Santa Claus (1959) - Santa Claus vs the Devil
Santa Claus (sometimes also known as Santa Claus vs. the Devil) is a 1959 Mexican fantasy film directed by Rene Cardona and co-written with Adolfo Torres Portillo. In the film, Santa works in outer space and does battle with a demon named Pitch, sent to Earth by Lucifer to ruin Christmas by killing Santa and “making all the children of the Earth do evil”. Original release date: November 26, 1959.
This dubbed and slightly edited English-language version was produced for U.S. release in 1960 under the direction of Ken Smith.
On December 24, Santa prepares for his yearly journey at his Toyland castle in space. He plays the organ while his children helpers from all over the world sing. Meanwhile, in Hell, Lucifer instructs his chief demon Pitch to travel to Earth and turn the children of the world against Santa (or else he will, as punishment, eat chocolate ice cream).
In a busy marketplace, Pitch attempts to convince five children to “make Santa Claus angry”: Lupita, a poor girl; Billy, the son of wealthy but negligent parents; and three troublemaking brothers. Pitch fails at convincing Lupita to steal a doll from a vendor, but succeeds in convincing the brothers to break a shop window. Santa’s child workers alert him to these events.
Unable to travel to Earth before nightfall on Christmas Eve, he instead uses equipment to watch Pitch and the children. One device allows him to view Lupita’s dream, induced by Pitch, in which she is tormented by life-sized dancing dolls who entice her to steal. He also listens as the three brothers plot to break into Billy’s home and steal his presents. They also attempt to write a letter to Santa claiming they have been good, but Santa’s voice informs them that he can see all that they do.
Merlin the wizard, Santa’s most trusted assistant, gives Santa a sleep inducing powder and a flower that allows him to disappear. He then retrieves a magic key that will open any door on Earth and prepares his mechanical reindeer. On Earth, the three rude boys plot to capture and enslave Santa. Meanwhile, Lupita and her mother say a prayer and Lupita says that she has wished for two dolls, one of which she will give to the Baby Jesus.
During Santa’s journey, Pitch makes several unsuccessful attempts to sabotage Santa’s delivery of toys in Mexico City. Santa succeeds in reuniting Billy with his parents, who had left him alone to go to a restaurant. On a city rooftop, the three brothers prepare to capture Santa and steal his toys. They see Santa’s sleigh in the sky and hurry indoors, only to find that they have received coal. After a failed attempt to steal the sleigh, Pitch succeeds in emptying Santa’s dream powder bag while Santa drops the disappearing flower.
Santa’s trip is nearly complete when he is chased by a vicious dog outside a large house in Mexico. Finding himself without the powder or the flower, he climbs a tree to escape the dog. Pitch appears and proceeds to wake the household and calls the fire department to report a fire at that location, so that Santa will soon be seen by many people. With dawn approaching, Merlin assists with a last-minute escape and Pitch is defeated after being doused with the spray from a fire hose.
Before returning to the castle Santa makes one final stop, leaving a doll for Lupita. His labors now completed, Santa steers the sleigh back to the castle, content in the knowledge that he has brought happiness to all of Earth’s children.
Directed by Rene Cardona
English direction Ken Smith
Written by Adolfo Torres Portillo and Rene Cardona
Produced by William Calderon
Narrated by Ken Smith
Cinematography Raul Martinez Solares
Edited by Jorge Bustos
Music by Antonio Diaz Conde
José Elías Moreno as Santa Claus
Pulgarcito as Pedro
José Luis Aguirre as Pitch (Precio)
Armando Arriola as Merlin
Lupita Quezadas as Lupita
Antonio Díaz Conde hijo as Billy
Ángel Di Stefani as Vulcan
Ken Smith as the narrator