1 October 1999 | Ron Oliver
Holiday Short Subject
This hard-to-find little film was MGM's Christmas Short Subject for 1931 and it's a lot of fun for old movie buffs.
The plot (Jackie Cooper wants to give a Christmas dinner to his neighborhood pals and his friends at the studio lend a hand) is a mere contrivance to show as many of MGM's top talent as possible in 9 minutes. Norma Shearer - as Thalberg's wife she was Queen of the Lot - gets the most screen time. The enjoyment is in trying to put the correct moniker to all the others as they appear - most for only a few seconds.
In order of their appearance, here is a complete listing of the uncredited celebrities: Jackie Cooper, Norma Shearer, Jimmy Durante (dressed as Santa), Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery, Polly Moran, Reginald Denny, Clark Gable, Charlotte Greenwood, Lionel Barrymore, Leila Hyams, Cliff Edwards, Ramon Novarro, Marion Davies, and Anita Page.
Often overlooked or neglected today, the one and two-reel short subjects were useful to the Studios as important training grounds for new or burgeoning talents, both in front & behind the camera. The dynamics for creating a successful short subject was completely different from that of a feature length film, something akin to writing a topnotch short story rather than a novel. Economical to produce in terms of both budget & schedule and capable of portraying a wide range of material, short subjects were the perfect complement to the Studios' feature films.