A Year in Shorts Day 41: "Jolly Little Elves"
Our Year in Shorts continues its countdown to Christmas, this time with the obscure 1934 short Jolly Little Elves! That was, admittedly, not much of an introduction. But in my defense, this isn’t much of a film!
Despite the fact that the title contains both the words “Jolly” and “Elves”, today’s film (directed by Manuel Moreno and Bill Nolan) has nothing to do with Christmas. It is, instead, a loose adaptation of the fairy tale The Elves and the Shoemaker. And it's just awful.
Part of Walter Lantz's "Cartunes Classics" series (if that doesn't sound like a z-grade "Looney Tunes" ripoff, I don't know what does), The Elves and the Shoemaker is nine minutes of pure aggravation. The voice acting is obnoxious, the animation is ugly and overly detailed in the worst possible way (sort of like a bad Don Bluth film), and to top it all off it has not only has a blackface gag it also contains horribly offensive Jewish caricatures! It isn't often that the films we cover here are so deeply offensive to two separate communities. Aren't we lucky?
Still, The Elves and the Shoemaker isn't the worst short in the world. Some of the sight gags are mildly amusing, and the song the elves sing about doughnuts is undeniably catchy. But it's a pretty terrible short regardless, and I wouldn't recommend anyone try to sit through it. Just read the original fairy tale instead. It's a lot shorter and presumably less racist!
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