A super short post this as we’re working on getting Thunderbean stuff taken care of. We’re trying to get as many things out the door as possible in the next few days, and it’s finals week at the school, so this one is brief!
Since we’re working on Noveltoons here, I’ve had that certain ‘sound’ of the Paramount Cartoon orchestration humming in my head a lot, so when I was thinking about what to show this year I thought about Santa’s Surprise (1947). This (was) an especially hard cartoon to find a decent print on, and I think the only 35mm that has surfaced on it belongs to Paul Mular (who was kind enough to lend his 35mm for film scanning when we were working on ‘Yuletide Flickers’ a few years back.
It’s nice to see the Famous Studios animators try to make a film that includes children from around the world; the simple story is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the film and serves as a good centerpiece for the series of gags that comprise the majority of the film. Unfortunately (and predictably) the usual stereotypes are present. I’m sure the Famous Studios staff approached these ideas as a reflection of the culture and time they were in without considering them much further; viewing today, I find the overall characterizations to be silly, playing into the simplest ideas of cultures around the world without much if any actual research. I have to wonder how this particular cartoon imported into other countries, especially those they attempt to represent!
Myron Waldman serves as the (real) animation director of the short, as Famous carries on the Fleischer tradition of credits. Waldman was especially proud of this particular cartoon (one of the few films he mentioned the handful of times I talked with him) and had hoped to find a better copy than the VHS tape he had on the film that contained a reddish NTA print. As it was almost always with Waldman, he was short on actual details about each particular thing he had worked on. I wish I has pressed him a little more to elaborate on what he liked about the film. You can clearly see that he’s going for charm above all else, and it is a really cute short.
Happy Holiday’s to everyone!