Century Film Project

Celebrating the movies our ancestors loved

Tag: Christmas Movies

The Christmas Dream (1900)

Georges Méliès displays the holiday spirit with this fanciful and homely short film. Impressive for the period in its number of setups, it is surprisingly devoid of the special effects that one expects from Méliès.

The opening scene, which may be incomplete, shows children being tucked into a four-poster bed in a room decorated with noble crests and a fireplace. The servant that tucks them in is in Renaissance-era clothing, and she sits down to read aloud from a book. The image then fades to a stage, and a bearded man in a crown hustles people off the stage to prepare for a dance number. First, there is a kind of parade in which a coach is wheeled behind a minstrel, and what appears to be a giant toy rabbit hitting a drum. Then some clowns come onto the stage and perform a dance. One of them loses his shoe, and the rest of the performers dance around it, including dancing girls and a ballerina. Finally, the clown leads another dance and retrieves his shoe, but in doing so, his hat falls off. The crowned man returns and shoos everyone offstage, grabbing the clown by the neck. The next shot shows the snow-covered rooftops of a small town. Angels flit from one roof to another, dropping presents down the chimneys. Next we see the interior of a church, where a man supervises some children pulling on the bell ropes. Some well-dressed citizens come in and shake the snow off their clothes, removing their cloaks and proceeding into the chapel. The next shot shows the bell, constructed of wooden flats but given the illusion of reality by perspective painting and a separate clapper that swings opposite to the bell. Doves fly around the bell tower and a man with a lantern climbs up at the end of the shot.

The next scenes show well-dressed people going in to a feast, first from an exterior street shot (actually a standard proscenium stage dressed as a street), then from inside the hall. The rich people walk past some beggars in the snow and ignore them. One of them comes inside the hall, and he is generously invited to join the feast by the lord of the manor, although the servants don’t want to admit him. This happy scene fades out again and back to the bedroom from the beginning of the movie, where the children are waking up to find presents at the fireplace. Grownups come into the room and see them at play, bringing more toys for them. The final shot shows angels dancing in a snowy heaven.

It’s interesting that Méliès stayed away from his usual trick film effects, especially people appearing and disappearing. There’s a brief image of a transparent angel at the end of the shot with the rooftops, which may also be an incomplete scene, but apart from that there is no camera trickery, just some dissolves from one scene to the next. I wonder if Méliès was trying to achieve a more reverential or serious tone with this film, maintaining a respect for the holiday rather than the fantastic and whimsical approach of his trick films. He certainly did go to (at least) his usual effort on the props and costumes, and the number of setups alone make this a “big budget” film by 1900 standards. It seems to be lacking a clear plot, but I also wonder if the story of the rich man and the beggar might be from a source that French children would recognize. In general, it seems to be more interested in capturing the mood of Christmas than in telling a story, and one imagines that it pleased the children who got to see it.

Director: Georges Méliès

Camera: Unknown

Starring: Georges Méliès

Run Time: 4 Min, 15 secs

You can watch it for free: here.

The Parrish Priest’s Christmas (1906)

Alternate Title: Le Noël de Monsieur le curé

This fluffy little Christmas story from Alice Guy probably exemplifies why some speak of early Gaumont as “moralist” (although the later Fantômas series argues against this!). It speaks of a simple faith that overcomes poverty and hardship.

Parrish Priests Christmas1We see a Priest at home; on his wall a calendar tells us it is Dec. 23. He opens a book and an insert shot lets us see that he is reading about Christmas and the Nativity. He is suddenly overcome with an inspiration and summons his housekeeper. He reminds her of the coming holiday, and they go through his current budget to see if there is money for a special display. His purse has only a few small coins, so he resolves to go out into the community and raise funds. His first stop is the home of some simple peasants. They turn out their pockets as well; they have no money, either. But, they are eager to contribute something and the wife gets a basket full of eggs. The Priest happily agrees, but then can’t figure out a way to carry the basket safely, in addition to his hat and cane, so the woman comes along with him. Now they stop at the shop of a wealthy merchant, and he and the Priest talk for a while. The merchant wants to sell the Priest a large statue of an infant, but the Priest asks if he has anything smaller. Looking disappointed, the merchant finds a smaller infant doll. The Priest gets out his meager coins and the merchant looks dubious. The Priest calls in the woman and she offers the basket of eggs. Now the merchant is dismissive – he won’t accept barter and he’s not interested in giving charity to the church. The Priest and the peasant woman leave. The next scene shows them setting up the nave of the church. They have put out a cradle in front of the statue of the Madonna and put straw in it to represent the manger, but there is no baby Jesus, the congregation will have to use their imaginations for that. When the Mass is performed, suddenly two angels appear on the altar, and one places a baby into the cradle. All of the congregation and the Priest show their thanks for this miracle.

