The Little Girl Who
THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. 1905
Director: Edwin S. Porter

THE LITTLE GIRL WHO DID NOT BELIEVE IN SANTA CLAUS. 1907
Directors: Edwin S. Porter & J. Searle Dawley

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



The Night Before ChristmasOpening on an amusingly realistic image of Santa feeding hay to his reindeer, we then get to see him amidst the shavings & toys of his workshop.

Meanwhile somewhere else in the world a nice nuclear family is finishing off a feast, then hanging stockings o'er the fireplace before sending the children off to bed.

Title cards consist of fragments of the famous poem by Clement C. Moore, & to the lines about "visions of sugar plums dance in their heads" we see them not sleeping & dreaming of sugar plums, but having a pillow fight.

Back at bachelor Santa's rather lonesome house (no elves or helpers in sight), he's checking his list of naughty & nice.

With a positively precious piece of primitive animation we see Santa get in his sled & take off across the rugged polar ice, leaping into the air, & landing in a populace part of the world. This amazing sequence was achieved with miniatures & a diorama on a lazy-susan table, & it's so cool it's worth the whole show.

The Night Before ChristmasThe two or three toys we saw Santa had stockpiled would seem to be like Jesus's loaves & fishes, as it's enough for all the kiddies of the planet sans the naughties.

Out of the chimney he comes into the residence of our sample family, rich bastards who looked like who could've bought their kids the toys themselves.

Santa fills the stockings & unloads his magic bag with all sorts of wonderful crap to place around the tree. Next morning the kids find the toys & it's all so jolly.

Even though this is ultimately just nine minutes of moving christmas card, it's nevertheless amazing how complete cinematic fiction was right from the start, with Thomas Alva Edison producing, & Edwin S. Porter directing.

Porter was the director who causes audiences to jump out of their seats for fear the train was going to run them down in The Great Train Robbery (1903). For story, special FX, & characterization, it's an eye-opener to realize filmmakers were already getting it right in 1905.


The Little Girl Who Did Not Believe Inspired by the famous letter to the New York Sun that won the answer "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus," here we get the background story of The Little Girl Who Did Not Believe in Santa Claus (1907).

It's a lovely snowy day in the park with mom together with her son the little boy who believes in Santa, & his playmate, the little girl who does not believe. The boy pulls little Virginia on his sled.

The boy is from a wealthy family who live in a mansion with servants. Virginia is from a poor family that lives in humble one-room cabin with her granny.

When the children are playing at the boy's house in his room, he begins to read Virginia from his book "The Night Before Christmas." She takes exception to the premise that Santa Claus exists.

Later at her own humble home, we see that granny is suffering because it's the night before Christmas & Virginia will not have a thing come morning. The good little girl says her prayers & climbs into bed without even bothering to put a stocking over the fireplace.

The Little Girl Who Did Not BelieveAt the rich home meanwhile everyone including the maid hang their stockings before the boy who believes heads off to bed.

The boy has a dream that appears to the viewer above his bed. It's a dream of Virginia's impoverished Christmas Eve with her grandmother.

The boy wakes up & sneaks into the living room with a rope. He hides beside the staircase waiting for Santa. He nods off to sleep just before the jolly fat man comes out of the fireplace.

Some trick-film events are orchestrated as Santa materializes a magnificant Christmas tree & prepares some toys for the lad.

The boy suddenly wakes in the corner & sneaks up behind Santa with his rope & ties the fellow up, then holds him at toy gun-point. Santa on a leash tries to bribe the boy with bigger toys to let him go, but what the kid demands is a ride to Virginia's house in Santa's sled to be sure she gets good stuff too.

With Virginia asleep in the corner, Santa & the boy slip into the cabin & leave a pile of toys. The boy is not satisfied until a big Christmas tree is provided too. Soon Virginia awakens to a wonderful Christmas. Santa, amused by the game, carries the sleepy boy back to his own bed, & he'll never know whether or not his adventure was a dream.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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