lane. We not only get stills from the projects, but also copies of sheet music, behind-the-scenes photos, original newspaper advertisements, movie posters (both foreign and domestic) and collages of collectible merchandise from the 60’s through today. There are books, magazines, dolls, board games, toys, coloring books, record albums, ornaments and candy - all presented with a rich clarity that is an absolute treat to peruse.

At 296 pages there is a lot of information here and it will take some time to work your way through, but that’s the fun of it!

At 296 pages there is a lot of information here and it will take some time to work your way through, but that’s the fun of it! Goldschmidt has arranged it in a way that is easy to read, highly revealing, and displayed in a scrapbook style that never gets tiring. Every page is chock-full of fascinating facts, interviews, photos and tidbits; you could probably read through the book twice and still find new things to look at. The indexes alone could take you hours and are so detailed (there’s one appendix that lists all of the programs and their home video availability) I feel like Goldschmidt deserves a very long vacation.

For Rankin/Bass fans (and there is a certain generation that this will most definitely appeal to) this is the best Christmas gift since the first airing of "Rudolph" in 1964. And you know what’s great? You don’t have to wait until Christmas! It’s available right now from www.miserbros.com for $59.95 (trust me that’s a good price for what you’ll be getting) and can be signed by the author for free! You can also request a Book/Bookplate version. The bookplate comes signed by Rick Goldschmidt and Rankin/Bass illustrators Jack Davis and Paul Coker, Jr.

So what are you waiting for? Get out of Somber Town, Put One Foot in Front of the Other, and let your World Begin Today.

Because a world without Rankin/Bass is a somber one indeed.

by Rick Goldschmidt

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to ’Star Wars’ and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg. He can be seen in the flesh on the weekly PBS movie review series "Just Seen It."

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