Christmas Movies I

film 5 of 16

The Night Before Christmas

Film Review by Dean Duncan Mar 24, 2015

For me anyway, the less melodramatic, cartoon-lengthening conflict, the better. This has a very pretty establishing shot. There’s a diaper hanging on the mantel along with all those stockings. Some of the Silly Symphonies lecture and hector and annoy all over the place. I guess that’s for the kids’ sake, but this one really is for the kids, which is to say that it’s purely for pleasure. Note that great, gratuitous digression in which these terrifically imagined and executed toys (including a few craftily product-placed Mickey Mouses) play around much more than was necessary.

In late 1933, when most audiences are still depression-ravaged, The Night Before Christmas probably provides a welcome bit of cave-of-wonders wish fulfillment. As such, Santa’s kindly generosity when confronted with the stocking with the hole at the bottom—see Santa’s Workshop, q.v.—is quite sweet. (He inverts an umbrella, opens it, and starts pouring.) It’s still Arabian Nights, but now it’s not the morbid fantasy of the poor, but a warm hint of divine grace.

Also, as usual, a blackface joke.