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Western Animation / Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1948)

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"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is a 1948 animated short film produced and directed by Max Fleischer. The short was also produced by The Jam Handy Organization which was based in Detroit.

No, this short does not include Yukon Cornelius or an elf that wants to be a dentist. It predates the iconic Rankin-Bass television special by 16 years, and is a direct adaptation of the original 1939 story/poem by Robert L. May. Rudolph is still a misfit reindeer with a shiny red nose that All of the Other Reindeer laugh at. In this version Santa takes the sleigh up despite the storm, but the poor visibility causes him to nearly hit a plane. Santa makes an emergency landing, at Rudolph's house.


"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" provides examples of:

  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Rudolph borrows Santa's catchphrase "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!" as a short speech to the other reindeer on Christmas morning after helping Santa's Christmas eve journey.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: After Santa congratulates Rudolph on Christmas morning. Rudolph then wishes everyone a Merry Christmas while looking at the audience.
  • Determinator: Before they even find Rudolph, Santa and his reindeer do an action film level effort to get at least some of the presents delivered on time.
  • Funny Animal: In this rendition, Santa apparently gives presents to animal children as well. There's even a village for both reindeer and bunnies. This is based on the original short story, where Rudolph is likewise shown to live in a human-like house in a human-like village, and even puts up a human stocking for Santa. This aspect is kept in the 1954 sequel story Rudolph Shines Again.
    Mike Nelson: I guess Santa never stopped and wondered why human children no longer exist.
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  • Good Parents: Rudolph's mother is very kind to him.
  • Humanoid Female Animal: Rudolph's mother in the 1948 short is much more anthropomorphic than the male reindeer (who are already somewhat more anthropomorphic than the Rankin-Bass adaptation). The male reindeer, including Rudolph, are usually quadrupedal, but sometimes walk on two legs when they want to use their hooves as hands; Rudolph's Mother, on the other hand, always walks on two legs, has a much more humanoid body shape (most notably, her arms and legs), and is the only one who wears clothes.
    Kevin Murphy: I'm so confused by Mrs. Rudolph.
  • Invisible Parents: Rudolph's father is never seen, but he's mentioned in the note Rudolph leaves for his parents.
  • Momma's Boy: Rudolph gets teased for being this as well as for his nose. Makes some sense since his mother is the only reindeer shown to be kind to Rudolph at first.
    Reindeer: Go on home, red nose. Your mama's calling you.
    Bill Corbett: Bambi would soon come to regret the yo mama jokes.
  • Public Domain: While the character and song haven't entered such, this short has. This led to Disney using it in some of their Christmas features, as well as DC comics using the Rudolph design for some annuals.
  • The Quiet One: While Rudolph is able to talk, he's mostly very quiet due to his shyness. Compared to the reindeer and Santa, Rudolph only has two lines of dialogue in the entire short (Rudolph writing a letter to his parents, and wishing the viewer a Merry Christmas).
  • Re-Cut: The cartoon was made before the 1949 Johnny Marks song, though it was edited and reissued in 1951 with a rendition in the opening and closing credits.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Just like the original story, most of the dialogue for the short is done in rhyming verse.
  • Shrinking Violet: Rudolph throughout the short is notably very shy, awkward, and quiet. At the very end of the short, he bashfully wishes the viewers "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night".
  • Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: Lands between being a type 4 (Near Identical Adaptation) and a type 5 (Identical Adaptation), and even then its almost a 5. Unlike the more famous Rankin-Bass special, this cartoon adaptation follows the original Robert L. May story almost to the letter, with only minor changes being made. The designs are also more closely based on that of the book's illustrations.
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: After receiving a medal for his duties, Rudolph's whole body blushes as bright red as his nose.
    Kevin Murphy: That's right, fur can blush. Don't question it.
  • Truer to the Text: Compared to the Rankin/Bass special, this short is a direct adaptation of the original story with dialogue and sequences played completely straight. Even locations seen in the short are based on Denver Gillen's original illustrations.


Video Example(s):


All Of The Other Reindeer (Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer 1948)

All of the other reindeer
Used to laugh and call him names
They never let poor Rudolph
Join in any reindeer games!

How well does it match the trope?

4.83 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / AllOfTheOtherReindeer

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