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Western Animation / Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July

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Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July is a Rankin/Bass Productions feature-length Christmas Special, which premiered on ABC on November 25, 1979note . It is notable for having several Christmas and winter icons — Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, and Santa Claus — in the same special, along with characters from past specials making appearances.

Long before Santa Claus came to power, the North Pole was ruled by a Sorcerous Overlord called Winterbolt. He was defeated when the Northern Lights took human form and cast him into a deep sleep. But as Lady Boreal says, "Nothing is forever". Upon awaking, Winterbolt determines to upend Santa by creating the worst snowstorm ever — the snowstorm, in fact, only to be foiled once again by Lady Boreal, who created Rudolph's shiny red nose to counter Winterbolt's magic.

In the summer of July, the appearance of a hot balloon ice cream salesman and the troubles of a circus by the seashore give Winterbolt the means to destroy Santa — by trapping Rudolph and Frosty's family in a no-win situation far from Santa's territory, where only Winterbolt's magic can keep the Frosty family from melting in the July sun!

This special marked the final appearance of these versions of the lead characters under the original Rankin-Bass Productions, but later (non-stop motion) specials with the same character designs would follow decades later, like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys, The Legend of Frosty the Snowman, and A Miser Brothers Christmas. This special also marked the final time Billie Mae Richards (Rudolph) and Jackie Vernon (Frosty) voiced both characters. A modified and softened version of Jack Frost starred in his own eponymous Rankin-Bass special a few months later.

Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July provides examples of:

  • Babies Ever After: Frosty and Crystal had two snowchildren, Milly and Chilly, before the movie starts.
  • Beard of Evil: Winterbolt has a long, white beard to emphasize his evil nature.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Winterbolt, Sam Spangles, and Scratcher share the role of the Big Bad, with Winterbolt being responsible for most of the danger in the plot.
  • Big Damn Heroes: At the end of the story, Rudolph and Officer Kelly help save Lilly's circus from being shut down by Sam Spangles. Later, Jack Frost of all characters arrives from South America to help bring Frosty and his family back to life.
  • Big Good: Lady Boreal of the Northern Lights.
  • Big "NO!": Winterbolt yells "No" when Rudolph regains his nose glow after taking back Frosty's hat and when Lilly uses her guns to destroy his scepter.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Winterbolt is no more, Sam Spangles is sent to jail for his misdeeds, the storm is finally over and Jack Frost revives the Frosty family. However, Rudolph has to go his separate ways with Frosty to stay in Lilly's circus (at least for now).
  • Blank White Eyes: Winterbolt displays these for a brief moment during his death scene where he turns into a tree.
  • Bond One-Liner: Lilly says "What an exit" after she destroys Winterbolt's scepter, causing him to turn into a tree.
  • Book Ends: The first song heard during Rudolph's introduction is "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer." The song also makes an appearance towards the end of the special when Rudolph joins the circus.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Doing an evil deed causes Rudolph to lose his ability to glow his nose. He regains it when he retrieves Frosty's hat from Winterbolt.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": The amulets given by Winterbolt are four Fs forming a snowflake. They stand for "Final Firework Fades on the Fourth."
  • BSoD Song:
    • "No Bed of Roses", sung by Rudolph after he loses his nose glow.
    • Frosty has one too, "Now and Then", before he willingly sacrifices his magic hat to Winterbolt, but not before thinking of Crystal one last time.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Knowing that Lady Boreal doesn't frighten him, Winterbolt tries to freeze her with his scepter at the beginning of the film, but she deflects it and puts him into a deep sleep for many years.
  • But Thou Must!: Once the main fuse for the fireworks is lit, they will continuously go off and cannot be stopped, even if a downpour fell on them.
  • Call-Back:
    • Several to Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town: Santa refers to his elves as the Kringles, and near the beginning he reminisces about coming to the North Pole to build his toys where no one could stop him. Later, he and Mrs. Claus also reminisce about his giving her a china doll on the day they met. And the magic feed corn that gave Santa's reindeer their ability to fly reappears too; first when Winterbolt gives some to Scratcher, and in the end when Santa gives it to all the circus animals to create a flying parade.
    • After Lady Boreal gives Rudolph's nose its magical glow and then vanishes, his father Donner comes home to see his newborn son and declares "We'll name him Rudolph!" – effectively ending the flashback just where Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) starts.
    • Even though Frosty has no trouble counting to a hundred here, he reminisces about the days when he could only count to four, recalling the Running Gag of his inability to count in Frosty the Snowman and Frosty's Winter Wonderland.
    • Winterbolt says "You don't frighten me" during her encounter with Lady Boreal. He says the quote again during his final battle with Rudolph.
    • When Frosty, Crystal and their kids melt near the end, Laine is discovered kneeling and crying over their puddles just like Karen did over Frosty's puddle in Frosty the Snowman.
  • The Cameo: Clarice from the original 1964 special makes two non-speaking cameo appearances in the film. During the "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" number, she is spotted befriending Rudolph and is later seen as a signed autograph inside Rudolph's dressing room during the "No Bed of Roses" musical number. Also, a picture of Father Time from Rudolph's Shiny New Year can be seen in Rudolph's dressing room. In another flashback, the Snow-Parson from Frosty's Winter Wonderland can also be seen marrying Frosty and Crystal.
  • Celestial Deadline: The amulets worn by Frosty and his family lose their magic when the last firework goes out.
  • Character Narrator: Santa Claus provides the narration for this special.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Lilly, whom, at first glance, seems like a major character who only serves as the owner and ringmaster of the circus...
  • Christmas in July: Appropriately enough, the special is set during a circus event in July.
  • Cold Iron: Lilly defeats Winterbolt by hurling her guns at his scepter; she remarks "the guns are made of iron!", suggesting that this trope is in effect, as iron is one of the only lethal weapons against The Fair Folk of any kind.
  • Commonality Connection: Rudolph and Frosty's friendship seems to be born of being "misfits". "Us misfits have to stick together!"
  • Continuity Cavalcade: References to past specials are made, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, Frosty's Winter Wonderland, and Rudolph's Shiny New Year.
  • Death Song: Not technically death, but before Frosty gives up his magic hat to Winterbolt thus being reduced to his lifeless form, he sings "Now and Then" as he hopes his family, Crystal especially, will keep him in their hearts and hopes they'll meet again someday.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Now that Frosty has lived longer and is less of a wide-eyed innocent than in his original special, his snarkier side stands out more. Especially when it comes to the danger of melting:
    Frosty: Okay, but I got a feeling tonight there's gonna be a real wet act and it won't be the seals.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Frosty crosses this just after Rudolph returns from getting tricked by Scratcher, believing Santa won't come to pick them up before the amulets lose their power.
  • Digital Destruction: The 2004 DVD release has its animation and audio out of sync by one half of a second.
  • Disney Death: Frosty gets two, with Crystal, Milly and Chilly sharing the second. First he sacrifices his magic hat to Winterbolt, and later he and his family all melt when Winterbolt's magic is destroyed.
  • Disappeared Dad: Laine Lorraine has only her mother, Lilly; her father is never mentioned.