Parrish Priests Christmas2Unlike the many American Christmas movies I reviewed last year, this is a thoroughly religious Christmas movie, tied to a specific faith and its rituals. This probably limited its appeal for foreign distribution, although it is a well-made and touching story. The moral of the story – that the poor people are willing to donate even though they have little to offer while the rich merchant is too stingy – would work well enough in American progressivist pictures, but many Protestants would object to the idolatry and symbolism of the end. Almost certainly, it would be rejected in the Baptist south. From a French point of view, however, it probably works, and this seems to confirm the surprising trend away from English translations in these movies at this time. Guy continues to improve her technique, as the use of the insert shot, the measured acting, and the careful pacing of this thoughtful movie all show. There are no Intertitles (at least, none that have survived in the print I saw), but the story is told in a way that allows the viewer to sort things out with minimal work. You don’t necessarily know at first what the Priest wants money for, but it works itself out logically by the time he’s at the merchant’s shop. This movie seems to be a good representative of the style Guy established as she became more confident and less imitative.

Guy's first insert?

Guy’s first insert?

Director: Alice Guy

Camera: Unknown, possibly Alice Guy or Anatole Thiberville

Starring: Unknown

Run Time: 5 Min, 30 secs

You can watch it for free: here.

A Christmas Past (1901-1925, 2001)

Christmas PastWorldcat link for Inter-Library Loan: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/48798726

This DVD release from Kino has been the source of all of the “seasonal” movies I’ve reviewed in the past month, and now I want to take a moment to review the DVD itself. It is a surprisingly good quality disc, although with few features or bonuses. It includes the eight movies I reviewed, and also the 1925 two-reeler “Santa Claus,” which was shot in Alaska and is also well worth seeing. The chapter menu includes thumbnail video to show you what you’ll see, and each one includes music by Al Kryszak that seems well chosen for the mood, if somewhat simplistic and at times redundant.

Night_Before_Christmas_1905What I found especially interesting about the collection is what it says about the relationship between the media and Christmas. When I recently heard Lou Lumenick speak at a screening of “Miracle on 34th Street,” he said that it was the first instance of a “secular Christmas” movie being made, but this disc proves that thesis wrong. None of these movies has an overtly religious theme, and the closest we come to actual moralizing or overt spirituality is the adaptation of Charles Dickens’s 19th Century “A Christmas Carol.” In general, it seems to me that filmmakers, including such luminaries as D.W. Griffith and Edwin S. Porter, realized from an early time that Christmas movies needed to appeal to a broad audience and to emphasize childhood innocence and family rather than divisive religious questions. Santa Claus is a common theme in these movies, and whether he is portrayed as “real” or not, he represents an inclusive concept of love and generosity, not a specifically Christian Saint Nicholas, much as seen in “Miracle” thirty years later.

Trap_for_Santa_ClausAlthough the movies themselves varied for me in terms of enjoyment and interest, the whole package is a good historical examination of a theme that often goes overlooked in standard film histories. I suspect that this disc will remain a holiday tradition at my house for some time to come.

Santa Claus vs Cupid (1915)

For my final Christmas movie of the year, I’d love to tell you I’ve saved something really special, something that offers insight not only into the season, but into the way people felt about it a century ago and how it is similar to how we feel about it today. Instead, I’ve got this movie.

Santa Claus vs CupidTwo pie-faced boys moon over the image of the same bland-looking woman (Grace Morrissey) in a looking glass. In a plot that seems half-borrowed from “The Adventure of the Wrong Santa Claus,” one of them is invited to a Christmas party at her house to play Santa, while the other (Raymond McKee) mistakenly thinks this will be his role. Then, a burglar shows up at the house and tries to steal all the toys (were toys at Christmastime easy to fence or something?). The burglar in this case is “Mulligan,” one of the chauffers that brought the rich kids to the party, and in a nod to social conscience, the plot establishes his desperate situation at home, with a sick wife in need of medicine, as the reason for his attempted misdeeds. In the end, he winds up fighting both Santa Clauses, but being stopped by Jack, the one the girl spurns. Jack gives Muligan some money, in the spirit of Christmas. She still appears to prefer Edward, so I guess cupid wins this round.

