Film: 3764

Music | 1950 | Sound | B/W


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A joyful and celebratory musical Christmas show which (Film Studies alert!!) structurally interacts images of Mantovani conducting his large string-based orchestra with images traditionally associated with Christmas.

A voice-over narrates a sentence in Spanish over a black screen. A spotlight highlights a conductor who is standing at a sheet-music stand with a baton in his hand, the room is otherwise darkened except for an illuminated and superimposed "Mantovani" signage which moves forward towards the camera as a violin begins to play, joined swiftly by the whole orchestra in a triumphant opening - as the lights are raised the orchestra is revealed on what is presumably a studio set for a theatrical stage - a large orchestra of approximately 50 men dressed in black tuxedos and bow ties sitting on ascending rows - the string section to the left and the brass instruments on the right, the conductor turns towards the camera and smiles as he raises his arms.

Applause offscreen as the conductor - Mantovani (M) a middle-aged Latino looking man wearing a black tuxedo and matching bow tie - acknowledges the hand-clapping in the direction of the camera - he stands on a plinth in front of the orchestra, facing them as the music begins with a drum role - violins, cellos and trumpets soon follow. Through a pair of glass doors, with a snow-covered mountain in the background, Father Christmas in the traditional Western outfit of red tunic and a large white beard, appears on a sleigh and walks through the doors towards the camera, accompanied by the sound of bells on the soundtrack - applause greets his entrance. Shot of the orchestra who are playing a joyous yet gentle and innocent rendition of "Jingle Bells". Shot of approximately 18 violinists playing the motif in a more legato, or gliding, manner and in unison. Close-up shot of M. at his stand swaying to the music with a baton in his right hand and with his eyes occasionally closed. Shot of violinists. Shot of M. as he directs the orchestra, using his hand movements, to reduce the volume of their rendition of "Jingle Bells" and to pick up the tempo - his non-verbal request is responded to and lead by the woodwind section. Frontal shot of the entire orchestra and M. Close-up of M. who is noticeably enjoying the twists and turns of the music - his torso is swaying and his moving arms signal changes which brings the song to an end - he stops and takes a refined head bow in the direction of the camera and applause is heard.

Close-up of M. from behind, the lights are raised to reveal the orchestra - M. lifts his arms in preparation, steadies the players as the applause dies down and beckons that they begin to play. Shot of cellists and violinists strumming their instruments lightly. Close-up of M. 's calm and introspective face as he raises his left index finger to encourage quiet playing from the orchestra members. A shot of the string section - some of the violinists tenderly play the melody of a carol in a classical style which counterpoints with the strumming of the other string instrumentalists.

Close-up of M. Image of the string section - the slow movement of their bows show that the violinists are playing the melody in unison. Close up of four musicians - in the front, one clarinet player, a flautist and a bassoonist, whilst a horn player sits behind them - only the flute and the clarinet are being played, providing lower range notes in the musical score. Shot of a wall light - the camera then pans left to right down onto a four children (two boys and two girls) asleep in bed together as the non-diegetic orchestral music continues to be heard. An outside shot of deer running along snow-covered ground. Santa Claus is on his sleigh as it pulls away. Close-up of Father Christmas' face - smiling as he races through the snow. (All future images accompanied by music)

Shot of an imitation plastic Father Christmas - presumably outside a department store at night. A kinetic children's toy which resembles a miniature merry-go-round - the camera pans to reveal a line of children dressed in thick woollen coats and hats, standing in a line outside the store's window, looking in silent appreciation at the toys inside. Close-up image of the toy. Close-up of a small girl, pan to another one. More detail of the toy is revealed, and dancing wooden puppets enter the frame. Close-up of a young girl with a look of awe on her face as she gazes at the objects in the window. Stuffed toy animals - including teddy bears - are seen 'acting' in a recreation of a circus arena. Close-up of a small boy whose nose is squashed against the window, pan to a young girl. Teddies swinging on swings in the circus spectacle. Close-up of a young girl jumping with delight at the toys in front of her. A mechanical doll walks across a counter within the shop, dressed in a pale dress and bonnet and approximately the size of a two year old. Close-up of a boy and girl smiling - the boy is partially hiding behind her as he looks directly into the camera. Another boy points to something in the window and makes a comment to the women who is standing beside him. A mechanical toy bug. A three or four year old black child appears uncomfortable as he sits on Father Christmas' lap. An illuminated waving plastic Father Christmas. An illuminated star on top of a Christmas tree. Shot of three girls looking up in amazement - the area is lit briefly by the flash of a camera bulb. A Christmas tree stands beside a large decorative fountain. An elderly woman kneels down to place a lit candle at the base of the tree. Looking in through the window of a home at a Christmas tree. Close-up of hanging mistletoe, camera pans down to show an elderly couple in an embrace. An old man sits against an external wall. The camera pulls out from the flashing bulbs on a Christmas tree to reveal "A Merry Christmas" written in the condensation on a window - the music has a slower tempo. Shot of orchestra - M. facing the camera, bring this musical segment to a close - applause offscreen.

