Friends, not to the let the cat entirely out of the bag, but for the past week we’ve been working on a Holiday special for the Pop Culture Retrorama podcast – which should be released around the middle of the week. To get ourselves in the mood we have been watching all manner of retro seasonal specials over the last couple of weeks – that includes catching The RiffTrax Yule Log that was released in 2018 – a collection of clips from past offering as well as new skits. It was while watching this hilarious special though that I caught a few minutes of an animated Holiday cartoon that I had never seen before – something called Spunky the Snowman.
It didn’t take much time researching it online to find out some rather interesting information about Spunky the Snowman – which was originally released back in the late ’50s… sort of. It turns out that this particular animated short was actually a heavily truncated and dubbed Russian theatrical short film from 1955 entitled The Snow Postman. Spunky the Snowman was edited down from it’s original running time of nearly 20 minutes to a little over seven minutes – to better fit the running time of the Capt’n Sailorbird animated television series. A syndicated anthology show made up of animated shorts purchased from around the World, then edited and dubbed for American audiences – with the addition of brand new animated wraparound segments featuring the titular character of Capt’n Sailorbird as host.
As I found out online, The Snow Postman was directed by Leonid Amalrik for the Soyuzmultfilm animation studio – which was founded back in 1936 and I’m happy to say is still in operation today. The original short film is actually set on New Year’s Eve – with a group of children constructing a snowman to deliver a letter to Father Frost in the hopes they will receive a Holiday tree for their celebration. On the journey to deliver the letter, the ‘snow postman’ runs across some forest animals that want to steal the letter – so they can benefit from receiving the tree themselves.
Spunky the Snowman actually follows that basic story with minor changes here and there – relying on a narrator to move the story along. The real treat of this short in my opinion, is not the story but the beauty of the animation itself – something to help you get in the spirit of the Season.