The Little Drummer Boy (1968)

  • Year: 1968
  • Released: 19 Dec 1968
  • Country: United States
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  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: English
  • MPA Rating: Not Rated
  • Genre: Animation, Drama, Family
  • Runtime: 25 min
  • Writer: Romeo Muller
  • Director: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr., Takeya Nakamura
  • Cast: José Ferrer, Paul Frees, June Foray
  • Keywords: miracle, three kings, drum, stop motion, orphan, based on song, poem or rhyme,

The Little Drummer Boy Storyline

Animated film version of the legendary song of a boy who lets out all his frustrations on a drum, little knowing how significant this drum will be in the birth of the newborn Jesus.—hiphats

The Little Drummer Boy Photos

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The Little Drummer Boy Movie Reviews

Dark and heavy Christmas special

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.


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.


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.