Rankin/Bass 9 and 10: Leprechauns and Pinocchio


I’m afraid I’ve gotten way behind on my Rankin/Bass month so I will post a couple tonight to catch up.  This post will tackle 2 of the weaker specials- The Leprechauns’ Christmas Gold and Pinocchio’s Christmas.  Both were made in the 80s when the company was clearly running out of ideas and have little to nothing to do with Christmas.

Leprechauns’ Christmas Gold

Leprechaun's Christmas GoldI think this special got lost on the way to St Patrick’s Day.  It’s 25 minutes and has a few moments of charm but mostly its forgettable.

It is about a boy named Dinty Doyle who digs up a Christmas pine tree that unleashes the banshee Old Mag the Hag who wants the leprechaun Blarney Kilakilarney’s gold.

leprechauns2Art Carney has fun as Blarney Kilakilarney but the rest of the voices are nothing special and the songs are lame. Christmas in Killarney is good but not written for this special.

leprechauns4The story is similar to something you might see on a Ducktales or other Saturday morning cartoon.  Nothing too drab like Nestor or weird like Year Without a Santa Claus.
This one is a definite skip.

Pinocchio’s Christmas

pinocchio christmasMade in 1980 Pinocchio’s Christmas feels like one of those films that rip-off Disney films.  It has elements of the Disney classic but none of the magic.  We’ve got a cricket sidekick, Pinocchio as still a living marionette, a fox and a cat up to no good and a blue fairy.  I realize these elements are probably in the book but it still feels like a mediocre copy of the classic film.

PINOCCHIO'S CHRISTMAS,  (from left): Pinocchio, Lady Azura, Julietta, 1980. © Rankin/Bass

The animation isn’t half bad on this one with but they make the mistake of making it 49 minutes and the story and especially the music just isn’t there.  It’s also possibly less related to Christmas than Leprechauns’ Christmas.

Basically the story is Pinocchio wants to buy Gepetto a present for Christmas. The Fox and the Cat convince him to plant his money in the ground to grow a money tree.  He does and they take the money.  He then spends the rest of the movie trying to find a present for Gepetto and getting taken by various mean people.

rankinbass-holidayfavorites-04The songs are very lame with bland lyrics like one song about dancing called Dance.  Another lame song is ‘Love, the Perfect Gift for Christmas Day” (groan…).

The voice performances are a definite step down for Rankin/Bass- no big name performers. And the writing is very preachy like ‘it took a puppet boy to learn the true meaning of Christmas” and “my Christmas present is a promise that I will go to school and obey you and always be good”.

pinocchio2You can just tell they are reaching with both of these specials.  They aren’t funny, clever or well written.  The animation isn’t half bad but I think you can definitely skip both Leprechaun’s Christmas Gold and Pinocchio’s Christmas.   I’d say more but there really isn’t for either of these specials.  They feel like something that was made in a foreign country and not translated well- lame and bland and forgettable.

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