The Little Drummer Boy (TV Movie 1968) Poster

(1968 TV Movie)

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Eric-62-26 December 1999
Today, for the first time in twenty years I sat down and watched five Rankin-Bass Christmas specials from the 60s and 70s that I had only dim memories of. Of the five, "The Little Drummer Boy" came away the best. While the Rudolph and Frosty specials are the only ones of this era that still endure on network TV today and provided me with a smile or two, this one actually reduced me to tears because in its tale of Aaron the drummer boy, we learn the story of what Christmas is really all about: The birth of Christ and how through Christ our feelings of hate and anger can be purged by the power of His love for all of us.

This is one Christmas special that deserves to be seen again and again.
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utgard1423 December 2013
Christmas special based on the song of the same name. Narrated by the great Greer Garson, it tells the story of an orphan boy named Aaron. Aaron has had a tough life and is resentful towards humanity. His only friends are animals and his only joy in life comes from playing his drum. Through a series of events he finds himself at the birth of baby Jesus. As in the song, he has no gift for the baby so he plays his drum instead. I love Rankin/Bass Christmas specials. The stop-motion animation, great voice work, memorable music, and beautiful stories make them timeless classics that I can watch year after year. The Little Drummer Boy is a moving, sincere story and I would recommend everybody check it out.
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Delightfully Entertaning
jjkaul10 January 2002
Each year as the Christmas season unfolds I look forward to the showing of The Little Drummer Boy. Aaron, along with his drumming of the movie's title music always brings tears to my eyes, but they are happy tears because of the love and compassion that fills this little child. It is a wonderful story that I believe everyone should do themselves a favor and watch at least once. I find myself humming the title song for days after seeing the film.
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A Christmas "Animagic" Classic For The Ages...
jake j28 June 2002
Although less highly regarded by many than the masterful "animagic" hour of "Rudolph", this 27-minute gem throbs with the joy and heartache of living that is timelessly captured by Rankin/Bass and the brilliant detail of the Dentsu Company miniature sets and artistic direction (so often overlooked in these productions). A hearty and rich score, especially the underscoring of the tragic death of the boy's parents, is unforgettable. Ferrer, Frees, and Eccles are delightful and the often cloying "Miss" Greer Garson delivers the narration with a gentle stroke that is soothing and sincere. The nativity scene is overwhelmingly moving and the film ends on a perfect note. There was a pointless and meandering sequel years later,"Little Drummer Boy-Book II" which is best left unopened- a lifeless and repetitive tale justly obscure. The original, common on video but shown infrequently now during the Christmas season, showcases that deep color film tone that NBC employed so effectively in the mid-60's, which today adds to the nostalgia. Children's prime-time specials once heralded a great era in the success of the medium. All that remains are these video souvenirs.

****out of ****
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Dark and heavy Christmas special
SnoopyStyle23 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Aaron doesn't like people and plays his drum for his animal friends Samson the donkey, Babba the sheep and Joshua the Camel. Bandits killed his parents and burned down their home. Ben Haramad sees him playing his drum and kidnaps him. In Jerusalem, Aaron gets angry at the townfolks and the entire troupe has to run away. Out in the desert, they come upon the caravan of Three Wise Kings. The Kings aren't interested in Ben or Aaron's performance. The caravan needs a camel and Ben sells Joshua to them despite Aaron's protest. Ben is gold drunk and lets Aaron with Samson and Babba go. They follow the star hoping to catch up to Joshua. In Bethlehem, Babba is run over by a Roman chariot. Aaron brings Babba to be healed by the Kings but only the King of Kings can help him. Aaron has no gift to bring that's fit to give the King. So he plays his drum and Babba is healed.

This is one of the heaviest kids' Christmas specials. The dark material really works with the Bible's more serious nature. The final turn is heart wrenching and quite compelling. Not every Christmas special has to be kiddie fare. The stop motion is very rudimentary and has an old time charm about it.
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Story of the true meaning of Christ(mas)
sflagal19 December 2005
I hadn't seen this in years and watched it recently since I now have the Christmas DVD collection. It never occurred to me until now, as an adult, that this brings out the true meaning of Christmas. It is such a simple story yet touched me in a way no other 'Christmas special' (as others are so loosely called) has. It puts Christ back into Christmas and as far as I'm concerned, and in that sense, it's the best special ever created. As an added bonus, the choir music is angelic and very touching. It is a shame that in this day and age, nothing comes close to stories like these any more. Our country is slowly and methodically being turned into a God-less society and it's quite apparent in the media. I hope many of us will take a stand again and return to the simple morals and values that were once mainstream.
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Wow Strong Images Prevail in this Special
Christmas-Reviewer20 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
An orphan drummer boy who hated humanity finds his life changed forever when he meets three wise men on route to Bethlehem.