Santa Claus vs Cupid1As suggested, this is a mostly recycled, light-comedy plot with not too much to recommend it. There are some cute bits, as when the maid points above the head of the butler and the cook, and the camera pulls back slightly to show that they are standing under mistletoe. They both begin to pucker up, look at each other, and run away, Another funny part is Jack standing around his house with a pillow in his pants, waiting to be called to play Santa Claus. I’d be surprised if this was a particularly big money maker for Edison, but the company’s film department was in decline at this point, and even the Edison Trust had been broken up by court order earlier in the year, so it’s probably too much to expect any breakthroughs.

Santa Claus vs Cupid2Director: Willard Louis

Camera: Unknown

Cast: Raymond McKee, Grace Morrissey, Billy Casey

Run Time: 15 Min

you can watch it for free: here.


Adventure of the Wrong Santa Claus (1914)

This is a somewhat sophisticated Edison short release, timed to coincide with the story’s appearance in the December issue of “Pictorial Review.” It appears to be part of a series of movies starring “Octavius, Amateur Detective,” a sort of spoiled American Sherlock Holmes.

Wrong Santa Claus1At the beginning, Octavius (Barry O’Moore) is taking tea when his butler arrives with an invitation to attend a party and play Santa Claus for the children. The butler seems quite concerned about Octavius’s reaction, and looks relieved when his master laughs. Octavius goes to a store and buys a Santa Claus suit, although when he arrives, the wife tells him they already have one. After hanging around for a while, meeting the children and a pretty young woman who was also invited to the party, Octavius goes upstairs to change. Meanwhile, a burglar has entered the home and scouted it out a bit. He changes into the spare Santa Claus suit and knocks Octavius out. He goes downstairs, is seen by the wife and is able to steal all the presents (apparently they look like the most expensive things in the house, even though they’re wrapped and he has no idea what they are). Then he leaves the house, just as Octavius wakes up.

Wrong Santa ClausOctavius finds the wife and the looted Christmas tree, and quickly figures out what happened. Undeterred by the fact that he is wearing a Santa suit, Octavius begins the chase! He tracks the thief to a train station, just barely managing to board the train before it pulls away. He confronts the other Santa, but is deterred by the conductor. Then, when they reach the next station, the thief gets off, and Octavius tries telling his story to a police officer. The other Santa shows him a name written on a package, and presumably convinces the cop it’s his name. Octavius follows the burglar until he goes into a store and puts his basket down while shopping. Octavius grabs the basket and runs back to the cop. The cop, who had prevented one Santa Claus from taking a basket away from another once before, assumes that the two Santas are in the same roles again, and arrests the man trying to take the basket away from Octavius. Octavius rides the train back to the previous town, and brings the basket of toys just like a real Santa Claus, distributing toys to the family’s children. Then there’s an extended ending in which Octavius and the pretty young woman try to get away from the kids to smooch. Ultimately, Octavius has to give them hush money.

Wrong Santa Claus2I haven’t seen any other Octavius, Amateur Detective films, but I wasn’t too taken with the character here. He does manage to recover the stolen goods, but more through doggedness and deception than through brilliant deduction and insights. He comes across as sort of a doof, if not an idiot. His success seems to rely on an opponent dumb enough to rob a house while people are home and wear a highly-visible getup in his escape. I was somewhat impressed by the editing, which made good use of cross-cutting, especially during the initial break-in sequence and the chase. The camera was set quite close to the actors as well, not just cutting off feet but entire legs and sometimes the tops of heads. This seemed especially unusual for the conservative Edison Studios, where we expect entire bodies to be shown. On the whole, it’s a technically proficient, but narratively lightweight Christmas piece.

Wrong Santa Claus3Director: Charles M. Seay

Camera: Unknown

Cast: Barry O’Moore, Julian Reed, John Sturgeon

Run Time: 15 Min

You can watch it for free: here.

A Christmas Accident (1912)

This short from Edison Studios may be the schmaltziest of the early silent Christmas movies I’ve reviewed this year, but I also found it to be emotionally effective and enjoyable to watch. It establishes a long-standing trend of the Christmas special with the basic plot of “a curmudgeonly old person learns the true meaning of Christmas.”

A mean old man.

A mean old man.

