Directed by: Arthur Rankin, Jr.
Jules Bass
Written by: Jerome Coopersmith
from the poem by Clement Moore
Release date: December 8, 1974
Running time: 25 minutes
Original network: CBS

’Twas the Night Before Christmas is Rankin/Bass's sixth animated Christmas television special, based on the famous 1823 poem that opens with this line. The special originally aired on the CBS network on December 8, 1974.


Set in the fictional town of Junctionville, NY around the turn of the 20th century, Santa Claus is offended by an anonymous letter printed in the town's newspaper (and signed "all of us") claiming that he doesn't exist. In response, Santa returns the entire town's letters to him unopened. Upon reading the anonymous letter printed in the newspaper, Father Mouse (voiced by George Gobel) — a mouse assistant to the human clockmaker Joshua Trundle (voiced by Joel Grey, the credited narrator) — immediately suspects that his brainy son Albert is its author. Albert (voiced by Tammy Grimes) confirms his suspicions, repeating the letter verbatim to him.

Father Mouse and the Trundle Family devise a plan to appease Santa by building a singing clock tower for him, built with a special recording to play a song to coax him not to bypass Junctionville on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, Albert enters the clock to explore it without permission and inadvertently breaks it, seriously damaging Trundle's professional reputation. Furthermore, the mayor (voiced by John McGiver), publicly embarrassed at the clock tower's failure, refuses to give the clockmaker access to it for repairs.

Confessing his mistake, Albert volunteers to repair the clock himself and Father Mouse tells Joshua of the situation before waiting at his bed with worry on Christmas Eve. Although Albert does not complete his task until about one minute after the Midnight deadline, the clock does play its song within earshot of Santa which convinces him to turn around and come to town after all.


When played on ABC Family or other television networks, "Give Your Heart a Try" is often cut out.


Voice actor Character
Patricia Bright voice
Scott Firestone voice
George Gobel Father Mouse
Joel Grey Joshua Trundle
Tammy Grimes Albert
Bob McFadden voice
John McGiver Mayor
Allen Swift voice
Christine Winter voice
Rankin/Bass Holiday Specials
Christmas Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerCricket on the HearthThe Little Drummer BoyFrosty the SnowmanSanta Claus is Comin' to Town'Twas the Night Before ChristmasThe Year Without a Santa ClausThe First ChristmasFrosty's Winter WonderlandThe Little Drummer Boy, Book IIRudolph's Shiny New YearNestor, The Long-Eared Christmas DonkeyThe Stingiest Man in TownRudolph and Frosty's Christmas in JulyJack FrostPinocchio's ChristmasThe Leprechauns' Christmas GoldThe Life and Adventures of Santa ClausSanta, Baby!
Other holidays The Mouse on the MayflowerHere Comes Peter CottontailMad, Mad, Mad MonstersThe First Easter RabbitThe Easter Bunny is Comin' To Town