The Adventure of the Wrong Santa Claus (1914) (part 2 of 3)
Now comes a scene where Mrs. Randall continues to tell Octavius something. I can’t exactly make out what. She touches his arm a lot and puts a finger to her lips to shush him.
The only thing she could possibly be saying is, “Don’t tell the children that Santa Claus is really you.” But that couldn’t be the case, because that would just be stupid. No one gets dressed in a Santa suit just to announce, “Hey, kids, it’s me, your parents’ bachelor friend Octavius, pretending to be Santa Claus because, you know, he doesn’t really exist. Oh, stop crying. You’re eleven years old, don’t tell me you didn’t suspect. How was he supposed to get from England all the way across the Atlantic in one night? You saw what happened to the Titanic. And now we’ll never find the Heart of the Ocean. What? The part about the Heart of the Ocean wasn’t real? Framing device! What the hell do you mean framing device? God, I need a vacation. How long until the Mirage gets built? Seventy-five years! Fine, I’ll stay at the Sands.”
Oh, I found the point of the scene. They give it away early, by putting up a title card telling us that Grace Randall is played by Elsie MacLeod, as if that information is going to help anybody. The aforementioned Grace Randall, Mrs. Randall’s sister-in-law, comes running in, happy to be joining the family for Christmas. And, fellas: she’s single. She meets Octavius in that lovely way that desperate spinsters meet rich, bald nerds eleven years their senior.
You know what, I’m not being fair. Herb Yost wasn’t a good-looking guy, but maybe that’s the point. Maybe he was working that look. He was bringing nerdy back—like some sort of ancient, prototypical Tina Fey.
Octavius is a little too excited to meet Grace. He actually starts stroking her hand. I realize this movie is supposed to be a comedy or, at least, not entirely serious. But nobody in all of human history has ever stroked the hand of a woman he just met unless, and this may in fact be the case, he was planning to kill her.