"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is a 1948 animated short film produced and directed by Max Fleischer.
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 was based off of the original 1939 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:
- 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.Mike Nelson: I guess Santa never stopped and wondered why human children no longer exist.
- 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.
- 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 quite due to his shyness.
- 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: 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.