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Santa's Workshop

A Silly Symphony

Release Date : December 10, 1932

Running Time : 6:37

Synopsis

Santa reads off the list of good or bad boys and girls while the elves go about constructing the toys and making things ready for Santa's trip.

Characters

Santa Claus

Credits

Director
Wilfred Jackson
Animation
Les Clark
Norm Ferguson
Gerry "Clyde" Geronomi
Eddie Donnelly
Ben Sharpsteen
Charles Couch
Marvin Woodward
Harry Reeves
Dick Williams
Jack King
Tom Palmer
Joe D'Igalo
Hamilton Luske
Ed Love
Jack Cutting
George Drake
Art Babbitt
Louie Schmitt
Paul Fennell
Fred Moore
Jack Kinney
Nick George
Music
Frank Churchill

Cut Scenes

A scene where dolls are frightened by a spider, their hair sticks up on end and gets curled has been cut. A black stereotype doll saying "Mammy" has been edited out as has a black doll riding a donkey cart.

Video

United States
A Walt Disney Christmas
Germany
Walt Disney's Lieblingsgeschichetn Zu Weihnachten
Weihnachtpass mit Micky und Donald
Die Schönsten Weihnachtsgeschichten von Walt Disney
Frohe Weihnachten mit Micky Maus und ihren Freunden
Micky und Pluto Feiern Weihnachten
Italy
L'Asinello
Silly Symphonies Volume 1

Laserdiscs

United States
A Walt Disney Christmas
Japan
A Walt Disney Christmas
Merry Christmas

DVD

United States
Walt Disney Animation Collection : Volume 7 : Mickey's Christmas Carol
Disney Treasures : More Silly Symphonies
Germany
Weihnachtspass mit Micky and Donald
The Mickey Mouse Club : December 22, 1955
The Mickey Mouse Club : December 21, 1956

Technical Specification

Color Type: Technicolor
Animation Type: Standard animation
Sound Mix: Mono
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Negative Format: 35mm
Print Format: 35mm
Cinematographic Process: Spherical
Original Language: English

Released by United Artists Pictures

Comments


From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : I know it’s only September, about to be October, but isn’t it time for Christmas? I’m sure the malls are getting their decorations out, so why can’t we have a little Christmas fun here on the Disney Film Project? Today’s Silly Symphony is Santa’s Workshop, a fun little film highlighting the activity at the North Pole.

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.


From Mac : This a delightful cartoon. It would've been wonderful if audience reactions had ever been filmed for these early Technicolor cartoons. Now we can compare them to more sophisticated animated films created since, I can't help but feel the impact of these cartoons has been lessened over the years. In a time when just about everything else in the cinema was black and white, it must have been something to see these spectacles Disney was making.
From Tom Wilkins : This is the first Walt Disney classic featuring Santa Claus and his elves, known as the "Merry Merry Men of the Midnight Sun", according to the jingles at the beginning and end of the film. One elf alerts the others by saying to get a move on because tomorrow is Christmas Day. There were elves cleaning the reindeer, the sleigh, and other things as Santa prepared for his yearly journey to deliver presents to children.

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.


From Lelila : I've seen this short many times on the Disney channel, and it's a charming little thing. However, I would just like to note that the scene where the dolls get scared and have their hair curled has been in most versions I have seen.
From Ryan : This is one of my favorite Silly Symphony cartoons. I enjoy the way Santa had been drawn; a very cartoony figure with a round, red nose. The elf who reads the list of NAUGHTY and NICE children sounds a lot like the Practical Pig from the "Three Little Pigs" shorts. I dislike the censored version, which is shown on TV where a black doll comes down the chute and says "Mammy!"
From Sharon : Got to be a 10! My kids watch this every year over and over. Its not Christmas without it. And they are all late teens now!
From Josef : This is one of my favorite Silly Symphonies cartoons. Here in Sweden where I live this cartoon has been shown every Christmas since 1960! They also show Mickey's Trailer and other classic Disney shorts every Christmas. The animation in this shorts were very good too.
From Chris Purdue : Awesome! A ten! My sister and I have the original release of A Walt Disney Christmas and watch it every year. This is one of our favorite shorts. We love every second. One of my favorite scenes is the march of the toys into Santa's bag After seeing this short for the first time when she was three years old or so, my sister went Santa Claus crazy. She would talk about nothing but Santa even long after Christmas was over. And she would always say, "Poor ole Santa" when he caught the airplane in his mouth. To make a long story short, this short has been a part of our lives for years and hopefully it will be for many more years to come. Unfortunately, our videotape is starting to wear out. I hope that someday Disney will issue this short, uncensored, on DVD.
From Ida : Santa's Workshop is 10 of course! It´s a lovely Silly Symphony. I love it! Santa is so funny in this short! And the music is very nice, too.
From Dino Cencia : Another great Christmas short! Santa is awesome in this short! I love Christmas shorts. I give this a 8000. Christmas is the best holiday ever!
From Chris : I've been watching this cartoon every Christmas for as long as I can remember and I really love it. For some years now something has been bothering me though. The problem is the lyrics in the beginning when the elves sing "we're the merry merry men of the midnight sun, we work for Santa and have a lot of fun". As I was born far up north I know that Christmas on the north pole means no daylight at all. For a couple of months the sun doesn't rise above the horizon. So has Santa moved to Antarctica? Or is this just a slip of mind on Disney's behalf? I can imagine that most people know more about the midnight sun in summer than the midwinter darkness.
From Craig : We used to watch this cartoon all the time when my children were small. I just found it again and it brought back such wonderful memories. This cartoon truly embodies the feeling of Christmas.
From L. LaGreca : My family has watched this video for years. First my daughters, then my grandchildre. We recently had to buy a new copy, as our orginal video tape had broken. The 'new' version has censored the scene from Santa's Toyshop where the black baby doll comes down the chute & says, "Mammy." My 5 & 8 year old grandchildren were EXTREMELY disappointed, as this was their favorite scene.

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