The Little Lamb: A Christmas Story (1955)
Featuring Morris Ankrum, Maureen O’Sullivan
What it is: Live action Christmas story on a cartoon set
The shepherds’ search for a lost lamb leads to an encounter with an angel and then with the Christ child himself.
I featured my tirade on non-cartoons appearing on cartoon sets in my last review, so we’ll skip that and cut to the chase here. This cartoon bears a little similarity to another Christmas short on the same set, namely THE LITTLE CHRISTMAS BURRO. I didn’t review that short for the simple reason that outside of the talking animals (no longer in itself sufficient criteria for me to review a cartoon), nothing really fantastic happens; there are no miracles or angelic visitations during the sequence with the Christ child there, whereas this one features an angel’s appearance which causes the stormy weather to calm down. This short has a lower rating on IMDB that the BURRO short (which is a far more elaborate work), but I prefer this one because of its simplicity and directness; I’ve always had a problem with BURRO in that its central theme (the burro, despite trying to put his best hoof forward, is constantly admonished by its owners as being worthless) doesn’t really mesh well with the encounter with the Christ child at the end, and it’s as if the first 3/4 of the short is just a way to fill the running time. This one is considerably shorter, but it does have its problems. One is that the grouchy shepherd’s change of heart feels a little bizarrely forced, and despite the fact that there is concern the child may be freezing in his flimsy clothes, the best they can do is give him a lamb to lay down beside them instead of giving him more clothes. But then, there would be no reason to give the lamb the center of attention it gets here.