  • Dramatic Irony: Rudolph's Red Nose got him ridiculed by the other reindeer. But when he loses it, he ends up an outcast again by losing what made him famous.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Rudolph appears disturbed by Winterbolt's Family-Unfriendly Death.
  • Evil Counterpart: Scratcher the reindeer, who was kicked out of Santa's workshop for stealing toys and candy canes. Winterbolt specifically asked his Genie to find a reindeer who was everything Rudolph wasn't.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Paul Frees' performance as Winterbolt is so hammy, you'll forget you're supposed to be scared of this guy.
  • Evil Overlooker: On the DVD cover above, Winterbolt is glaring down at Rudolph, Frosty and Crystal.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Winterbolt has a powerful and deep voice befitting for a villain as a result of him being voiced by Paul Frees.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Rudolph hits this when talking about No Ontological Inertia:
    Rudolph: "If Winterbolt's powers are gone, that means those amulets are no good either... *gasps* Frosty! Crystal!"
  • Faux Affably Evil: When Winterbolt meets Rudolph and Frosty, he's cordial and polite. So is he when he tricks Rudolph into letting his nose go out and make Frosty's magic amulets last longer.
  • Four Is Death: The amulets Winterbolt gives Frosty and his family have 4 Fs on them, meaning their power will last until "the final firework fades on the fourth".
  • Friend-or-Idol Decision: In order to make the Frosty family's magic amulets last longer, Rudolph has to take the blame for the stolen suitcase and let his nose light go out as a result. Willingly, he takes the blame.
    Rudolph: "What's more important? A silly old red-nose? Or the lives of my best friend and his family?
  • Hats Off to the Dead: When Frosty's family and the circus performers are mourning Frosty's transformation back into an ordinary snowman, Lilly holds her cowgirl hat to her chest.
  • Happily Married: Frosty and Crystal are still as happy together as they were in Frosty's Winter Wonderland, while Santa and Mrs. Claus are still as devoted as they were as young lovers in Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town. Both couples even sing love songs: Frosty and Crystal have "Everything I've Always Wanted'' (as well as Frosty's "Now and Then" when he thinks of Crystal just before what he thinks will be his death), while Santa sings "I See Rainbows" to Mrs. Claus.
  • Heroic BSoD: Rudolph goes through a brief one when Winterbolt douses his nose out and everyone turns their backs on Rudolph.
  • Honorary Uncle: Frosty's kids call Rudolph "Uncle Rudolph," and after they join the circus, they call Lilly "Aunt Lilly."
  • An Ice Person: Winterbolt can uses his scepter to freeze anything into ice.
  • I Choose to Stay: In the end, Rudolph decides to stay with Lilly and the circus until they're out of debt, which won't be for long.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Lilly and Milton look very much like their respective voice actors, Ethel Merman and Red Buttons.
  • Jerkass: Scratcher is implied to have been this even before Santa fired him, which has only made him more bitter.
  • Just Think of the Potential!: When Winterbolt learns of Frosty's magic hat, he decides to get it so he can use it to build an army of animate snowmen!
  • Karma Houdini: Despite helping Winterbolt in his plans, Scratcher faces no punishment. However, this is because he simply leaves with Winterbolt after the latter douses Rudolph's nose out.
  • Kissing Discretion Shot: One between Milton and Lanie, with thanks to Lily's cowboy hat.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Compared to villains of past specials — Bumble the Abominable Snowman from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), Professor Hinkle from Frosty the Snowman and the Burgermeister Meisterburger from Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town — Winterbolt stands out. He's got power, cunning, and the ruthlessness to use them!
  • Large Ham: Lilly Loraine, the circus owner, justified by her job as ringmaster. Played to the hilt by Ethel Merman.
  • Mr. Exposition: Winterbolt has a "Genie of the ice scepter", who acts more like a soothsayer and brings Winterbolt up to speed on elements of the Rankin-Bass universe we already know.
  • Never Say "Die": Winterbolt: "When the scepter dies... I go too!"
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Lilly uses her guns to destroy Winterbolt's scepter at the end of the film, but it only ends up causing Frosty and his family to melt again. Though in her defense, it was either destroy the staff or they all get killed by Winterbolt, and besides that, none of them knew about the side effect it would have until it was too late.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • Had Winterbolt not used his Snow Dragons to create that foggy storm on Christmas Eve, Rudolph would have never been chosen to guide Santa's sleigh and gained the respect of his peers.
    • After Winterbolt succeeds at dousing Rudolph's nose and breaking his spirit, he cons Frosty out of his magic hat. In doing so, he gives Rudolph the impetus to stand up and fight against the villain redeeming himself and reigniting his nose.
  • No Off Button: Lily's fireworks won't stop firing once they are lit. She even explains word per word.
    Lily: Once the main fuse is lit, they keep goin'! Even if a cloudburst poured down on top of 'em!
  • No Ontological Inertia: When Winterbolt is defeated, his magic is undone, resulting in all the snowmen temporarily melting.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • In the first half, Winterbolt briefly panics upon realizing he's about to be confronted by Lady Boreal. Seconds later, he has another one when Lady Boreal casts him into a deep sleep.
    • While chasing after Winterbolt, Rudolph gasps in shock upon encountering Winterbolt's snakes. Later, Winterbolt has a similar reaction when Rudolph retrieves Frosty's hat and regains his glow.
  • Origins Episode: Santa's monologue shows how Rudolph got his shiny red nose: Lady Boreal gave Rudolph the last bit of her magic before returning to the Northern Lights.
  • Painful Transformation: Winterbolt is clearly suffering as he is twisted into a tree.
  • Picture-Perfect Presentation: The transition to Milton's flashback of the circus being forced into debt right before his wedding with Lanie is accompanied by a zoom in on a poster of Lanie, which changes to her actually on the tightrope. The same scene, though reversed, is used again when returning to reality.
