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Happy Holidays!

Everyone at PaydayPERX hopes that you have a spectacular, fun, restful and joy-filled holiday, and that your new year is full of smiles and laughter.

We also hope you like charming old holiday films that are now in the public domain!

Holiday 2022: "Santa Claus" (1959) 

take the deeper dive

There's so much more to explore when it comes to the genre of Holiday cinema. The first one of the type was made by George Albert Smith all the way back in 1898 - just a few years after the very first zoopraxiscope motion picture was created in 1880. Simply called "Santa Claus", it is the oldest surviving example of a Christmastime movie and among the oldest surviving examples of any type of film.

More than ten additional Christmas films were made before 1912, at least three of which were The Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens' beloved holiday novella which is widely credited as the reason why Christmas is celebrated to the degree it is even today. A charming film on that subject is "The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)", reviewed in detail here.

By 1959, dozens of holiday films were being made in the US and across the world, and yet demand for more was so insatiable that producer K. Gordon Murray, under his narrator-psuedonym Ken Smith, profitably brought it to the United States for a quick redubbing and re-release among his various other properties including "Little Red Riding Hood and the Monsters." These films were targeted at children who were less discerning moviegoers, willing to overlook silly costumes, visible strings and boom mikes, and incomprehensible plot elements like demons advancing their plot to kill Santa Claus through the strategy of talking children into being mean to dogs or stealing dolls. To be fair, probably a lot was lost in translation; it's uncertain if K. Gordon Murray spoke Spanish.


In 1964 some of the footage was also edited into a short film called "Santa's Enchanted VIllage", also 'written' by K Gordon Murray, which was a promotional film for a Theme Park company with locations in Illinois and California called 'Santa's Village Parks'. These parks had a few thrill rides interspersed with a lot of small playhouses and educational exhibits, and the footage from the 1959 Original was a perfect match for footage shot on location at the parks, which featured a number of supercooled metal poles encased in ice that no doubt captured more than a few children by the tongue over the years. You can find the Wikipedia entry on this controversial film distributor/producer and occasional voiceover actor here.

santa, merlin and

the devil

Santa Claus keeps some interesting friends.

In Santa Claus (1959), Santa and Merlin are peers, allies and great friends, and though the similarities of their archetypes are note examined in the film, they have certain similarities that are more than coincidence. Both are clearly folkloric entities of magic, and both are based to some degree on one or more people with whom their public appearance today bears little resemblance; Merlin may have been a druidic shaman who actually lived in the British Isles pre-conquest, and Santa Claus is closely associated with St. Nicholas, a historical figure, as well as Father Christmas, a relatively modern concept based in  older druidic traditions. 

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