Shot of a Church steeple - the roof is covered with snow and an organ is heard on the soundtrack. The music is reminiscent of a gentle lullaby - slow tempo, melodic and the strings are prominent. Image of carved wooden figures. Close-up image of the figures which depict the Nativity play. Close-up of carved Cherub face. Darkened silhouettes of a two-deep standing choir - the lights are raised to reveal boys in church attire of white smocks and long black skirts. Close-up of young boy as they start to sing - high pitched, their voices have not yet broken - the camera pans form right to left onto other individual choristers in the front row - singing with accompaniment from what is presumably a church organ. Their voices reach high brief notes in the melodic rift - vocals in English - before ending. Shot outside the church overlooking the graveyard - the organ continues to play.

In a darkened room the only lit object is the conductor's plinth - M. walks from the right acknowledging the applause. - the orchestra start to play and the lights are then raised to reveal them, playing a slow tempo rendition of "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" which is dominated by the string section. Shot of the string section. Shot of the entire orchestra. Father Christmas stands next to a Christmas tree and in front of a five foot poster advertising 'Mantovani' - he starts to hand out gifts to a steady parade of children and women, and members of the orchestra two of who he presents with miniature copies of their instruments, and they both leave the frame with bemused faces as they pretend to play their new toy instruments. Close-up of M. in darkened surroundings, flipping the sheet music over and conducting the orchestra into a higher range - his emotive arms try to coax more feeling from his orchestra. Shot of the orchestra - the sound of the violins is joined briefly by brass instruments as the song reaches its climax. The four instrumentalists pictured earlier start to quietly steer the song to its end. The full orchestra - the violins ascend an octave and conclude the music - M. turns away from the orchestra to receive the offscreen applause.

Close-up of M. smiling - he turns away from the camera, raising his arms. The orchestra starts to play another piece of arranged music - at first only the strings play followed by a single muffled cornet which accompanied by a guitar and brushed drum set which softly play the beat - the strings play again and as the lights fade the solo cornet is heard on the soundtrack - only M. is lit as the orchestra ends the musical piece in darkness.

The orchestra is playing "Peace on Earth" which becomes ecclesiastical in sound as the brass instruments join in - the sound opens up and encompasses the auditorium - the short musical interlude ends abruptly.

"Paul and Peta Page" programme cover - hand-drawn image of puppets.

A puppet dressed in the uniform of the British Armed Forces division of the 'Foot Guards' - a red tunic and black bearskin hat - appears into view, being manipulated to look as though he his playing the large drum attached to his side - he is joined by two other puppets dressed identically but holding flutes to their mouths who start to dance to the uptempo marching song played by the orchestra in a joyful, manner - these puppets are replaced by a steady parade of other puppets, such as two jack-in-the-boxes, a clown and four girls who dance to a repeated four note motif in a energetic style as the music builds to a crescendo before ending.

A shot of the full orchestra who start to play a brief rendition of Tchaikovsky's 'Swan Lake' in a powerful, attention-grabbing fashion. Two people dressed in ballet-inspired Royal outfits - presumably depicting A Prince and Princess - enter a sparse set and sit, with their backs to the camera, in two throne-like chairs which are in the foreground of the image - the music has a more haunting feel to it as seven women dressed in floating white dresses and holding feather fans begin to dance in a ballet style to the music, twisting and turning their bodies, circling each other in front of the Royal couple, and for a short moment the Prince leaves his throne to dance with each woman in turn. The string section is shown as they guide their instruments up the notes of an octave, reaching a crescendo. Close-up of M. whose hand movements are more forceful than seen previously as the music's emotions build. The string section - the players are concentrating on their sheet music as the music grows in excitement, and the camera pulls back to show every member of the orchestra playing. A side on shot of part of the brass section - the music emanating from their instruments is prominent on the soundtrack, and the extending movement of the trombones demonstrate how each player is working hard as the music reaches its climax. Close-up of M. looking directly into the camera - the rhythm of his hands is in unison with the strong beat - as the final two notes are played, M. points his baton into the camera lens and smiles with a look of satisfaction and pleasure. The full orchestra - M. turns around on the plinth and bows to the applause as the musicians rest their instruments on their knees.

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