  • Power Incontinence: Averted now with Rudolph's nose glow. In Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) it glowed randomly whenever he felt strong emotion, and his inability to control it was part of his problem. But by the time of this special, he can make it glow on and off at will.
  • The Power of Hate: If Rudolph uses his nose glow for an evil purpose, he'll lose his power forever... or at least until he redeems himself.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Lilly assures Laine "Yeah, but the GUNS are made of IRON!" before destroying Winterbolt's scepter with her guns.
  • Properly Paranoid: Frosty does not want to take his family to the sea in July! He's not being mean, he just knows that they'll melt in the summer sun. He also spends most the special worried that Santa — who promised to take the family home before the magical amulets Winterbolt gave them run out- will not make it in time.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Scratcher was supposedly one of the young reindeer of Rudolph's generation, who was banished for stealing toys and candy around the same time that Rudolph joined Santa's team. Rudolph recognizes him right away when he shows up at the circus. But of course he never appeared in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964).
  • Retcon: A few of the flashbacks to the events of earlier Rankin/Bass specials show things happening slightly differently than they did in those specials. For example:
    • In the flashback to Rudolph's childhood, his false black nose falls off when Clarice kisses it. In Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), it falls off as Rudolph is happily roughhousing with his new (and soon to be ex-)friend Fireball.
    • The flashback to Crystal's creation has Frosty bring her to life with True Love's Kiss, when in Frosty's Winter Wonderland he did it by placing a bouquet of ice flowers in her hands.
    • The flashback to Santa and Mrs. Claus's wedding shows them getting married at a church, when in Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town they get married in the woods under the trees, because they're outlaws in hiding at the time.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • After realizing Winterbolt tricked him into robbing the wagon causing him to lose his nose glow, Rudolph is faced with a horrendous decision: Either take the heat for the robbery and allow the magic in the snow family's amulets last longer, or expose Winterbolt's scheme and get his nose glow back, but allow the snow family to melt. Rudolph is forced to go with the former lest he wants his friend to live.
    • Winterbolt tricks Frosty into thinking the only way to restore Rudolph's nose glow is to give up his magic hat, sacrificing his life.
  • Series Continuity Error: In Frosty's Winter Wonderland, Crystal's kiss brought Frosty back from his Disney Death, apparently giving him permanent life without the need for his magic hat. Here he once again needs his magic hat to stay alive.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: Winterbolt ruled the North Pole long before Santa arrived, using his magic scepter to freeze anyone who stood in his way.
  • Soul Jar: Winterbolt's scepter. Not only is it his main weapon, it also contains his life force. Once the scepter is destroyed by Lilly, he loses his powers and turns into a tree.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Lady Boreal is the one who granted Rudolph his shiny nose, which the reindeer is unaware of to this day. It's also implied that she's the one who arranges...
    • Big Ben the clock-whale from Rudolph's Shiny New Year ends up meeting Rudolph after he's lost his glow. Upon learning that Winterbolt is essentially holding Frosty's family hostage, he tells Rudolph to make things right as he's figured out a workaround, bring Jack Frost to keep the snow people cold.
  • Taking the Heat: To ensure the amulets' powers last indefinitely, Rudolph is forced to take the blame for the stolen money.
  • Throwing Your Gun at the Enemy: Lilly throws her guns at Winterbolt without firing them, as they only shoot blanks. The guns shatter his scepter (due to the scepter being made of ice, while the guns are made of iron, which is one of the few weaknesses all Western magical beings share), destroying the source of his powers, in a rare instance of this tactic not only working, but being the key to victory.
  • Transflormation: After his scepter is shattered, Winterbolt loses his powers and turns into a tree.
  • Triumphant Reprise:
    • Rudolph and Frosty sing "We're a Couple of Misfits" after the former is exonerated. Keep in mind this was at a time when the song had been replaced in the original Rudolph by "Fame & Fortune", only to be put back in at a later date, so it's more of a case of Refitted for Sequel.
    • The finale is a rendition of the original "Rudolph" song, sung by Lilly as Rudolph leads the flying circus parade.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Lilly isn't ugly, but she is a chubby lookalike of her voice actress, Ethel Merman. Her daughter Laine is a beautiful, svelte tightrope walker.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The crux of Winterbolt's scheme; Rudolph's nose will stop glowing if he uses it to commit an evil deed, so Winterbolt conspires to trick Rudolph into doing just that.
  • Usurping Santa: Winterbolt is planning to overthrow Santa as ruler of the North Pole after his awakening.
  • A Wizard Did It: Both the "Foggy Christmas Eve" and Rudolph's shiny nose are retconned into having supernatural origins.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Or in this case, when the last firework goes off. The magic spell Winterbolt cast to allow the Frosty family to stay solid in the July sun wears off when the last of the Fourth Of July fireworks explodes. When it looks like Santa won't make it in time, Frosty tries a Loophole Abuse by preventing the fireworks from starting, but he's too late.
    Frosty: (Seeing the last firework on display) That's my number, alright. And when my number goes up, my number is up.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Lady Boreal's words of encouragement to Rudolph over the course of the film.
  • You Don't Look Like You: In the flashbacks to Santa and Mrs. Claus's youth, the latter is a blonde instead of the redhead she was in Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town.


Video Example(s):


No Bed of Roses

After taking the blame for the stolen money and losing his nose glow, Rudolph becomes depressed and worries he won't be famous anymore.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / BSODSong

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