This film is very good but small children might be frightened of the death of the Aaron's parents. There is also the kidnapping scene of overwhelming images of violence (The parents are killed and the home is burned down to the ground)

Aaron is also forced into labor and says several times that "He hates people".

What I said above is just a parental warning but that doesn't mean this isn't a good in fact it is EXCELLENT.

This a basically a crash course about the birth of Jesus and the power of forgiving and moving forward.

Please watch it with your small children. They might need a little comforting.
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Still Great Holiday Classic
kbone32-120 December 2006
This holiday classic is still refreshing to see even after almost 40 years. The story line is of course about the little drummer boy who ends up coming to grips with his hatred of people. In the end he has to play his drum for the baby Jesus and even though he is certainly no Buddy Rich it does come from the heart which, as we know from years of watching these type of films is what really counts and in the end the little drummer boy receives a change of heart.It's pretty much the same holiday format that for some reason one can never grow tired of no matter how many times we watch it or different forms it comes in...Certainly a great one to bring the kids up on.
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The True Message
Mac6016 December 1999
I remember seeing this for the first time in the late 60s when I was a child. A timeless message that I still enjoy 31 years later. It's a shame that the true message of Christmas has been lost on a generation and this, and other, religious Christmas programming can only be found on the "family" stations. Time was, this was shown on the networks.
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One of the best programs to ever come from the studios of Rankin-Bass
raysond2 December 2010
Originally aired as a half-hour special,in full color for NBC-TV on December 19,1968,the holiday special "The Little Drummer Boy" was an example of the "Animagic" that was timelessly captured by Rankin-Bass through the use of its brilliant storytelling along with its miniature settings and artistic direction under the supervision and guidance of its producers Arthur Rankin,Jr. and Jules Bass. Narrated by the great Greer Garson,"The Little Drummer Boy" was an exceptional tale,set in ancient times(the story takes place in Isreal),the half-hour special tells the story of a little boy named Aaron,a six-year-old orphaned drummer boy,along with his drum,and his three animal friends-a lamb, a camel,and a donkey-learned the lesson of love and the true meaning of the holy season by journeying with the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem to witness the birth of the Christ child. In 1968,the "Teachers Guide to Television" listed this holiday special as a "speciality selected program of educational value" prior to its network premiere for NBC.

Through the uses of "Animagic",with the backing of the Vienna Boys Choir with musical direction by Rankin-Bass favorite Maury Laws,this was one of the best of the holiday specials that was produced by the studio. Featuring the voice talents of Jose Ferrer, Teddy Eccles, along with the talents of Paul Frees,this was one of the joyous specials that was both entertaining and educational. However,NBC rebroadcast this special presentation several times from December 18, 1969 until December 23, 1980 on a annual basis. It has been showed on cable for the FOX Family Channel(aka The ABC Family Channel,aka The Family Channel and the former Christian Broadcasting Network),and other networks.
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A beautiful and poignant gem with a great message
TheLittleSongbird20 December 2009
The Little Drummer Boy is a very beautiful and poignant gem from Rankin'/Bass, and it has a great message and conveys so wonderfully the true meaning of Christmas. For me, while I adore this, I don't think it is quite as good as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, two very timeless classics. But this is very overlooked and unjustly, because it is probably the most moving of the Rankin'/Bass Christmas specials. With very detailed miniature sets and art direction, it is a delight to look at, and the music is truly stunning as well, especially with the haunting sound of the Vienna Boys Choir singing the title song. The death of Aaron's parents is truly unforgettable, and is a real tear jerker. And the voice acting is top notch, Jose Ferrer is brilliant as Ben and Paul Frees and June Foray are delightful as Aaron's parents, and Aaron himself is voiced with real sensitivity by Ted Eccles. Special mention though has to go with Greer Garson, who was perfect as Our Story Teller speaking with such gentleness and sincerity that is a rarity nowadays. All in all, beautiful. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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What a great idea!
JR54115 October 2006
Hey, Lets say we have a roving band of dangerous nomads roaming the desert, brutally murdering people, stealing all of their possessions and leaving their young son to fend for himself in a cruel world. Perfect recipe for a Christmas Special. This one didn't stay as a network staple very long as it was not the happy nice nice special that Rudolph and Charlie Brown were .

