Once upon a Christmas season, there was a television show called How The Grinch Stole Christmas. A television show that explicitly had a message that Christmas was neither a celebration of the birth of Christ, nor was it something that comes in a box, but rather is a matter of remembering that we hold each other in our hearts. Warm, fuzzy, and aggressively secular. In 1966 no less!
Aired on December 18th on CBS, the short film, just 26 minutes long, aired on that network for 21 years; AbC has aired it starting 2006, and then Turner Broadcasting has been airing. I just watched it after getting it off iTunes where it comes bundled with Horton Hears A Who. (Both of these would be made into films that were awful.) This animated version was written by Christine Kenne from the brief children’s book by Theodore Geisel writing as Dr. Suess; it was produced by him and Chuck Jones who also directed it rather brilliantly.
The animation style looks more than a little flat but that just adds to the feel of it being a folk tale about a villain in his lair high on the mountain, The Grinch, who decides he can’t stand all the noise and commotion of the Whos down in Whoville enjoying Christmas. Not to mention his disgust at them eating the rare roast beast. So he concocts a brilliant scheme to dress as Santie (sic) Claus and take a sleigh down into Whoville (his dog Max with an antler tied to his head being a poor substitute for a reindeer) and steal everything down and including a crumb of food so small that even a mouse wouldn’t eat it.
So up to the top of Mount Crumpet he rides waiting for them to all go ‘boo who’ when they discover everything is gone, but instead he hears them all signing out in joyful voices thereby providing the upbeat moral of this which I noted previously Hearing this, his heart grows two sizes and he rescues the now falling load with ‘the strength of ten Grinches plus two’. Riding into Whoville, he grins ear to ear, and he, the now reformed villain, has the honor of carving the roast beast.
I watch it every year this as I really like it. I love the bit, used twice, of increasingly small Whos, once serving tea and the second time a strawberry to a small Who girl, by coming out of a series of covered dishes.
A final note must be devoted to this being one of the last performances of Boris Karloff who both narrated it, voiced The Grinch andral of this tale which I noted above sung all of its songs save ‘You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch’ which was, though uncredited, sung by Thurl Ravenscroft. Karloff won the only performance award he got as he was awarded a Grammy in the Spoken Ward category!
If you’ve not seen it, go watch it now. It’s one of the best Christmas shows ever!