Santa Claus: The Movie --

Richard reviews the DVD!

Well, fellow Elves, having linked to three separate reviews of the Santa Claus: The Movie™ DVD, and having joined the ranks of those who actually own a DVD player, it is now time, I think, to put my two cents in concerning the SCTM DVD. And I have to tell you: indeed it does rock! To a certain degree, perhaps, but rock it does, nonetheless. Understand, we're talking about Starz Home Entertainment's spectacular widescreen version, where you get to see more of the film because, naturally there IS more to see.

The widescreen transfer is as pristine as you could hope it to be, and the sound and picture quality do come through. Most THX®-approved DVDs from independent labels are not as up to snuff as one would like them; Starz, however, knows the power of film restoration, and, as a result, knows how to use it.

The talent bios, as presented amongst the Special Features, are limited to a mere two: Dudley Moore and director Jeannot Szwarc. Team Starz earns points, however, for mentioning Dudley's subsequent struggles with PSP --- which, of course, would later take his life in May 2002. The bio even reproduces most of Dudley's September 29th statement on his diagnosis. As for Jeannot's bio, it does mention that, since directing Santa Claus: The Movie™, he has made several additional features, and has even made a long overdue return to directing for series television in the U.S.

One story that's not told here, by the way, concerns one of Jeannot's early features: the sci-fi creature opus Bug (1975). "I told [producer] William Castle, I am never gonna go see a movie named Bug," Jeannot recalls. "And Paramount released it the same day that Universal put out Jaws!" Ironically, of course, Jeannot's next picture proved to be --- you guessed it --- Jaws 2! Still, at least, Jeannot Szwarc knows how to wield his own magical sense of directorial humor with every film he takes on; and again, we here at hope someone decides to give Jeannot another chance at directing an American-made movie soon.

About that hidden Easter egg we mentioned elsewhere in this website: It's a previously unseen point-of-view outtake with the reindeer, depicting the flight from the Toy Tunnel. I imagine the idea was to allow you to experience Santa's sleigh lifting off, by simply using your own imagination.

And yes, "Santa Claus: The Making of The Movie" is here too, uncut, and as beautiful now, as it was when it originally aired in the U.S. on ABC on Christmas Eve, 1987. Which brings me to another interesting tidbit: pay particular attention to the International trailer. It is narrated by the voice of Ted Maynard --- who narrates the making-of documentary as well. It was Maynard's second go-round as the voice of Salkind television; The Making of Superman: The Movie and The Making of Superman ® II were narrated by Ernie Anderson, the legendary voice of ABC ("...on The Looooove Boat!"); with Al Matthews taking over those duties on The Making of Superman ® III (actor Matthews is briefly seen in an early Superman III sequence portraying a Fire Chief).

The commentary with Jeannot and Scott Michael Bosco is revealing, too. Among the stories told here is how Sheena Easton ended up singing Christmas All Over the World --- believe it or not, they almost got Paul McCartney to sing the song!

Team Starz could have done a better job with the chapter titles, though --- that is my one and only quibble with the film itself, but of course, that's just me being incredibly picky! The movie itself is still packed with all the wonder, all the drama, all the excitement Salkind fans have always come to expect --- and you couldn't ask, no doubt, for anything less!

As the making-of documentary concludes, the film's principals are asked the inevitable: Do you believe in Santa Claus? Why, even Alexander Salkind himself has an answer to that question --- but you'll have to check out the documentary to find out what that answer is!

So in summary, the Santa Claus: The Movie™ DVD rocks! The widescreen format lets you see more of the movie, as the filmmakers originally intended; the sound and picture quality shine through; and even though the extras are few, they bear precious gifts that reveal heretofore unknown secrets .... which, after all, is ultimately what film preservation is all about. Let's hope that somebody decides to do the right thing and give this DVD a really good and really sound restoration process somewhere down the road!

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