Christmas movies from 100 years ago are a little bit creepy. Let’s just get that out of the way. They were all in black and white (obviously) and many were silent shorts and not feature length films. It’s also interesting to see how the figure of Santa Claus has changed over the years from a slim, frail old main to the jolly and plum man we see in movies today.
Another wonderful thing about Christmas movies from 100 years ago is that you are taken back to a much simpler time. Back then the only presents you were likely to receive were gifts of food. Stockings were stuffed primarily with pieces of fruit and maybe a small piece of candy, if you were good. We’ve grown so used to seeing lavish gifts under the tree that it’s odd to see just one or two small trinkets.
Let’s all take a cinematic trip back to the olden days with the Top Christmas movies from 100 years ago.
The Adventure of the Wrong Santa Claus (1914) – In this short film, subtitled An Adventure of Octavius, Amateur Detective, a man trying to pass himself off as Santa Claus steals all the children’s Christmas presents. It’s up to Detective Octavius to recover them before the children wake up on Christmas morning.
A Christmas Carol (1910) – There are many versions of the Charles Dickens holiday classic. This one from 1910 comes from none other than Thomas Edison. The short film stays true to Dickens’ tale. The day before Christmas, Ebeneezer Scrooge is shown refusing to contribute to the Charity Relief Committee. He is mean to his employee, Bob Cratchit, and cross with his nephew, Fred. At home that evening, Scrooge receives a ghostly visit from his former business partner, Jacob Marley. Scrooge will receive visits from the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. And unless he changes his evil ways, he will end up dead and alone. As with the original tale, alls well that ends well.
The Little Girl Who Did Not Believe in Santa Claus (1907) – This sad Christmas movie from over 100 years ago is about a rich little boy who tries to convince his much poorer friend that Santa Claus exists. She doesn’t believe in him because Santa has never visited their house since they are so poor.
The Night Before Christmas (1905) – In this film, we are introduced to scenes using lines from the Clement C. Moore 1823 poem. Santa is shown feeding his reindeer as he finishes his work up in the North Pole. Meanwhile, in towns all over the world, children hang their stockings and prepare for his visit. Unable to sleep, they start a pillow fight. Santa is shown leaving the North Pole, entering the houses through the chimney, and leaving gifts. The next morning the children come downstairs to see their presents.
A Trap for Santa Claus (1909) – This four minute video shows children attempting to set a trap to capture Santa Claus. Instead, they end up capturing the father who had abandoned them, as he attempts to rob the house. Turns out he discovered that the mother had inherited a small fortune. Christmas movies from 100 years ago sure were depressing.
The Visit From Santa Claus (1898) – In this short film directed by George Albert Smith, slightly over one minute long, we see a maid preparing young children for bed. After turning off the lights we see Santa come down the chimney with a Christmas tree in hand. He fills the stockings that are hanging from the bed then quickly goes back up the chimney. The final scene is the children waking up, discovering Santa trying to make a quick exit, and trying to grab him by the legs before he can escape.
As a bonus, here are the top 5 Christmas movies from the past 50 years:
A Christmas Carol (2009)
Polar Express (2004)
The Family Stone (2005)
A Christmas Story (1983)
The top Christmas movies from 100 years ago are short but sweet. No movie soundtracks. No glaring technicolor. They are old fashioned and heart warming. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
By Mary Kay Love