Sunday, December 22, 2013

Countdown to Christmas: The Little Drummer Boy (1968)

Rankin-Bass scored another "animagic" hit in 1968 with their adaptation of The Little Drummer Boy. The Christmas classic has been recorded by artists as diverse as Jose Feliciano, Bob Seger, Johnny Cash, and the Harry Simeone Chorale, whose version plays on the soundtrack.

Ted Eccles (The Herculoids, Banana Splits) is the title character, a wayfaring shepherd boy named Aaron who gets a very important life lesson as he delivers a gift to the Baby Jesus. Jose Ferrer & Paul Frees (natch) co-star, with acclaimed actress Greer Garson narrating. 8 years later, NBC & the American Gas Company commissioned a sequel, and, so, today, the two are often shown together on ABC Family, which currently holds the cable rights.

Regrettably, the complete special isn't available due to copyright issues precluding the complete broadcast from being uploaded. Hence, Christmas Favorites gives us a sample clip, as Aaron seeks aid for a fallen lamb.

Rating: B.


magicdog said...

I haven't seen this chestnut in a while, but I did watch it many times as a kid.

It and "Nestor, The Long Eared Donkey" were among the sadder offerings offered to kids at Christmastime, but since I was watching with my parents, they helped explain things.

I didn't realize Eccles was the voice of the drummer boy. I had thought it was a woman doing a boys voice. Listening to this clip, it sounds like Eccles' voice was on the cusp of changing - it was slightly deeper than the Dorno or Tooly voices.

hobbyfan said...

Actually, if you listen closer, Eccles went out of his way to make Aaron sound as distinctly different from his other characters, though there's some of Tooly's attitude mixed in.

Of course, we should note that a few years later, we could put a face to the voice, as he co-starred in the "Dr. Shrinker" seg of Krofft Supershow, to my knowledge his only live-action credit and his last SatAM work.