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We notice our first sight of Santa as he reads kiddie letters to
an older elf, who is checking to see which children are naughty or nice.
Molly wants a dolly, and the elf says she has been good, so no problem
there. Billy Brown chose the National Geographic route for his presents;
and because of how many animals he wanted, Santa kids around and says
he would get him Noah's Ark instead. (Does this give you a peculiar
thought if Santa was ALSO Father Noah a few months later? Hmmm...) The
older elf points out that for seven years, Billy hasn't washed behind
his ears! So, Santa compromises by asking an elf to include a keg of
soap in his package.
Returning to the workshop, we see the elves hard at work putting
together toys for the kiddies. We notice one assembly line putting a
horse together in chronological order, then a few others painting dolls
and checkerboards (with corny paint, mind you) followed by an elf scaring
the wits out of the dolls. This elf nests a spider in front of her face,
causing the hair to naturally stand up. As it does, the curlers come
down, and they take care of curling the hair.
The next part has me so perplexed. Santa then stamps "OK" on the
dolls, until a black one comes down the chute and as Santa stamps it,
the doll says "Mammy!" I noticed recently that the newer version of
the Walt Disney Christmas videotape does not have that scene in there,
but the original release does. It is once again a case of the Walt Disney
Grinch Company trying to force censorship down our throats. No wonder
the earth is going downhill.
Following this, Santa throws a plane which he catches with his mouth.
Disliking the taste, he throws it again and the plane crashes into all
the shelves of toys there is, harmlessly landing into a perfect display
in front of the tree. A long sequence of many varieties of dolls come
marching in, such as a black marching band, wooden soldiers better known
as Radio City Rejects, several penguins, an elephant, a donkey, two
oriental dolls blowing their hair straight up, a Charlie Chaplin doll
with a cop, a black doll on a donkey cart, Noah's ark, a few ducks,
tumbling teddy bears, two piggy banks, a Russian dancer, and a jack-in-the-box.
They all marched into Santa's bag, and upon conclusion, the elves helped
carry it to his sleigh.
Santa then sings his goodbyes to everyone and away he and the reindeer
went on their journey. Keep in mind the disclaimer in physics logic
is that Santa would not need 8 or 9 reindeer to pull the sleigh...he
would need 360,000 of them, but that is for discussion another time.
This one is definitely a Silly Symphony, from the music to the activity in the short, it’s silly and all set to music. The subject is, obviously, Santa’s Workshop, and all the activity that takes place to get ready for Christmas. So that means lots of elves making toys set to music. That makes it a quick moving short made of little snapshots of all the areas of the workshop.
There is no overarching story with conflict, etc. here, but instead it’s a progression of scenes moving from the different toys being made, to shots of Santa approving toys or reading his nice/naughty list. The amazing thing about this short, though, is the level of detail.
In seemingly every shot in this short, there is an overabundance of details that make it a richer, deeper looking short than we have seen before. Whereas the Mickey shorts or earlier Silly Symphony shorts featured some sparse backgrounds and focused on the characters, the fun of
Santa’s Workshop is the detail in the background.
The wide shot of the workshop starts it, but every shot is full of toys, games and more that are being made by the elves. When Santa is standing and approving the toys, you see a stack of toys all around him. Normally, this would be just neat little boxes, but this short packs in a huge pile of toys, adding more authenticity to the workshop.
The other standout thing in Santa’s Workshop is the gags. I am not a Santa historian, but this has to be one of the first times we have seen modern machinery at work in Santa’s workshop. There are hobby horses being produced on an assembly line, with gears and conveyor belts, and of course, my personal favorite – the dolls that get scared so their hair stands up and they can get a perm applied.
When Santa saddles up his sleigh and leaves, the short ends, but the good feelings don’t. This is not a perfect short, to be sure. It doesn’t engage like other Silly Symphonies have, so you’re left with a little, fluffy piece of work that doesn’t leave any indelible memories. But it does engender some happy, Christmas thoughts, and that may be enough.
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Submitted by eutychus