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“Santa’s Surprise” Redux

Now, I’ve seen everything.

Film bootleggers have enjoyed distributing worn copies this Paramount Christmas cartoon for years, as the film fell into the public domain back in the 1970s. Apparently one enterprising entrepreneur decided to “colorize” the already in-color cartoon (original version above) and distribute it as if it were new. The characters were redrawn (or traced) badly, removing all their original appeal and charm. The colors were brightened and “airbrushed”; some shots are slightly restaged, with the whole film lightly re-edited – and all the racial stereotypes left intact! This copy (below), uploaded to You Tube, has a French track, though most of the songs are left in English.

Who did this and when? Anyone got the story on this “restoration”?

Santa’s Surprise (1947) is notable as the first “Little Audrey” cartoon; the character would replace Little Lulu at Paramount and would go on to become a popular Harvey comic book.

Oh, and whoever did this didn’t stop here. There’s a clip from another Paramount PD cartoon, Bill Tytla’s Hector’s Hectic Life (1948), on You Tube.

(Thanks, Luke Virgin)

  • Justin Delbert

    Leave well enough alone! That’s the worst way to restore a cartoon. And I thought DVNR was bad.

  • Kristjan

    Well, Bootleggers “restoration” looks more to me like….. Flash animation go horrible wrong. IF thats the correct desctrition but the worst showing in the “bootleg-restore” is how Little Audrey is handled yikes.

    I would be intrested to know what loonatic did this this clearly not the way to handle classic cartoons.

  • uncle wayne

    WHOA!! What a grotesque hybrid. Almost as bad as those ungodly re-made-in-“color” abortions from the 70s. Anyone remember those!??

    • dbenson

      I think they started back in the 60s when distributors were trying to make old B&Ws more salable to color-obsessed TV stations, although Ted Turner did try to revive the process in the 70s by “colorizing” old Popeyes (the results on Cartoon Network looked suspiciously like the old traced-and-repainted trash instead of the somewhat better computer stuff).

      • In an interview way back when, Turner said horrid Korean manual colorization of the B&W Popeye cartoons cost $750 per screen minute, and computer coloring, which was relatively new at the time, cost $1500 per screen minute. Even though computer-based colorization seems tailor-made for animated cartoons, would have preserved Fleischer’s 3D photographic backgrounds, and looks wonderful if the color choices are appropriate, Turner chose to employ hand-retraced butchery to save a few pennies.

      • Bobby Bickert

        And it would have been even better if the money spent on colorizing the B & W Popeyes had instead been used to RESTORE the Technicolor Popeyes.

    • Matthew Koh

      Well, not really.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I do. That was the awful period when some studio in Korea was cranking out color versions of Porky Pig, Betty Boop and the like all for the sake of placating whatever station demands were in place for color programming of any sort for the tots. We ended up with badly timed, ridged, off-model, surreal pieces of tripe that still makes their way on PD compilations today.

      • Bob

        I remember those “remade” Porky Pig “Looney Tunes” cartoons all too well. The “animation” was god-awful and so were the backgrounds.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Let alone moments when they couldn’t redraw a scene and it renders the cartoon incomprehensible (like the ending to “The Daffy Doc” not showing the artificial lung). Those were trying days.

  • Sleezy Exec

    Who’d a thunk, that with all the technological advancement we’ve made, they still couldn’t match up to the 1940’s techniques of creating animation.

    • Deaniac

      It’s not about the technology, it’s about the artistic skill. You could be without a computer and still fail to produce decent animation.

  • dbenson

    This ranks with those Asian remakes of Disney features in computer game (or gamey computer) graphics. Even if it were done well, there’s no aesthetic or commercial reason to do it.

  • Billy Polard

    This is crazy.

    I watch this cartoon every year. I am a huge fan of old Christmas cartoons. I love those dollar DVDs.

