Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Christmas from The Third Banana

Five vintage trailers for Christmas-themed childrens' movies: Santa Claus (1959), The Magic Christmas Tree (1964), Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964), The Christmas That Almost Wasn't (1966), and Santa's Magic Fountain (aka The Magic Fountain) (1961).

Bizarre yet perfunctory, The Magic Christmas Tree was shot in New York (Oswego?) for the then-booming kiddie matinée circuit, where standards didn't matter. In this clip, Mark, the least imaginative and most self-limiting child in the history of the universe, is given the powers of a god by a bitchy magical Christmas tree and immediately uses his limitless gift to make people chase after their own runaway vehicles and throw pies at one another. Ho ho! Ha ha! Hee hee! The very definition of "Funtastic".

Imagine yourself, 9 years old, dropped off at the Cinema Theater in the Vineland shopping center to watch something called Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny while your mother goes hunting for last-minute Christmas items. The poster you saw in the lobby depicted Santa and a huge rabbit riding around in a vintage fire truck, but it has now been well over an hour and you've had to endure endless shots of a skinny, sweat-stained Santa, sitting in a sleigh, muttering about the heat in Florida as well as a wrenchingly boring movie about Thumbelina that was sprung on you from out of nowhere and you have yet to see any sign of this so-called Ice Cream Bunny. Anticipation builds. Against your better judgment, you force yourself to believe that there must be something truly awe-inspiring about the Ice Cream Bunny's ultimate appearance. At this stage, nothing less than a titanic rabbit GOD dispensing gallon after gallon of soft serve ice cream from a fire hose would justify the tedium you've endured. And then...

This! THIS!!!! This winking, prancing, wrinkly freak! This saggy refugee from a costume shop bargain bin! THIS is your precious ICE CREAM BUNNY!!!! And not a single trace of ice cream!!! You've been DUPED!!!! USED!! And if you hadn't fully realized it before, you certainly do now; adults can and will do terrible things to unsuspecting kids.. and you will never, ever forget it.

Have some more saccharine with that sugar as you watch A Present for Santa Claus, a 1947 home movie produced by Official Films. Ann and Dickie thoughtfully leave their hot chocolate out for Santa and he therefore gives them everything on their Christmas lists, including a comatose puppy. If I were a parent on a tight budget in 1947, wouldn't I be on the spot after screening this for my kids.

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