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The Night Before Christmas

A Silly Symphony

Release Date : December 9, 1933

Running Time : 8:27

Synopsis

Loose rendition of Clement C. Moore's famous poem. St. Nick is seen delivering the toys he made in last year's "Santa's Workshop."

Characters

Santa Claus

Credits

Director
Wilfred Jackson
Animation
Ben Sharpsteen
Leonard Sebring
Joe D'Igalo
Tom McKimson
Archie Robin
Roy Williams
Louie Schmitt
Hamilton Luske
Bob Wickersham
Ed Love
Dick Heumer
Les Clark
George Drake
Hardie Gramatky
Story
Bob Wickersham
Webb Smith
Music
Leigh Harline
Voices
Kenny Baker

Source

Based on the story "The Night Before Christmas"

Cut Scenes

A child gets a black-face from chimney soot. A toy Amos and Andy pulling a black doll that says "Mammy."

Video

United States
A Disney Christmas Gift
A Walt Disney Christmas
Germany
Walt Disney's Lieblingsgeschichetn Zu Weihnachten
Die Schönsten Weihnachtsgeschichten von Walt Disney
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
Silly Symphonies Volume 1

CED

United States
A Disney Christmas Gift

Laserdiscs

A Disney Christmas Gift
A Walt Disney Christmas
Japan
A Walt Disney Christmas

DVD

United States
The Santa Clause (Special Edition)
Disney Treasures : More Silly Symphonies
Germany
Weihnachtspass mit Micky and Donald

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 7: Storybook Silly Symphonies
The Mickey Mouse Club : December 23, 1955
The Mickey Mouse Club : December 24, 1956
The Mickey Mouse Club : December 24, 1957

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

  • A sequel to the 1932 short Santa's Workshop.
  • Mickey Mouse makes a surprise appearance as one of the walking toys in the parade.

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : I’m a sucker for Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday of them all. Halloween is a close second, but Christmas is my favorite. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that The Night Before Christmas was a great delight to me.

This is an unofficial sequel to Santa’s Workshop, the earlier Silly Symphony that featured Santa and the elves getting ready for Christmas night. Here, we get to see the fruits of that labor, as Santa delivers the toys to the boys and girls who have been waiting for them all year long.

This is presented as an interpretation of the famous poem by the same name, but the poem is used as a framing device more than anything. The words of the poem are sung at the beginning, until Santa arrives at the house. From that point until near the end of the short, the action is all about Santa delivering the toys, which does not follow the poem.

The Santa presented here is the same one that was in Santa’s Workshop, with a red bulbous nose and overstated girth. You might recall that I did not enjoy that style then, and I still don’t. But in this short, it seems to fit better, because Santa is the magical person in an ordinary world, which makes it seem more realistic, if that makes sense.

The fun part of this is looking at how people were celebrating Christmas in 1933, versus how things are done today. I had forgotten about the fact that many people, per the German tradition, did not set up their tree until Christmas Eve, to reveal it to the children the next morning. In the short, Santa brings the tree and the toys help him set it up.

We get to see a parade of the toys, which is a familiar Disney theme. We saw in Santa’s Workshop, in an earlier Silly Symphony, Midnight in a Toy Shop, and it pops up again later in things like Babes in Toyland and in the parks with the Christmas parade. Here, we even get a familiar face in the parade.

This Mickey Mouse toy is a cute addition, because it really was a popular toy at the time. I have one that was my grandfather’s, and have copies that were made later as a “retro” toy that my son played with. It’s a nice little Easter egg for this short.

Of course, the Christmas spirit is front and center in this. It really warms my heart to see the toys gathered around the tree, and how they dive for cover when the kids come down the stairs. It’s like an early version of Toy Story. Funny how these early shorts seem to influence later films again and again. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

The final scenes where Junior gets a puppy and Santa leaves the house just add to the overall fun of the short. This is one that tugs at the heart strings, and leaves you in the mood to hang some twinkling lights. If you’re like me, the malls already have them up, so start getting in the spirit!


