ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar- Day 5
Updated: Dec 8, 2022
ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar- Day 5
No matter what decade we visit, Christmas is an enchanted time when anything is possible. Well, maybe not anything. Maybe not every piece of celluloid devoted to Christmas is enchanting, but sometimes even the most threadbare, budget starved production can still present a fistful of enchanted ideas.
Warning: Spoiler Alert! But really, this short film has been around for 71 years. If you haven't gotten around to watching it by now, you probably never will.
ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar December 5- Santa and the Fairy Snow Queen (1951)
We are introduced to a Brownie (the odd name for elves in this short) named Snoopy (Rochelle Stanton). Snoopy is a snitch for Santa, but we will get into all that in due time. She prances around in her brown elf suit, whinnies like a horse and has incredibly wide, expressive eyes. There's something I immediately like about Snoopy.
It is Christmas Eve and while the Brownies are preparing Santa's sleigh for his yearly jaunt around the world, he has called the Fairy Snow Queen over for some sugar cookies. Whether "sugar cookies" is short for "sugar," as in "Give big papa some sugar," I do not know. I think it's legit cookies made from sugar though.
Santa (Edmund Penney) is exhausted and sits down amid a chamber room inhabited by some toys not yet packed away for delivery. He falls asleep. The Fairy Snow Queen (Margot Von Leu) arrives and finds him asleep. She thinks it would be funny to play a prank on him, so she brings all the toys in the room to life.
The toys frolic and play and dance around. The Jack in the Box leaps from his box and gyrates wildly, sweating, acting crazy. The Raggedy Anne doll's face is made to look like it was stitched together from different pieces of fabric, but she comes across more like Frankenstein's Monster.
Santa awakens and has a good laugh then asks the Fairy Snow Queen to change the toys back to the inanimate play things they were intended as. "Change them back, Snow Queen, before something horrible happens."
Zip-Zap-Zup and... nothing. Alakazam I'll Try It Again! Still nothing.
The Fairy Snow Queen realizes that she has lost her powers for playing one too many tricks. The toys will have to stay alive.
This does not go over well with the Chairman of the Board. Santa made just enough toys for all the world's children and there's no wiggle room to allow these rando six or seven toys to not be under a tree somewhere in the coming morning. Santa tries to reason with them.
The toys refuse to turn back. Santa uses reverse psychology and then negative re-enforcement to guilt the toys to turn back. "I guess there won't be a Christmas since there's not enough toys for everyone."
It almost works perfectly, but the wooden soldier confesses that in the time he has been alive he has fallen deeply in love with the dancing doll (!). The dancing doll confesses her love for the wooden soldier.
"See how hard it it to be alive?" Santa asks.
Being alive means experiencing feelings, hopes, dreams. It also means crushing disappointment, rejection and depression when it all comes crashing down.
And it always comes crashing down.
"We want to be toys, Santa!"
They jubilantly agree to become inanimate slaves to the whims of children once again, but not before plea-bargaining the provision that they will be able to come to life every night at midnight for an hour, when everyone has gone to bed. Santa, always keeping an eye on his overhead, agrees as long as the toys use that hour to spy on the children and file reports on them. (There might be more bad kids out there than he knows about. Maybe he's manufacturing more toys than are really needed?)
Because of her part in all of the drama that has unspooled over the last twenty minutes, Snoopy (since she is Santa's "Snoop") is promoted to oversee the spy toys. They will report their findings to her. They are now a Snitch Squad, illegally monitoring the actions of the world's child population, and Snoopy is the Queen Snitch. She prances around and whinnies some more and, I don't know, she kind of makes that ugly brown elf costume kind of sexy.
The Fairy Snow Queen goes home. Christmas is saved.
What is my takeaway here? Telling on people is okay, even desirable? Do whatever management requires of you to get the job done? Spying on young citizens is for the betterment of the community? It is better to feel nothing than to have to deal with complex emotions? Prancing is an acceptable form of locomotion?
This short has stirred up so many conflicting feelings in me, I am not prepared to really discuss how I feel about it as of this writing. It's made all the more confusing by my feelings for Snoopy- she seems like that wholesome cheerleader type that everyone fell in love with back in high school, but she has an obnoxious laugh. What do you do? (You ask her out but don't tell any jokes, am I right?)
Oh, and the Fairy Snow Queen is attractive too, taking a couple moments to flash a little cleavage that seems inappropriate for both a Children's Christmas Short and 1951.
I was not able to find much out about this short. Director Sid Davis produced some four dozen shorts as well as the 1961 feature V.D.. (The poster shouts "Damaged Goods. Dirty Words to Some. Damaged Goods. Careless Love to Others!!") He directed other shorts like LSD: Trip or Trap (1967) and The Pill Poppers (1971).
The entire cast seemed to work mostly in episodic Television. Ms. Stanton appeared on The Roy Rogers Show and The Gene Autrey Show after this. (I wonder if those are streaming anywhere?)