The movie begins by establishing the two neighboring resident-families of a duplex. On one side is a poor but happy family with a lot of children. On the other, a grizzled old man and his wife. The old man gets angry when the children play on his side of the back yard, or play with his dog. The poor family puts up with his abuse and remains positive. One day, a grocery order for the old couple is delivered to the family by accident. The mother cooks up the roast before the mistake is discovered, and when they offer to return the food, the old man refuses on principle. The wedge grows still deeper when the old man finds his dog dead. On Christmas Eve, the family is doing its best to celebrate with the means available, although the children must share a doll and there is no bird for the dinner. The old man is returning from the store with a turkey, but is driven, snowblind, into the wrong apartment. He is welcomed by the family as a guest, and they invite him and his wife to dinner. Embarrassed, he offers them the turkey and is charmed by a gift from the eldest girl.

A happy family.

A happy family.

I don’t usually worry about “spoilers,” but I’m leaving that final moment a bit vague because the gift from the child is the emotional “punch” that makes this movie work. If you can watch it without even a few tears…well, you have more emotional control than I do anymore. There seems to be some dispute about who directed: the “A Christmas Past” DVD credits Bannister Merwin and imdb and other online sources say it was Harold M. Shaw. Since Edison didn’t credit its directors at all at the time, this may be uncertain. The film is fairly typical – sequential editing, stationary camera, all done in medium-shot, etc. A final close-up allows us to read the note on a Christmas gift, but there are no faces shown in close-up, even where it would accent emotional situations. I did think it was an interesting (today untypical) choice to have the connection made between the mean old man and the eldest daughter, rather than the smallest and cutest available child. This may reflect a more realistic attitude or just the difficulty of getting small children to perform on cue.

Christmas Accident2Director: Uncertain (see above)

Camera: Unknown

Cast: William Wadsworth, Augustus Phillips

Run Time: 15 Min

You can watch it for free: here.

A Christmas Carol (1910)

I don’t know for certain whether this was the first adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic tale to the screen, but certainly it is the oldest I’ve seen. It wouldn’t surprise me if a British filmmaker had beaten the Americans to the punch, but this version is directed for Edison by J. Searle Dawley, the same man who brought us “Frankenstein” in the same year and directed D.W. Griffith’s performance in “Rescued from an Eagle’s Nest.”

Christmas CarolMarc McDermott chews the scenery as Ebenezer Scrooge, a tight-fisted miser without a friend in the world. We see him berate Bob Cratchit (played by Charles Ogle) at his office before he rudely receives and then turns out petitioners from a charitable society and his own nephew. He yells at Cratchit for leaving early on Christmas Eve, then goes home himself. He is confronted by the transparent face of the deceased Jacob Marley on his door knocker. Then, as he prepares for bed Marley comes to warn him that he needs to change his ways or be condemned, as he is. The “Spirit of Christmas” (singular) shows him images of his past, present, and likely future. The images of the past are quite detailed and show a young Scrooge in happier times, the present is limited to images of Cratchit’s family and his nephew’s party, and the future shows him a tombstone which reads: “Ebenezer Scrooge, He Lived and Died Without a Friend.” Scrooge awakes the next morning to children caroling at his doorstep and throws money at them. He meets the charitable society people and hands them bills. He goes to find his nephew and makes him his business partner. And he brings him and his fiancé over to Bob Cratchit’s, where he pretends to be furious, then surprises the family with a huge goose. Scrooge and nephew are invited to dinner and everyone is happy.

Christmas Carol1Like many movies of this period, the success of this one largely depends upon one’s familiarity with the story. Fortunately this story is as familiar today (especially after its many screen versions) as it was then. I thought McDermott did a great job of conveying the necessary emotions: meanness at the beginning, then fear and remorse, followed by the jolly pranksterism of his reformed self. We never got to hear, or read in Intertitles, his famous “Bah, humbug” line, but he makes up for it by curtly dismissing his visitors with a bow. At times, it looks like he might hit poor Cratchit with his cane, he’s so furious about him leaving early on Christmas Eve. We do see Tiny Tim, but only briefly. We see him limping with a crutch, but there isn’t much emphasis on him as a point of interest for Scrooge or Cratchit. We only get one ghost, but at least all aspects of the story are retained in the short run time.

