We have a Holiday worthy Toon In for you today with the 1935 animated theatrical short entitled The Shoemaker and the Elves – which was originally released back on January 20th of ’35 but was re-released again on October 18th of 1951. It was part of Columbia Pictures Color Rhapsody – an animated series of shorts that was started in 1934 and lasted until 1949. The producer for the Color Rhapsody shorts was Charles Mintz, that name should be familiar to you Walt Disney buffs as he was the one chiefly responsible for taking Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and luring all of Disney’s animators away at the same time. All but Ub Iwerks I should add – who stayed loyal to Walt Disney – eventually Mintz would lose control of Oswald himself to Woody Woodpecker creator Walter Lantz. The subject of our Toon In today though, The Shoemaker and the Elves, was directed by Arthur Davis – a well known animator and animation Director that got his start working at the Fleischer Studios and might have been the first in-betweener in the industry.
Arthur Davis would have a very, very long career in animation – jumping from the Fleischer Studios to the Charles Mintz studio, working on many Color Rhapsody offerings such as 1938’s The Little Match Girl which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Subject. Davis would eventually leave to join the Warner Bros. animation department where he worked on Looney Tunes as well as Merrie Melodies animated shorts. Arthur would leave Warner Bros. and find work at Walter Lantz Productions – before jumping over to Hanna-Barbera and finally DePatie-Freleng Enterprises where he would direct Pink Panther cartoon shorts.
The Shoemaker and the Elves is a simple story but one with quite a bit of heart as you will see for yourself. An orphan boy caught out in a snowstorm tries to find shelter with the people of a small town – having no luck until an elderly shoemaker takes pity on the waif. For his kindness the king of the Elves decides to reward the elderly man while he and the boy sleep – filling his shop with all manner of shoes to sell. I have to warn you that near the end of the animated short there is sadly a bit of then common racism – it’s very brief but I felt I should give you a heads up on it.