From Mac : A delightful little Christmas cartoon, that I'd be hard pushed to view objectively since it's the same old cartoon I've seen many times since I was really, really little! What's nice about this 'sequel' is that it fits so nicely onto the end of Santa's Workshop. There we left Santa riding into the night sky and here we start with him landing to make a delivery.

It's a relatively little known fact that the version on the More Silly Symphonies DVD is from an edited print. This was a mistake and Disney did offer a disc replacement program so that people could obtain the original version as advertised (I wish I'd gotten around to replacing it myself). Even the versions on YouTube which are labeled "uncut" and "uncensored" actually aren't. I've never seen the whole thing, but I understand that the parading toy scene was originally longer and contained more ethnic stereotype toys (notice how the music stops and starts suddenly in the cut from the parade to the tree).


From Patrick Malone : "'T'was the night before Christmas, and all through the house ..."

So begins Clement Clarke Moore's famous poem and this short as well. Beginning where the previous years' Silly Symphony Santa's Workshop left off, we pick Santa already on his way to a house chock full of kids. Disney always had a soft spot in his shorts for orphans (at least the more well behaved ones, but that's another story) and from the stockings that these kids have hung up, you can tell that their life is probably not the greatest. One is held together with a diaper pin, another has no bottom at all. Yet another, probably too young for any reasonably sized stocking, has hung up a diaper in lieu.

But of course, Santa does come for these kids, sliding down the chimney with a rain of soot and ashes. Unfortunately, someone left the coals burning a little too long, but Santa takes it with good humor. Now, if you remember from "Santa's Workshop", all Santa had to do was blow his whistle and all the toys marched into his bag. Here is no difference, as he wakes them up with a little reveille blown on a toy horn. In fact, the toys get most of the hard labor here in decorating the tree just right, right down to a toy fire truck blowing artificial snow onto it.

Santa still has to fill the stockings himself, though, and needs to be a little creative as some of the stockings don't even look like they would hold feet. A baseball bat slides neatly down one patched stocking and the one with no bottom? A neatly unfolded umbrella takes care of that problem which neatly holds the remainder of Santa's sack.

The work being done, and it being Christmas Eve, what better excuse is there but to take a little break for a party. The toy musicians break loose into a jazzy rendition of "Jingle Bells", the dolls make a circle around the tree and begin dancing, even Santa himself can't resist joining in on a toy piano. But maybe he should have had one of his elves tune it a bit better as the last note comes out badly out of tune. That's enough to startle the kids upstairs out of their slumber and they cascade out of bed to see what the noise is all about. Apparently no one in this household can keep quiet for too long, because as the children gaze in wonder at what is happening, one lets out an ill-timed sneeze.

That small sneeze is enough to let Santa and the toys know that maybe the party has gone on too long. Santa quickly shooes the toys back into place and makes his escape back up the chimney before the children can rush downstairs to explore. Down they come in a torrent and, even though it's still only Christmas Eve, who can blame them for breaking into their presents. One young lad (the same one that let out the sneeze) has to try to look up the chimney to catch just a tail end view of Santa, but gets a faceful of soot as a reward. But he finds one more present under the tree, which he finds contains a puppy which licks his face clean.

And, as the children rush to the window to watch Santa merrily riding away into the moonlight...

"They heard him exclaim as he rode out of sight,
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"


From Jerry Edwards : I generally love Christmas-themed films and shorts. But this is generally uninteresting to me. It just doesn't have a Disney "look" and "feel" to it for me. My wife, when she first saw this cartoon, thought it was done by the Fleischer Studios. The deletion of the censored scenes removes what little interest the short held for me.
From David Willis : Another short that always gets shown around Christmas time. This short was on the TV recently (not on the Disney Channel UK) and the cut scenes were not cut out.
From Ida : Santa is awesome again! It´s lovely to see how Santa plays with the toys. Because of Santa it must be 10!
From Dino Cencia : One of the best holiday Christmas shorts. This short is great to watch around Christmas time if you have this short on VHS or DVD. Also, Disney companies should make a DTV video clips with Santa Claus and Christmas songs. I love the part when Santa takes all the toys and puts them under the tree. That's like on Christmas Eve when you're sleeping and Santa comes down the chimney puts gifts under the tree. Great Christmas short! I give this a 10000. Merry Christmas!

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