This is an unofficial sequel to
Santa’s Workshop, the earlier Silly Symphony that featured Santa and the elves getting ready for Christmas night. Here, we get to see the fruits of that labor, as Santa delivers the toys to the boys and girls who have been waiting for them all year long.
This is presented as an interpretation of the famous poem by the same name, but the poem is used as a framing device more than anything. The words of the poem are sung at the beginning, until Santa arrives at the house. From that point until near the end of the short, the action is all about Santa delivering the toys, which does not follow the poem.
The Santa presented here is the same one that was in
Santa’s Workshop, with a red bulbous nose and overstated girth. You might recall that I did not enjoy that style then, and I still don’t. But in this short, it seems to fit better, because Santa is the magical person in an ordinary world, which makes it seem more realistic, if that makes sense.
The fun part of this is looking at how people were celebrating Christmas in 1933, versus how things are done today. I had forgotten about the fact that many people, per the German tradition, did not set up their tree until Christmas Eve, to reveal it to the children the next morning. In the short, Santa brings the tree and the toys help him set it up.
We get to see a parade of the toys, which is a familiar Disney theme. We saw in Santa’s Workshop, in an earlier Silly Symphony, Midnight in a Toy Shop, and it pops up again later in things like Babes in Toyland and in the parks with the Christmas parade. Here, we even get a familiar face in the parade.
This Mickey Mouse toy is a cute addition, because it really was a popular toy at the time. I have one that was my grandfather’s, and have copies that were made later as a “retro” toy that my son played with. It’s a nice little Easter egg for this short.
Of course, the Christmas spirit is front and center in this. It really warms my heart to see the toys gathered around the tree, and how they dive for cover when the kids come down the stairs. It’s like an early version of
Toy Story. Funny how these early shorts seem to influence later films again and again. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
The final scenes where Junior gets a puppy and Santa leaves the house just add to the overall fun of the short. This is one that tugs at the heart strings, and leaves you in the mood to hang some twinkling lights. If you’re like me, the malls already have them up, so start getting in the spirit!
It's a relatively little known fact that the version on the More Silly Symphonies DVD is from an edited print. This was a mistake and Disney did offer a disc replacement program so that people could obtain the original version as advertised (I wish I'd gotten around to replacing it myself). Even the versions on YouTube which are labeled "uncut" and "uncensored" actually aren't. I've never seen the whole thing, but I understand that the parading toy scene was originally longer and contained more ethnic stereotype toys (notice how the music stops and starts suddenly in the cut from the parade to the tree).
So begins Clement Clarke Moore's famous poem and this short as well.
Beginning where the previous years' Silly Symphony
left off, we pick Santa already on his way to a house chock full of
kids. Disney always had a soft spot in his shorts for orphans (at least
the more well behaved ones, but that's another story) and from the stockings
that these kids have hung up, you can tell that their life is probably
not the greatest. One is held together with a diaper pin, another has
no bottom at all. Yet another, probably too young for any reasonably
sized stocking, has hung up a diaper in lieu.
But of course, Santa does come for these kids, sliding down the chimney
with a rain of soot and ashes. Unfortunately, someone left the coals
burning a little too long, but Santa takes it with good humor. Now,
if you remember from "Santa's Workshop", all Santa had to do was blow
his whistle and all the toys marched into his bag. Here is no difference,
as he wakes them up with a little reveille blown on a toy horn. In fact,
the toys get most of the hard labor here in decorating the tree just
right, right down to a toy fire truck blowing artificial snow onto it.
Santa still has to fill the stockings himself, though, and needs
to be a little creative as some of the stockings don't even look like
they would hold feet. A baseball bat slides neatly down one patched
stocking and the one with no bottom? A neatly unfolded umbrella takes
care of that problem which neatly holds the remainder of Santa's sack.
The work being done, and it being Christmas Eve, what better excuse
is there but to take a little break for a party. The toy musicians break
loose into a jazzy rendition of "Jingle Bells", the dolls make a circle
around the tree and begin dancing, even Santa himself can't resist joining
in on a toy piano. But maybe he should have had one of his elves tune
it a bit better as the last note comes out badly out of tune. That's
enough to startle the kids upstairs out of their slumber and they cascade
out of bed to see what the noise is all about. Apparently no one in
this household can keep quiet for too long, because as the children
gaze in wonder at what is happening, one lets out an ill-timed sneeze.
That small sneeze is enough to let Santa and the toys know that maybe
the party has gone on too long. Santa quickly shooes the toys back into
place and makes his escape back up the chimney before the children can
rush downstairs to explore. Down they come in a torrent and, even though
it's still only Christmas Eve, who can blame them for breaking into
their presents. One young lad (the same one that let out the sneeze)
has to try to look up the chimney to catch just a tail end view of Santa,
but gets a faceful of soot as a reward. But he finds one more present
under the tree, which he finds contains a puppy which licks his face
And, as the children rush to the window to watch Santa merrily riding
away into the moonlight...
"They heard him exclaim as he rode out of sight,
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"
Click on thumbnail for full size image