December 23, 2006

Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives (1933)


A big problem with many cartoons is that they seem to think having a theme and moving around is enough to make a cartoon. They're probably right; it's just that it's not enough to make a GOOD cartoon. Even with some little good things to point to, being incredibly boring overall can ruin a cartoon.


Monkey's around the tree. They are repetitive and moving too fast, but they ARE monkeys.

Cool background homes.

Seusseian reindeer.

Santa's prison windows. German expressionist/Caligari style windows, even.

The many toys. That all move in rhythmic little cycles, but there's a lot of them and they don't do anything stupid like keep them going for 46 seconds...

Windup sambo jazz band. Sweet. That's the place to use the folk instrumentation, not as a stand in for the church organ...

Doll going "mama" falls into coal bin, comes out in black face, says "mammy", and a mammy type says "Sonny Boy" (Al Jolson ref)

Tulip wall.

DNA ball guy. Stretch your self to kick some shmo.

Little girl blows up a balloon, uses it to blow herself up into a big fat woman, then sings "Good Night Harvest Moon"; Scotty dogs say "are you listening?"; a reference to Sophie Tucker, possibly; it is at least clearly a reference.

Switching to bagpipe music when using bagpipe to put out tree fire is inventive.


The music starts nicely with bells and an orchestra; then it switches to ugly folk instrumentation (accordian) to represent the church of all things; then it goes back to the orchestra. Is it a subtle commentary on the nature of religion? I think maybe it's just general crappiness...

There are good looking stocking and fireplace and house details; but it's all over on the side, leaving huge amounts of useless empty space in the shot. The shot, incidentally, lasts for 46 seconds! You see the protagonist approach from outside, enter the house, go to the fireplace, stomp to the chair, cry on the chair, see Santa Claus approach, say Santy Clause, wait for Santy, Santy enters, and only then does the shot end. All with this big boring background.

The lame sad sack of a protagonist. He's boring, ugly, and irritating. Super.

Rhythmic bending at the knee and rhythmic lock step fist (pumping? As good a word as any I suppose).

The cartoon just ends. Santa made a cameo, took the protagonist to the shanty, then disappears. A fire starts and gets put out, everyone cheers, and it's over. Maybe they wanted everyone to really like the feature, which would look better in comparison to a craptacular short.


Don't mistake the many individual good things about the cartoon as an endorsement of the entire cartoon. It's lame.