To Be honest I have liked this since I was a kid. It wasn't as good as the other Rankin/Bass specials but it was the only one of them that really has anything to do with the Jesus. Lot of emotion at the end. You end up glad that you watched it.
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Rankin/Bass At Their Very Best And Most Meaningful
johnstonjames7 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Tim Burton can go chase a goose. Rankin/Bass may be somewhat dated but they are still the crown kings of stop motion and Christmas entertainment.

people never want to admit that 'Nightmare Before Christmas' is very funny but always overrated by fans who seem to refuse to look any further into stop motion animation or acknowledge Rankin/Bass or Lou Bunin who started it all.

i love Rankin/Bass and this is the one that stands out as my favorite. i love the whole "true meaning" message and i can very easily relate to the drummer boy's hostility of the world and mistrust of people.

i don't know why it seems so hard to get a perfect pristine copy of this show along the quality of the other Rankin/Bass entertainments. i couldn't even believe this was credited as being restored. it looked pretty washed out and age worn when compared with the restoration of say, 'Rudolph'.

oh well, wasn't the message of this that he had no fine gift to lay before a king? i guess some fans will have to put up with inferior restoration of this till someone comes to their senses and rescues this charming and poignant little Christmas classic.
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A Christmas Classic
rebeljenn16 January 2006
'The Little Drummer Boy' is the 1968 classic claymation about a little boy who travels with his pet lamb, donkey and camel. His greatest gift is his drum, which was given to him by his parents before they were murdered, and the little boy has a lot of anger that he has to learn to conquer, and he witnesses a magical event. This is a classic and touching Christmas story that I like to watch every Christmas. It's narrated well, and although the technique is a little bit dated, I still think this film stands the test of time. It's got a nice little, moral story, and it is true to life: bad things happen to good people, but we must smile and get through life the best we can and learn to forgive. Don't forget to watch this next Christmas.
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Kirpianuscus22 December 2019
It reminds the meaning of Christmas. The only meaning and it does that in splendid - touching manner. The story of Aaron is the story of its public, reminding the cure for angry, frustrations, pain. And the story of the little drummer is impeccable crafted. A sort of letter from far land, from us, to us . Because it is inspired animation, lovely story and remember of the help who only a King can do it. A film like an refuge , profound useful to see it, near the Christmas, for prepaire the feast of Birth of the Saviour in your heart, with care, love and mercyful consideration.
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Timeless classic
onionhead1013 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
There are other productions in the Rankin-Bass library that may be more endearing (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, foremost probably), but this one from 1968 has the most emotional punch, delivers the most goods in telling what Christmas is really about. Aaron, the titular drummer, wanders about the desert with a hate filled heart until circumstances guide him to the stable in Bethlehem, where lies in a manger the embodiment of love and hope. Ted Eccles voices Aaron, Jose Ferrer is Ben Haramed, June Foray and the eternal RB player Paul Frees are on hand and are all at the top of their game; and Greer Garson's narration is on-spot. The climax in Bethlehem is a heart-wrencher. This is the only animated film that can reduce me to tears. Santa? Rudolph? George Bailey? No sign of 'em--this is what Christmas is all about.
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Pa rum pum pum pum
Horst_In_Translation25 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Rankin/Bass created this 25-minute animated short-film for the holiday season 45 years ago. It features the voices from two former Academy-Award winners Greer Garson and José Ferrer. Unfortunately, as good as an actress Garson may be, I didn't think her voice is particularly suited for narration, which is even a bigger pity as female narrators were an even rarer than these days. Ferrer, on the other hand did a great job in voicing Ben Haramed, easily the best performance from the film. The main character was voiced by Ted Eccles, which I felt didn't really fit the bell at all. His loud and often over-the-top voice-acting was downright annoying at times. It did not so much show the anger of his character than it hurt the soothing effect of this motion picture coming mainly from the animation style and the music. Also, I personally felt, it didn't work at all with the gentle, even if disappointed, way his animated character looked physically.

What i did like a lot, however, was the animation. critics may say there was more defined animation 25 years earlier during the days of World War II already, but I believe it was just different. The style fits the tone of the film very well and I can't deny the way they made the donkey and sheep, I wanted to gently touch their fur from start to finish. I've never been too interested in the story of the little drummer boy and this short film surely did not cause a 180°-turn, but I believe, despite its flaws, it can still make for a decent watch, especially during the holiday season, mainly for Ferrer's excellent work and the music. The Vienna Boys Choir delivers a wonderful performance of the popular drummer boy song.
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The Little Drummer Boy (1968)
SnakesOnAnAfricanPlain14 December 2011
Even if you're not into all that Jesus malarkey, you have to at least respect the story for giving us such a wonderful time of year. The Little Drummer Boy focuses on a boy filled with hate, and a man filled with greed. Their stories intertwine until they eventually cross paths with the song of God. Loved the songs and the animation has that old-fashioned quality that just doesn't date (if that makes any sense). The voice-work varied, sometimes being annoyingly slimy. It's a sweet tale that captures the meaning of Christmas, without ramming the religious aspects down the viewers throat. This should be an enjoyable watch for all.
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divine mercy in a world without earthly justice
CineMage5 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers

I've always had mixed feelings about this borderline Christmas classic since I first saw it on television as a child.

