Most movies made from TV shows reflect nothing so much as Hollywood’s lack of imagination. So it was with the movie version of this beloved Dr. Seuss (Great American Things, April 21, 2009) TV special. It wasn’t that Ron Howard and Jim Carrey ruined it; they didn’t. It’s just that the original is so well crafted, so well produced, and so fresh even after 43 years that it didn’t need to be remade.
Unfortunately, the version you see on television these days has been edited slightly for time. Commercial breaks were shorter in 1966 than they are today, so unless you watch it on DVD, you’re missing a little bit. Not that you’re likely to notice.
Several elements went into making this such a memorable Christmas animation. The story, of course, which for the most part is taken directly from the book. (The dog Max was added for excellent comic effect, along with the difficulty Max and the Grinch have getting down the mountain to Whoville.) Choosing Boris Karloff as the narrator and voice of the Grinch was inspired. And the special was directed by the great Chuck Jones, known for making so many of the classic Warner Brothers cartoons.
But probably my favorite part of the program is the contribution of Thurl Ravenscroft. Who’s that, you ask? Well, he’s probably best known as the voice of Tony the Tiger. But in How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, he sang the wonderful song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”: