Thursday, December 01, 2005

Starting at the top: The Best Christmas Cartoon

See how I'm not beating around the bush with this one? Cutting straight to the finish line. No pussy-footing around with "favorite." Nope. The. Best.

MGM's 1939 classic "Peace on Earth." Directed by Hugh Harmon. The synopsis sounds bleak: Animals inherit the earth after the last two men kill each other in war. But there are so many cute little animals running around adding a spoonful of sugar to the pacifist message that the blow is softened. And the animation - so rich and lush - the old beautiful kind.

Created twenty years after the end of The Great War and just as the Second World War was cranking up in Europe, the cartoon focuses on two little squirrels asking their grandpa what "Peace on earth, goodwill toward men" means. What is peace? What is goodwill? What are men? The scene where the last two humans - knee-deep in trench mud and wearing gas masks - kill each other never fails to startle me.

"Peace on Earth" trivia:
  • The only cartoon ever nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize (Wow!)
  • First MGM cartoon to be nominated for an Academy Award (can't believe it didn't win)
  • Re-made/updated in 1955 by Hanna & Barbera under the title "Goodwill to Men" (also nominated for an Oscar).

Be on the lookout for this one. Turner Classic Movies has it scheduled for Saturday, December 24 at 11:30am. TiVo, if you must, or find the MGM Christmas cartoon collection on DVD.

We'll talk "favorite" Christmas cartoons later (and they are legion . . . ).


Anonymous said...

The best Christmas cartoon is so totally that South Park mpeg. Yeah, I know, but come ON. How can you not laugh?

Barring that, I have to go with Heat Miser/Cold Miser.

petercmoore said...

Oh, yeah - I agree with "Nobody" - anything with Mr Hankey has got to be a Christmas, er, bonus-type-thing.

Haven't seen the toon you refer to. Over here we get Raymond Brigg's fantasy "The Snowman" every sodding year. Never managed to sit through it myself.

I don't think I could possibly comment on 'best' Christmas cartoon, as I don't think they've made it yet (you wait - I'll remember one tomorrow!).

If we're talking Christmas films though...

Whose blog should we start THAT debate on?!

MaryB said...

Oh, you young whippersnappers with your South Park! Of course we love those rascals - but best? BEST? Oh ye of little animation discernment! And anyway, there's no arguing with my "best" - because I'm right. End of discussion.;-)

Now in a day or so, I'll open it up for "favorites" (there'll probably be several posts on those because I do love me holiday 'toons). Then we can list our South Parks and Ren & Stimpys and Bevis & Buttheads and Flintstones, etc. Don't jump the gun on me - hold those thoughts.

And PT - we have not yet begun the Christmas movie-fest rankings. Why, I have a special category just for all the Scrooge/A Christmas Carol films and 'toons alone! I figure there's enough fun for everybody on this one, so we can duke it out about Christmas films on everyone's blog. We've got 23 more days . . .

BTW, I like "The Snowman" - I've already watched it once this year. I'm a sap for that choirboy singing as the snowman and little boy fly to the North Pole. It ends kinda funny though - I don't think the snowman would have melted overnight. But, hey, it's a cartoon. And it's no "Peace on Earth."

Anonymous said...

Why, I have a special category just for all the Scrooge/A Christmas Carol films and 'toons alone!

I will fight unto my last breath for the George C. Scott, although I grew up surrounded by Alastair Sim fans. Thank heavens I married out of *that* household. Albert Finney, eh. Jean-Luc Picard, awfulawful.

There, see, now I don't even have to comment when that post comes up. Not that it'll stop me.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, Mary! "Peace on Earth" wins by a long shot and always will. Just wish I could find it on DVD! Lauren

Anonymous said...

Kiss saves christmas, hands down!!