Cricket on the Hearth ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Surprisingly, this was (to my knowledge) my first ever viewing of this Rankin-Bass Christmas special. In fact, I've never read the original novella or encountered any other adaptation of it, so this was my first exposure of any kind to this Dickens story.

Danny Thomas was surely one of the most instantly likable entertainers of his, or any other, era with the kind of relaxed charisma that made him seem approachable and reassuring all at once. He was, of course, the perfect choice to host this special and to perform as one of its key characters, even if his voice seems out of place for Dickensian London.

I tend to be a hard sell when it comes to melodramas, but I accept them more in animation and silent films, and short form is preferable to feature length. I was genuinely touched by the sequence in which Caleb resolved to lie to daughter Bertha in hopes of preventing her from realizing the misery of their situation. Deception isn't my style, but I can appreciate why someone might want desperately to try to carve out some facsimile of comfort for someone they love.

I was doing just fine with the melodrama, and then the next thing I know, we've cut to some kind of speakeasy populated by anthropomorphic animal underworld dwellers and then things go all Tarantino in what may be the most eye-popping sequence in anything I've seen in awhile. I never saw any of that coming. I mean, WOW. That show got real dark real fast, y'all. Returning to the melodrama for the finale worked well enough, but I was so startled by the abduction bit that I never fully readjusted.

I did appreciate that the story ends without any explicit declaration that Bertha's sight was restored after her reunion with Edward. The loss of her sight during a moment of trauma was so abrupt as to be silly, but somehow by not undoing that at the end, I find myself more able to accept it.

I was left with mixed feelings overall about this special, but also with curiosity about the Dickens novella, and I suspect I may look it up on Project Gutenberg in the next day or so.

How Cricket on the Hearth Entered My Flickchart

Cricket on the Hearth > The Shadow → #860
Cricket on the Hearth < Cruel Intentions → #860
Cricket on the Hearth < Man on the Moon → #860
Cricket on the Hearth< Piranha (1978) → #860
Cricket on the Hearth > 61* → #806
Cricket on the Hearth > Meet Bill → #779
Cricket on the Hearth < Sex and Breakfast → #779
Cricket on the Hearth < Zardoz → #779
Cricket on the Hearth < Brave → #779
Cricket on the Hearth < Christmas in Connecticut → #779
Cricket on the Hearth < The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood → #779

Cricket on the Hearth entered my Flickchart at #779/1719