Christmas Carol2The ghostly effects are probably the part of this movie that interest most viewers today (and possibly at the time as well). They are accomplished through multiple-exposure, and required fairly precise editing and staging techniques to work. Still, for 1910 they are hardly innovative; Georges Méliès had done for more complex multiple exposures well before this. They do work well enough for the story, however. The other question they raise is whether I should count this as part of my history of horror, always a tricky question in terms of this story, which is both warm hearted and filled with horrific imagery. Because fright plays such a major role in the story arc (it’s the whole reason for Scrooge’s change), I’m labeling it as such.

Christmas Carol3

Director: J. Searle Dawley

Camera: Unknown

Cast: Marc McDermott, Charles S Ogle, Viola Dana, Carey Lee

Run Time: 10 Min

You can watch it for free: here (no music).

The Night Before Christmas (1905)

This is a 1905 Edison release with clearly seasonal intent from Edwin S. Porter, based loosely on the famous poem, much of which appears in the Intertitles.

Night_Before_Christmas_1905We open on Santa feeding his reindeer, then going inside to labor over toys in a crude woodshop. There is no sign of any Elves or “helpers” present, and it appears Santa must work backbreaking hours on each toy to produce it by hand. We then see the interior of a middle class home with a large family. There is a brief ritual in which the kids appear to write their wishes to Santa and throw them in the fireplace, then all the children run upstairs for their stockings to hang. The smaller ones are helped by the parents and a servant, possibly their nurse. Then they are led upstairs and the parents clear the room for the presents that will appear. The next sequence is in the children’s room, where the excited kids keep getting out of bed and causing the nurse to come back in. Eventually, they break out into a pillow-fight. Now we see Santa again, he goes through a big book with first names written in it, putting check marks next to some, and crossing others out (I noticed he laughed especially hard when he came to my name and crossed it out). He loads up his sleigh and there is an “effect” sequence in which we see a tiny model sleigh with eight reindeer dash across the (painted) countryside, evidently drawn by a string. They do very little flying, but do manage to get to the top of the house at the end. Now we switch back to live-action and Santa throws the bag of toys down the chimney before descending himself. He emerges in the middle-class dining room we saw before, and deposits toys in all the stockings, sometimes checking the letters in the fireplace. He then waves his arms and lots of bigger tows and decorations appear. He makes his signature wink, and goes up the chimney, just before all the kids run downstairs and eagerly start grabbing toys. The movie ends with a close-up on Santa with his finger beside his nose, and the words “Merry Christmas” at the bottom of the screen.

Night Before ChristmasNo doubt this was a successful movie in its day, with familiar material convincingly brought to life through simple storytelling techniques. The reindeer-sleigh sequence hasn’t held up terribly well, although its use does seem to add a kind of Méliès-charm to the whole thing (Méliès would’ve made them fly, I bet). The shots are static and scenes are edited in sequence. The one somewhat odd piece is the pillow fight, which isn’t in the original poem (indeed, supposedly “not a creature” should be “stirring”). Pillow fights were, interestingly enough, a fairly common subject at Edison, where they were seen to supply a certain slapstick humor to family fare, so I suppose Porter felt it would be appropriate to put one in here. My thought, as the pillows flew apart and feathers went everywhere, was that Santa should cross these naughty kids off his list!

Director: Edwin S. Porter

Camera: Edwin S. Porter

Cast: Unknown

Run Time: 9 Min

You can watch it for free: here (no music) or here (with music)

A Trap for Santa (1909)

Trap_for_Santa_ClausWith Christmas coming at the end of his first year working for Biograph, D.W. Griffith released this one-reel seasonal movie with a heartwarming ending and a hint of social message. It shows the level that he had already achieved in terms of storytelling and film technique.

A family in want.

A family in want.

A family is destitute, and the situation grows bleaker as the father (Henry B. Walthall), unable to find work to feed his children, turns to drink in order to forget his worries. The mother (Marion Leonard) tries to make the most of the situation, but she scolds the father when he comes in drunk and wakes the children. Desperate, he leaves the house, fearing that he may be a worse influence on his own children if he stays. The bartender (Mack Sennett) at his usual dive doesn’t appreciate it when he tries to sleep on the table , and throws him out into the cold. The mother tries to find work, but is turned away from the employment agency. When she returns home, she finds that the hungry child she left there alone has eaten their last crusty loaf of bread. Then, some men arrive with some good news: her aunt’s estate has been settled at last, and she is the inheritor of a small fortune. She and the children move into a nice house with a maid (Kate Bruce). When Christmas rolls around, she explains to the kids that Santa will come in through the window, since there is no chimney, and the kids hatch a plan to “trap” Santa by leaving a basket covered by a picture frame right where he will step (it’s lucky he doesn’t break his neck!). Mom manages to get them to bed, but she sighs while trying on the Santa suit, wishing they had a father to play the role.

