In 1963, Santa Claus took a wrong turn in the Albuquerque desert and got held up in “The Great Toy Robbery” as presented by The National Film Board of Canada.
This short animation stars the world’s most-wanted good guy: Santa Claus. In this spoof of the Wild West, good triumphs over evil, but not before the evil robbers and their innocent victims have romped through some odd situations. The cartoon short is a spoof on “The Great Train Robbery” from 1903.
All the cliches of the Western are brought together in this delightful cartoon and Santa Claus is thrown in for good measure! It’s the day before Christmas and Santa is traversing cactus-dotted dry gulches, his mind intent on delivering a bag full of toys to all those eager little ones. But wait a minute! Three masked riders bear down on his sleigh, and the fun begins.
From behind the hills, mid-screen rides a small figure being propelled quickly forward. The film cuts to the familiar face of Santa Claus, or someone dressed as Santa Claus (we never find out which one it is), making his way swiftly across the desert sands. He is seated on a small sleigh with a large sack resting behind him, and the sleigh is pulled by a single reindeer. Like the cowboy’s horse earlier, this reindeer’s body is also quite round, as is Santa and his sack.
Santa glides past some cactus, and the film jumps to a trio of villains, also all round in body, atop their respective round horses as they watch Santa’s progress from atop a tall hill. The leader of the bad guys, as usual, clad all in black (he almost looks like Snidely Whiplash), spies on Santa Claus using binoculars. He first sizes up the reindeer and then shifts his gaze to the sleigh and its driver. Most especially, he sizes up the large sack of goodies on the sleigh. Happy with what he sees, the leader of the bad guys leads his men down the hill in a charge toward St. Nick. Santa, at first unaware of this, checks his watch, but then has to stop short when he sees that he is being held up by the robbers. He throws his hands in the air and tosses the sack to the bad guys (in a pretty great throw) after the lead villain seeks to make his point with his gun. The robbers ride off with the loot and Santa is left in the desert with his deer and sleigh, his arms still pointing upward into the air.
The Great Toy Robbery, Jeff Hale, provided by the National Film Board of Canada