I first saw this cartoon in 3rd grade in 1973 as part of a Christmas assembly in the school gymnasium, and I have been fascinated with it ever since. It would also get played on TV on Christmas mornings by one of the local affiliates for a few years, and I would study the film, completely transfixed with the story of the Wild West robbers who steal Santa Claus' sack. And then, one Christmas, "The Great Toy Robbery" disappeared from my life...
This is one of the funniest, most lovable and satisfying cartoons I have ever seen (and my animated experience is considerable). From the perspective of the American "sensibility", there is something decidedly off-kilter about a lot of Canadian animated films. The pace and timing can often seem too ponderous, too slow for American eyes, and this film is no exception. It could be the reason it has never really caught on here. But it is the pace of this film that makes it so delightful. Although under seven minutes long, it never hurries, and takes its time with its characters.
I heard that this came out on a Christmas tape a few years back, but by the time I tried to order it, the film seemed to have mysteriously vanished again. Maybe the Film Board of Canada will package it on DVD, not necessarily with other Christmas-related films, but on a set of neglected classics. I know Cartoon Network had their "O, Canada!" show a few years back, and it was a noble effort to promote the country and its animated output, but the network seemed to promote the show as though the title were a back-handed swipe, making it seem like "Look what those crazy Canucks are doing now!", though 90% of the films were far superior to the Seth MacFarlane tripe that they've been pushing on their audience for years.
All in all, a movie ripe for rediscovery...
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