Sunday, December 14, 2014

Going Down In History/Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer Part 3

This is part of a multi-part post:Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

Then all the reindeer loved him
As they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,
You'll go down in history!
(Wikipedia)
Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer has had a lot of success over the years. From his introduction in Christmas catalog, to his hit song, to his TV special and all kinds of  commercial endorsements, it just seemed like nothing Rudolph touched could ever fail. Well even Rudolph has at least one misstep along the way of an other wise wildly successful life.

new version of  Rudolph's life story was made n 1998. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer: The Movie was the first release from Home Video maker GoodTime Entertainment. With a cast featuring John Goodman, Eric Idle, Whoopi Goldberg, Debbie Reynolds, Richard Simmons, Bob Newhart it had gotten the rights for the Rudolph character and given  Rudolph's track record it seemed a no lose proposition,

Naturally, the had to come up with a new version of the story. And of course some new Characters were introduced. Here is a synopsis of the plot from Wikipedia:
A baby reindeer which his parents, Blitzen and his wife, Mitzi name Rudolph is born with an abnormally red, shiny nose. Blitzen starts to worry that Rudolph will be made fun of because of this, while Mitzi is more optimistic. Later, they meet up with Rudolph's three uncles- Dasher, Comet and Cupid -and introduce Rudolph to them. Cupid tickles Rudolph's chin and tummy until his nose starts glowing, which draws attention. Blitzen's worries then come true with the secret of their son's nose now revealed to Comet, Cupid, Dasher and the rest of the residents of the North Pole. 
Meanwhile, two of Santa's elves Doggle and Boone cross the bridge of the wicked Ice Queen, Stormella, to deliver mail and accidentally crash into and destroy several ice statues that belong to her. When Stormella finds out, she closes her ice bridge to the public as punishment, and if anybody dares to cross it, she threatens to create a blizzard so strong it will stop Santa from delivering presents to children around the world. 
A year later, Rudolph is grown a little bit older and is sent to school, where he is ridiculed by his mean and arrogant cousin, Arrow, and the other students with the exception of Zoey, a young doe that shows affection for him and Rudolph reciprocates this. Rudolph eventually runs away from school because of all the teasing and meets Santa, who accepts him despite his nose and treats him with kindness. Shortly after, on Christmas Eve, after Santa has flown away for his annual travel around the world, Rudolph winds up running into Zoey but Arrow, who also has feelings for the doe, disrupts their romantic moment beneath the mistletoe and has Zoey leave with him instead, which she reluctantly does. But as she leaves, she smiles over at Rudolph, making him realize that she likes him. 
Years later, Rudolph has reached adolescence and is about to take part in the Junior Reindeer Games. Zoey gives her pendant to Rudolph to bring him good fortune, much to the chagrin of Arrow, who is now in a relationship with Zoey. During the event known as The Sleigh Race, Arrow cheats so he may be chosen to become a Flyer (one of the reindeer who pulls Santa Claus's sleigh), so he crashes into the other competitors and then trash talks Rudolph, making his nose gleam and blind Arrow. Rudolph wins the race, but is disqualified by the referee because his glowing nose is considered cheating and makes Arrow winner by default. The disqualification of Rudolph infuriates both Blitzen and Zoey, who confronts Arrow for cheating and ends their relationship. 
Rudolph overhears Blitzen arguing with the referee that his son's nose was an "accident", attempting to persuade him that Rudolph couldn't have controlled his nose's glow and avoided blinding Arrow. But Rudolph misinterprets it to believe that his father is ashamed of him, and decides to run away. Zoey is devastated upon learning that Rudolph ran away from home, so she runs off in search of him and even deliberately crosses the forbidden bridge of Stormella, who imprisons her in an icy prison cell. 
Meanwhile, Rudolph befriends an Arctic fox named Slyly and a polar bear named Leonard. He also meets the Sprites of the Northern Lights- a group of singing, colorfully garbed sprites who fly around the North Pole. They tell Rudolph that he must rescue the kidnapped Zoey. They instruct him how to properly use his nose, and Rudolph, Leonard and Slyly journey to Stormella's castle to free Zoey. Stormella fulfills her vow and unleashes a humongous blizzard upon the North Pole using her magical powers. However, Slyly stays behind while Rudolph and Leonard enter the forbidden castle. 
Rudolph and Leonard make it inside her castle, but soon find themselves locked up in ice prisons of their own. After the Ice Queen goes to sleep, Slyly sneaks into her bedroom and retrieves the key to his friends' prisons. However, Stormella wakes up and sends her pack of wolves after Rudolph and his friends, cornering them on a cliff. When she threatens to freeze Zoey, Rudolph uses his nose to blind Stormella, sending her toppling off of the cliff, hanging on for dear life. Rudolph saves Stormella's life by allowing her to grab on to his budding antlers and pulls her back up on the cliff, and the grateful Stormella offers to grant him a wish. Much to the Ice Queen's dismay, Rudolph wishes that Stormella would turn from evil to kindhearted. 
Stormella does indeed have a change of heart but the snowstorm that she created is unstoppable. Boone and Doggle, who were sent by Santa to search for Rudolph and Zoey, bring the entire group back to Santa's Village. However, because of the blizzard, Santa is unable to carry out his flight this year but, when he catches a glimpse of Rudolph's nose, Santa asks him to lead his team and once Rudolph agrees, he is given a Medal of Valor (which all Flyers wear). Rudolph guides Santa's sleigh through the storm, and receives a hero's welcome when he returns and it turns out to be a merry Christmas after all.
For once Rudolph didn't pay off. The film was a significant box office flop only making 1/64th of its production budget back. In my opinion this movie failed in part due to it featuring some pretty over exposed talent. Also,  it seems the Ranking/Bass version of the character are what people wanted to see. That Rudolph story had become set in the public imagination and they were not much interested in a new plot line.



