The Wrong Santa
Director: Charles M. Seay

Director: Bannister Merwin

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The Wrong Santa The full title of this one-reel silent film is The Adventure of the Wrong Santa Claus: An Adventure of Octavius -- Amateur Detective (1914). It's based on one of a series of stories by comic writer Frederic Arnold Kummer which appeared in the Christmas issue of the Pictorial Review.

This is one of several Octavius adventures starring Herbert Yost (though credited as Barry O' Moore). For another example of the series, see The Adventure of the Hasty Elopement (1914)

While reading the paper partaking of a breakfast of tea & pastry, Octavius is interrupted by his butler (Julian Reed) who has brought him a letter.

It's an invitation from his acquaintance Beertha Randall (Bliss Milford). She wants him to come to her family's holiday party, & to be prepared to play the role of Santa.

Octavius sets off at once to rent a Santa suit, then arrives at the residence of the Randall family with his new outfit in a suitcase.

The family gathers around the dinner table as the maid prepares to serve them. Meanwhile outside the house a burglar (John Sturgeon) is sizing up the place, & finding entry to the upstairs rooms.

The Wrong SantaBertha tells Octavius he'll find a Santa Claus outfit upstairs. Ah, so renting one himself was redundant.

When the burglar hears Octavius coming up the staircase, he hides in the closet. Octavius puts on his own Santa suit instead of the one provided, & is grinning ear to ear with joy of the occasion.

He looks so jolly dressed up but before he can leave the room, a second Santa steps out of the closet & bludgeons Octavius.

The thief then tries to sneak out of the house right in front of the family, but they waylay him to undertake his duties to the children. So he begins gathering up wrapped gifts in a basket, doubtless awaiting the moment he can obscond with them rather than pass them around.

Octavius meanwhile regains consciousness & finds himself locked in the room. By the time he's let out by the children's pretty aunt Grace (Elsie MacLeod), sister of the father (Richard Neill), the family's presents are gone along with the fake Santa.

Octavius, always believing himself the finest of amateur detectives when he's no such thing, rushes out in search of the criminal. Both Santas hop a train & the game is on, of Santa vs Santa in public places, both Santas claiming the other is a harrassing thief.

When finally Octavius returns with the basket of gifts, they're the wrong ones, & he had been pursuing the wrong Santa the whole time.

Well, the family may have lost most of their presents, & another unmet family as well, nevertheless, once Octavius is out of his Santa suit, he's able to do some billing & cooing with the pretty aunt, & if all's well with him, that's well enough.

A Christmas Accident From a story by Annie Eliot Trumbull A Christmas Accident (1912) opens on a summery day in front of a duplex, with children playing outside. The father (Augustus Phillips) comes out to check on the kids.

A grumpy white-bearded next door neighbor (William Wadsworth) tells the father to keep his children on his side of an invisible barrier he is imagining divides the area in front of the duplex.

The geezer's wife (Jenny Bechtel) shakes her head apologetically, & the father carries the younger of his two daughters indoors.

The next scene shows the bearded sourpuss indoors arguing with his gentle wife. This is shown in contrast to the poor family next door who seem very satisfied with life, the five children especially well treated.

The crabby old fellow sets out on a walk & stops by the grocer's to order a few things to be delivered to his residence. This gets delivered to the wrong side of the duplex, & that evening the old man demands his roast beef to no avail.

When the mistake is sorted out, the family next door is very apologetic, but the young wife (Ida Williams) had thought the delivery had been sent by her own husband, & she went ahead & cooked the roast.

A Christmas AccidentThe table is already set for the family of seven, but the eldest child, Cora (Edna Hamel), goes to fetch the prepared roast beef to return to its rightful purchaser.

The old man refuses to take the food back. He won't even take a token cupcake from young Cora, but slaps her hand away & storms back in his residence.

Not long after, the old man's dog is found dead, & he insists the neighbors killed it. When this new round of accusation is over, little Cora sits alone beside the corpse of the neighbor's dog & weeps.

An error of the film is that sometimes the family of seven is shown to be living on the right-hand side of the duplex, sometimes on the left-hand side. This is probably from getting some of the scenes recorded onto paper negatives upside down, & no one has since bothered to correct modern copies.

The film doesn't mark time well, but a few months have passed. The family will be experiencing a minimal Christmas, but they are so happy all the time anyway. The children hang up their stockings before beddy-by (nothing is ever put in them), but then peak through the curtains as their mom & dad set up a tiny tattery Christmas tree with small gifts under it, all atop the dining table.

A Christmas AccidentTheir parents spot them taking their sneak-peak, so it's decided to have their Christmas right then & there. All the kids get their little presents & everyone's very happy, lamenting only that "Santa forgot the Christmas turkey."

They all look sad & hungry for a second, then they revert to sparkly happy-happy joy-joy simpletons. They all sit around the table with the Christmas display on it, & dad begins reading them a story, with narry a thing to eat.

They can feast upon their imaginations as their dad reads the story & the children envision Santa standing nearby laughing.

Outside is a major snowstorm. The crabby neighbor has been on an errand to the butcher. He comes back in his heavy coat & white-bearded face. The storm is blinding so he enters the wrong door & the five children momentarily mistake him for Santa, & are grateful for the Christmas turkey.

He lets them have the turkey, which scarcely seems in his nature, but a spark of pity seems finally to have overcome him. Cora the eldest little girl brings out a present she has secretly set aside for him. It's her own beloved teddy bear which she is re-gifting & on which she has placed a tag, "To Mr. Gilton because his doggie died." Well shit, who wouldn't be mellowed out by that!

Mrs. Gilton from next door just happens to enter at that moment without any excuse for her arrival, though it's perfect timing for them all to live happily ever after.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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