Jack Frost ushers in winter every year, but he is upset that he is unable to interact with humans, since they cannot see him. When he falls in love with the young peasant woman Elisa, he requests to be made human and his superior, Father Winter, who agrees to make him permanently human as long as he has a house, horse, bag of gold, and a wife by the beginning of spring. When Jack arrives in town and is introduced to Elisa and her family, he learns they are oppressed by a greedy Cossack, who has eyes on the peasants' income and Elisa. And Jack must also contend with Elisa's childhood sweetheart, Sir Ravenal. Will he decide to remain human in the end?
From the same director
Buddy Hackett (Pardon-Me-Pete (Groundhog) (voice)), Robert Morse (Jack Frost (voice)), Paul Frees (Kubla Kraus / Father Winter (voice)), Larry Storch (Papa (voice)), Dave Garroway (Groundhog Day Television Reporter (voice)), Debra Clinger (Elisa (voice)), Don Messick (Snip (voice)), Dee Stratton (Mama (voice)), Sonny Melendrez (Sir Ravenal Rightfellow (voice)), Dina Lynn (Holly (voice))
Romeo Muller (written by)
As I really like/love so much of Rankin/Bass' output, I realised that I had not seen Jack Frost. Being intrigued by the story concept, I knew I wanted to see it. And I really liked it on the most part, it is not a classic in the vein of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin' To Town, Frosty the Snowman, The Little Drummer Boy and The Year Without a Santa Claus, nor did it need or try to be and it is much better than it's given credit for. If there was anything I wasn't crazy about it was the groundhog Pardon-Me-Pete, who I find a trite character who fills the role of narrator but with not much personality or warmth(I know not all Rankin/Bass narrative characters have to be like Sam the Snowman for example but still). By all means Buddy Hackett does try hard but his character doesn't really allow him to play to his strengths and he does have a couple of jokes that fall flat.
I personally much enjoyed the music though, the scoring is whimsical and dynamic. The songs are also lovely with the exception of the train-wreck that is I've Got a Day Named After Me. I found that the lyrics were really uninspired, the melody forgettable and stylistically jarring to the rest and Hackett's vocals consisted of singing painfully out of tune when he wasn't talking his way through the song. It's Lonely Being One of a Kind and There's The Rub were the ones that stood out to me the most, the latter as a matter of fact is in my head right now. The animation is beautifully crafted, every bit as accomplished as the earlier Rankin/Bass classics with backgrounds full of intricate and atmospheric details and colours that positively leap out at you.
When it comes to the writing, Jack Frost is not one of the best in this regard(the best written for me is still Santa Claus is Comin' to Town) but it does at least maintain interest and is well-intentioned and sweet. The story didn't bore me in any way, there are some great ideas here, such as with the ice money, snowflake makers, snow gypsies and a knight in golden armour, and I was too engrossed in the story's imagination, charm and fun to really care about whether it made sense or not or whether it was propaganda(as I've seen it cited). The ending is different to what you'd expect, but it was refreshing to not have a "sugarcoated" ending once in a while and it was really quite touching. The characters are memorable apart from Pardon-Me-Pete, I found myself immediately liking and identifying with Jack, Dummy is hilarious and Kubla Kraus looks and sounds like Burgermeister Meisterburger as a cossack but is lots of fun all the same.
The voice acting is very good, Paul Frees as Kubla Kraus, Father Winter and Dummy is simply genius. Robert Morse brings an appealing chirpish charm to Jack and Debra Clinger a youthful sweetness to Elisa. All in all, very under-appreciated if not one of the studio's very best.
Cossackas are member of a people of southern Russia and Ukraine, noted for their horsemanship and military skill.
Джек Фрост (Soviet Union (Russian title))
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