    I can’t find the purpose for this. Someone obviously took the time to make this. Why not just make an entirely different cartoon? This is so bizarre! Haha

  • Great find. Particularly when you can play both videos in the same window and watch them ride-along side by side… the character animation for Audrey in the original is extraordinary.

  • Larry_T

    Wow. That was horrendous. What a disgusting ‘interpretation’. It actually took something rather pleasant and endearing and made it cold and disturbing to watch.

    This is the very reason why no animation that gets produced these days has any true appeal or lasting power.

  • uncle wayne

    Well, actually…the Ted Turner (“color”) Popeyes are 20,000 leagues better than those “color” Boops from the mid-70s. OY, that was outch-y bad. In the above film…Audrey looks more oriental than the oriental!! A beautiful film (initially), tho. As would say Olive….”oh, yeah?….well i’ll take vanilla!”

  • Mark McD

    I remember back in the 80s interviewing for a job with a gallery that sold animation cels. They had plenty of inventory all labeled “from a color remake of a 1930’s Betty Boop (or Porky Pig or Krazy Kat) cartoon. Even those cels looked very very crude.

  • Valentin Moretto

    The “animation” was so repulsive, it would make a very nice Little Audrey creepypasta.
    From the look of it, it appears to have been “animated” in India — watch some Indian cartoons and compare.
    As to the french audio, my guess is that it was planned to be broadcast on a French-speaking channel, but got removed from the schedule in the last minute.

  • oh my GOD, those EYES. This is horrifying in every way. My favorite part is how they gave the Hawaiian girl a sweater to cover up, because I guess her indecency was more offensive than… anything else?? Maybe they just didn’t want her to be cold at the north pole. That was nice of them.

    • Inkan1969

      Interesting that the African kid still has big lips. I would’ve expected them to be PC and change that.

  • I admit it- I sent this to Jerry.

    It looks a little like a super-airbrushed “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” or one of those enhanced Disney animated feature covers.

    It also looks like the cutscenes from “Hotel Mario” and that Legend of Zelda CD-i game that are often shown in YouTube Poops.

    I just find it weird because that’s exactly a Santa’s Surprise remake would look like in my mind, especially if the remake’s going direct to video.

    Jerry, I suggest you PM the user and ask him about it.

  • Toast

    The character designs of the ‘remake’ has lead me to believe it has cliche, straight to DVD, animation movements. What I got is something similar to finishing an animated project in college without friends who can animate. You have to rely on people who don’t get it and only want to finish so they can get as far away from you as possible! Hahaha!

    Bad color remakes make me cry. It gave me a terrible impression on Fleischer Popeye cartoons, because those retraces were shaking uncontrollably. I was young and I had no idea there were original versions which were far superior.

  • I remember watching this when I was little during the Christmas season. This brings back a lot of happy memories. It’s like the Paramount version of Snow White.

    I can’t believe that there’s a horrible remake of this. And what’s worse is what they did to the little Dutch kid’s design.

  • This is some cool weirdness. It’s pleasantly awful.

  • John A

    So exactly HOW do all those kids get back home? That’s always bothered me.

  • fremgen

    Not going to comment on the quality of it. Just that is has to been the WEIRDEST, FREAKIEST, thing I think I’ve ever seen. Just wow, wow. Who, what, why, how, and wow.

  • BApe

    It looks like an adept with earlier versions of toon boom studio.

  • chippper

    Why does the first little boy sound about 50? Why does the first little girl (aside from Audrey) sound like a Pokemon? Why does the third little boy sound like he’s got something crammed up his nose?

  • “i personally did not do it. it was done by a small animation studio i was working for. why?”
    -The user who posted the video.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      That does not surprise me!

      • And that’s not all….
        oops sorry. I know it is bad, but i had worked on it so so harm putting your work online, right? not everything that you on youtube or any other site you see is a masterpiece…it was my learning curve. and experience. i am happy i was part of it.

        thanks for your feedback anyways

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Well whatever, that seems to be the norm nowadays for budding student animators I guess.