Trap for Santa1Then, in a typically Griffithian coincidence, the starving father now tries to break into the wealthy home to steal some money or at least food, but finds himself confronted by his estranged wife. The girls think their trap has worked, but mom convinces them to stay in bed. Immediately, the couple puts a new plan into action and the father puts on the Santa suit and acts like he is caught in the trap. Mother rouses the girls, who come out and dance with “Santa.” The family is reunited in love.

Santa is trapped.

Santa is trapped.

It’s a happy ending, and I found it emotionally effective, but after all, the drunk may continue being a drunk now that his wife has money. We can hope not, and clearly Griffith wants us to believe that he will reform, since it was only hunger and desperation that made him drink and (try to) steal. Billy Bitzer’s photography is effective and the camera is at least close enough to cut off the actors’ feet and give us some intimacy with the action. There are only a few camera set-ups, and these are static and set to mid-shot throughout, but the editing makes the story work better than a lot of the movies of the period. Where shots in 1909 generally followed one another sequentially, this movie allows for simultaneous action as the father first deserts the family, and then later when he is “trapped” by the children in the next room. Leonard somewhat overdid her acting, pointing and pantomiming to make sure that the audience knew what was said, but overall the performances were good. I was particularly pleased to see Gladys Egan (from “In the Border States”) show up as the daughter.

Director: D.W. Griffith

Camera: G.W. Bitzer

Cast: Henry B. Walthall, Marion Leonard, Gladys Egan, Kate Bruce, Mack Sennett, W. Chrystie Miller

Run Time: 15 Min

You can watch it for free: here (no mucic) or here (with music).

A Winter Straw Ride (1906)

Winter Straw Ride1With December progressing apace, it’s time I come back to my seasonally-oriented movie reviews. This one depicts outdoor activities of an earlier generation and seems a lot more fun than “A Holiday Pageant at Home.”

Winter Straw Ride2Two horse-drawn sleds are loaded up in front of a stationary camera. The first seems to contain younger girls, the second is apparently grown women; possibly the pupils and teachers of an all-girls school are going on a sleigh ride before the school holidays. The succeeding shots show the two teams of horses approaching the camera as the sleighs dash over the snow. In one shot, a group of boys pelt the riders with snowballs. The sleighs cross a bridge and the girls wave at the camera. They enter a field and one of them tips over when going through a snowbank, and every gets out to right it, with some assistance from nearby onlookers, then they are off again! The next scene shows the girls and women chasing a group of men and boys. They catch an older man that looks like Teddy Roosevelt and smush his face in the snow, then continue the pursuit. The rest of the film is the boys running and the girls pursuing them. At one point, they all slide down a snowbank, until it collapses under their weight, revealing that there was no hill underneath, it had been piled up by the wind. Finally, in the last scene, the boys come to a steep ravine they cannot climb out of. The girls and women catch up and the chase devolves into a massive snowball fight.

Walk softly and carry a big snowball, Teddy.

Walk softly and carry a big snowball, Teddy.

I was ready for a cup of hot cocoa after I watched this one! It was made by Edwin S. Porter for the Edison Manufacturing Company, presumably shot somewhere in New Jersey during the winter months. The snow doesn’t look that thick on the roads in some places, which may explain why they went into the fields. I don’t quite get why they abandoned the “straw ride” theme to run after boys for half of the movie, but Porter seems to have been fond of using the “chase” format to give some plot to his largely storyless vignettes. There is little camera movement, although the camera does pan a little as the sleighs go by and one critical pan takes place when they catch the man in the snow, and all editing is simply to put one scene after the other. Close-ups are essentially incidental, as the subjects run past the camera. Everyone in the movie seems to be having a good time, and when we can make out faces, they are smiling and laughing. This bit of snow sport seems much more in keeping with the spirit of Christmas than the rigid Victorian world of “Holiday Pageant” to me.

Winter Straw RideDirector: Edwin S. Porter and Wallace McCutcheon

Camera: Edwin S. Porter

Cast: Unknown

Run Time: 6 Min, 30 secs

You can watch it for free: here (No music, good image) or here (with music, poorer quality image).