Rudolph Is Everywhere

Rudolph does have a lot of place in the world of modern Christmas as the images show. He makes a great mascot and the addition of antlers and a red nose makes a popular fun costume for casual holiday parties.The red nose can be found everywhere at Christmas-time if you keep you eyes peeled!

            (Flickr User Anthony Cramp/CC)

(Flickr User F_A/CC)
(Flickr User Meaghan O'Malley/CC)
(Flickr User Laurence Simon (Crap Mariner)/CC)

(Flickr User istolethetv/CC)
(Flickr User Ben Sutherland/CC)
(Flickr User Mike Licht/CC)
(Flickr User Fort Bragg/CC)
(Flickr User Steve/CC)

Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer was also also skewered on Saturday Night Live'TV Funhouse segment.


Bonus Portland Connection

Portland, OR has a certain special relationship to Rudolph that I have to acknowledge as citizen of Portlandia. You see, Portland is divided into a grid of streets. The center of that grid is the Burnside Bridge with streets marks as either NE, NW, SE or SW depending on their relationship to the intersection of Burnside Blvd and the Willamette River. Since 1940 the Northwest corner of that intersection has had a neon sign on the roof of one of the Old Town buildings. The sign faces Southeast and has become a sort of icon for the city.

It is a large neon sign in the shape of the shape of the state of Oregon. Originally owned by the White Satin Sugar Co. the sign featured an animation of the state being filled with sugar, its outline slowly filling in with with lights surrounding the company's logo.

In 1959 a change was made that would propel that sign into the story of Rudolph. The sign's owners changed hands as the sign was purchased by Portland based White Stag Sporting goods, then a leading maker of women's swimwear. The companies logo was a leaping white stag which was included a the top center of the sign above the companies name. When Christmas came around, someone thought of added a red light bulb to the nose of the stag. A Portland Christmas tradition was born.