The story with Aaron, the little drummer boy, and his slow coming to terms with his grief and his grief-born rage are well done for a children's program. Ted Eccles does the usual excellent voice acting as Aaron, and it's almost impossible not to love José Ferrer in any role, particularly ones in which he gets to play wily rascals such as Ben Haramed with such relish. Greer Garson makes a lovely storyteller.

However, the song lyrics are often perfunctory and unworthy of the simple but catchy tunes. One song focuses on "when the goose is flying high" as a metaphor for good times (???) while Aaron in his song about the inability of animals to smile directly contradicts his first appearance when he lovingly scolds one of his animal friends to smile even more enthusiastically than he is already smiling.

Still, the sequence in which Aaron greets "The Child" is touching, and the fact that both Ben Haramed and his flunky succeed in their selfish schemes with neither punishment nor redemption adds a realistic touch to the tale's overriding message that with the coming of Jesus, divine mercy has arrived in a world lacking in earthly justice and fairness.

I own a videotape of this special, and I watch it as part of my let's-be-kids-again Christmas celebrations with friends.
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gazzo-22 December 2000
I sometimes get a little uncomfortable with the way they stereotyped the Arab characters here-but still-it's quite a good productions, and yes, quite moving. Rankin Bass were the best at these sorts of things. I do applaud their bringing back the legends of the animals at the manger side.

I would give this *** outta ****.
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Timeless Classic
Michael_Elliott24 December 2011
Little Drummer Boy, The (1968)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Greer Garson narrates this Bass-Rankin stop-motion production telling the story of a troubled boy who follows three wise men to Bethlehem where his life is changed forever. Watching this film in 2011 it's quite obvious that something like this would never get made today, which is rather sad when you sit back and think about it. The one objectable thing is the way Arabs are shown but outside of this there's a terrific story being told here and there's no doubt that the message will shine loud and clear. With that said, thankfully the film never becomes too preachy to where you really don't care what the message is. The story itself is such a strong one and Bass and Rankin tell it in such a way that you'd have to be made of stone if you weren't touched at the end. The stop-motion effects are extremely effective here and especially the stuff towards the end when the little boy is asked to play the drums. The song is played throughout the film and it's so effective each time it comes up. Garson does a very good job reading the story and we get strong vocal work from Paul Frees, June Foray and Jose Ferrer.
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A heart-warming Christmas special from Rankin/Bass
ja_kitty_715 December 2007
I love this Christmas special from Rankin/Bass. It has excellent performances by the Vienna Boy's choir. I found the music angelic and very touching; not to mention the narration by Greer Garson. I do remember watching it TV, but they don't show it anymore. But I was lucky to bought it on DVD. The show is about a boy and his "magic" drum, who hated people because his parents were killed and farm destroyed by bandits, and how he learned to love.

Another thing that I love about Rankin/Bass is the memorable characters (like Aaron and his animal pals) and music too; I love the song "Why can't the Animals smile?" I found it was sad, when little Bubba the lamb got hit by a Roman chariot, until Aaron played his drum for the baby Jesus: the gift of song. It also that thought him a lesson about love andgenerosity.
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the little drummer boy
lilpernel4417 November 2006
I have watched this movie since childhood. I would really like to know if it is airing on TV in 2006. I also love the story it tells regarding the birth of Christ. My son is 26 years old and should be having children soon, I would love for them to be able to enjoy some of the classic holiday specials I enjoyed as a young child. My son is also an musical artist and some of the music in this particular special he could probably appreciate for his type of music. He is an hip hop artist that writes his own lyrics and is currently working on a Christmas demo, The Little Drummer Boy is has a classics song and he could probably incorporate some of that music on to his demo. Anyway, if it is airing on network television this year, would someone please let me know?
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All Praise be to Allah the Almighty
mrdonleone25 December 2019
Go see this movie with your Muslim family on Christmas Eve and see how they will react: all excited by the Arab portrayals, but none of them will understand the story of the star or Jesus Christ. That's the only sad thing about the movie next to the outdated animatronics of course... Mashallah, Allahu Akbar!
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