Sunday, 30 October 2011

49. The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives (1933)

Warner cartoon no. 48.
Release date: January 7, 1933.
Series: Merrie Melodies.
Directed by: Rudolf Ising.
Producers: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger.
Cast unknown. 
Animation: Rollin Hamilton and Norm Blackburn.
Musical Score: Frank Marsales.

This is the first cartoon to be released in 1933, and it was obviously created and finished in 1932, as it was probably meant to be released in Christmas 1932, but due to production schedules, it would be delayed to January. Sorry if the screen grabs have rather crappy quality. Oddly enough, this is October 30 - and I'm reviewing a Christmas production - I should review something Halloween like, but my schedule says that I have to review The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives - oh well. We are getting near to Christmas, aren't we? I mean some of my aunts and uncles are already talking about Christmas present lists.

The short starts off with church bells playing as it's Christmas Eve. We then see a layout view of a church with the lights on and the choir and those attending night Church are singing Silent Night. An orphan boy then walks past in a snowstorm, with no home and no friends. The boy then walks past a house in which we can hear music in the background playing Jingle Bells - he sees all the kids holding hands together like a circle, and running around the Christmas tree. The boy wishes that he lived in a comfortable home.

Suddenly, the wind blows and the boy ends up blowing and hitting a hut with a pile of snow on top of the roof falling on top of him. The boy then starts sniffing and sobbing as he enters in for some shelter. As he arrives, he learns that he hasn't got any coal to keep the fire on, and nothing to keep him warm. He then starts to break down in tears, until - a miracle arrives. Santa Claus comes to town!!

Santa arrives inside the shelter, to which the boy turns astonished in amazement that a miracle had arrived in excellent timing conditions. To the boy's amazement, he gasps "Santy Claus!". Santa enters the shelter as he is singing the chorus to the title song. He sure is a jolly Santa Claus in this short. The boy says how he wishes to go on his sleigh, and his wish is Santa's command as he's been a good boy this year - yep, one of Santa's trademarks for children "behavior". So the boy is going on an exciting ride to "the shanty where Santy Claus lives".

The little boy then stands on top of the sleigh, as Santa sits inside his sleigh. Santa asks the orphan if he's ready, and as soon as the reindeers start to move - the boy falls off the sleigh and lands on the snow. He runs to the sleigh to catch up. Santa grabs him and places him on his lap as he will be safe there. The sleigh then rises up in the sky and they finally arrive at Santa's shanty, and it seems that the journey didn't take very long after all.

I must say that the introduction to this sequence is very good, I love the music for the church bells at the very beginning as it shows a rather dark introduction to the orphan boy, and the toughness he has to go through, since he doesn't belong in a good home and he lives alone.

 As Santa and the boy enters the shanty, all the toys start to welcome him. The boy chants "Oh boy" in delight, as it's full of toys and it looks like the boy is in paradise. The boy goes along to play with the other toys, he plays on one toy in which he plays with a type of kangaroo doll, in which a small kangaroo comes out of the mother's patch. The boy then plays with a music box in which a jazz band plays music. Napoleon is then playing on the drums, until a baby doll cries "Mamma", in which the baby falls down onto a bucket of ash, and turns into a blackface and shouts "Mammy". A blackface woman then looks at the blackface baby and replies "Sonny boy".

That gag with the "mamma" transferred to "mammy" through design would've been a funny gag back when it was released, but I don't think the audience would understand the joke watching it today - as joke like these are not common anymore and strict in terms of censorship.

We then go to the next shot of a doll and her backup singers (both of them Bosko and Honey looking). They are singing the chorus to the title song The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives with all the other toys dancing. WAIT A MINUTE?? Haven't we seen this before - the exact same animation from Red-Headed Baby. Aw, man - this ruins a cartoon that was sentimental to start of with, and now a reuse? After the song is over, there is confetti being tossed and the doll runs to get a pair of marakas, in which the backup singers start to dance to Mexican music, that even causes Napoleon to dance.

We see a shot of a doll that is blowing a balloon and wants the doll has blown a good-shaped balloon, and sucks the hellium inside her body into a rather obese woman which is a caricature of Katie Smith who sings a song called Shine on Harvest Moon. Well, at least the caricature would be entertaining at it's time, and it would make the audience laugh. There is a brief scene of two Scottish terriers who say Ben Bernie's line "Are ya listenin?" Another funny scene I like is a bear playing the trombone, and keeps hitting the jack-in-the-box with the trombone and the jack gets knocked onto a drum numerous times.

Napoleon is bouncing on a Christmas tree, in which he accidentally spills a candle hanging that causes a Christmas tree to go on fire which turns out to nearly become a Christmas disaster. The toy fire engine department try their best to put the fire out but their attempt doesn't work. The orphan boy tries to put the fire out, as he spots a pair of bagpipes, and he attaches a hose into the bagpipes. The boy puts the fire out successfully in which all the toys and the boy cheer - and that's all folks.

This cartoon was quite sentimental, and the beginning scenes were quite good with good character development going on. Up to the point in which he arrives at Santa's workshop - the short gets weaker as the toys enter, and we just see nothing but toys and not much of the orphan. The reuse scene from Red Headed Baby was just poorly reused, that I almost forgot that scene, and just remembered it because it was reused.

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