Rudolph/White Stag Sportswear (Wikipedia)
For years every December the Stag would gain its Red Nose. White Stag would leave the building below the sign in 1973, but continued to lease the roof space to keep the sign up for advertising purposes. By 1977, the sign had become so beloved by Portlanders that it was given designation as City of Portland Historic landmark.

In 1986 the famous sign faced a crisis, the White Stag Company pulled out of Oregon entirely and the sign was threatened to go dark. The owner of the building at the time, Bill Naito agreed to pay to light the sign over the holiday season, and work on faulty wiring was volunteered by Ramsey Signs.

The sign managed to stay lit until 1996 will Bill Naito passed away. The Made in Oregon Store was in the building and wanted to rework the sign with their branding. Because of its historical designation this needed special approval. In April of 1997 the Portland Historical landmark Commission approved the reworking in a 5-1 decision stating that its use had always been commercial and the change was in keeping with its historic status.

The sign was reworked with the lettering changed to reflect the Made in Oregon store, but the classic White Stag remained, ready to have his annual December red nose.

Made In Oregon (Wikipedia)
There was more to come for the sign however. In 2008, the University of Oregon had plans to move into the building that house the sign. They had proposed relettering the sign to read University of Oregon. Since the University itself was located about 100 miles away in Eugene, many in the city balked at having such an iconic Portland feature becoming tied to the main attraction of another Oregon city.

After a fair amount of wrangling back and forth between the city Historic Commission and the University, the University considered dismantling the sign. That way they could put up their own signage minus the commission's approval. Negotiations by the Portland City Council ultimately led to the approval of the purchase of the sign by the city in 2010.

With significant financial assistance from the property owner as well as Ramsay signs, which had long been associated with the sign, the city began to rework the sign yet again. The sign was relettered to simply read "Portland Oregon". Completing the job just in time for Christmas, the sign was lit for the first time under its latest lettering on November 26, 2010-complete with a red nose.

Portland Oregon Old Town (Wikipedia)

Playlist Additions
To close things out with Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer with an assortment of versions of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer that were not listed in the first post of this series. A warning: some of these can get fairly odd.While I was searching YouTube I also found an interesting Mash Up to share that I will use to close out the video playlist.

741.Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer December 22nd, 2004-Molloy's Irish Pub, Kansas City, MO Bob Walkenhorst 2:42
742.Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer Arthur Godfrey & His Friends Arthur Godfrey 2:24
743.Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer Christmas Guitar Doug Smith 3:49
744.Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer Mele Kalikimaka Arthur Lyman 1:22
745.Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Pretty Paper Willie Nelson 2:12
746.Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer Disney Season of Song The Christmas Brass 2:39
747.Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Switched on Santa! The Merriest Moog Synthesizer Plays Christmas Favourites Sy Mann 2:23
748.Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer FaLaLaLaLa.Com Adventures in Carols 2006 Tex Beneke, Ray Eberle And The Modernaires 2:31
749.Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer FaLaLaLaLa.Com Adventures in Carols 2005 The Fireside Singers 3:28
750.Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer 'Tis The Season For Los Strait... Los Straitjackets 2:18
751.Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Wild Xmas With the Bomarr Monk Vol. 2 Paska 1:05
752.Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Wild Xmas With Bomarr, Vol. 5 DS I Love You 1:52
753.Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Barenaked For The Holidays Barenaked Ladies 0:59


Signing Off And Coming Attractions

I hope you have enjoyed this look into Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Does your town have a Rudolph connection the way that Portland does? I'd love to hear about it in the comments. Merry Christmas everyone!

Next Week: Highway 101 in San DiegoCalifornia has led us to Old Town. We will look at Christmas in that State Park as well as holiday fun in other parts of San Diego.
Two Weeks: We'll take a look through the rear view mirror at 2014 and see where we have been and who we have met on Old Highway Notes.
Three Weeks: A return to Florida as we visit another Spring Training ballpark and more in Port St. Lucie, a city on the Interstate 95 corridor.


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Interstate 95: 123 Miles/1 State/68 Tracks/109 Videos/13 Posts

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