Three very different men end up at a fancy dress shop where the owner (Fred Astaire) rents each of them a Santa Claus suit whilst offering some sage wisdom to each of them. For Stan (John Byner) a former chef who ended up a bum trying to hide from the mob he explains the costume won't change a bad guy into a good guy. For teacher Bob (Gary Burghoff) he tries to encourage to propose to the girl he loves despite the fact she is dating a wealthy man. And then there is Gil Travis (Bert Convy) a businessman too busy to spend time with his estranged wife and child who is encouraged to make the most of his time with his family.
"You had to be there", I have lost track of the number of times I have heard that being said when someone tells a funny story and only ends up getting a bemused look by those who weren't there at the time. It is something I have long known is a factor when watching old movies as often a movie worked because of when it was made but now lacks something, although still offering up cherished memories for those who remembered watching it all those years ago. This is even more the case when it comes to older Christmas movies as they seem to have an even greater nostalgic power.
That leads me to "The Man in the Santa Claus Suit" a movie which was enticing because of seeing it starred Fred Astaire but ended up frankly a little disappointing. Now we are talking simple here as we have three men with different issues from being uncaring to being a criminal but thanks to the various characters which Fred Astaire plays and the Santa suits things work out for them all by the time the movie ends. But there is nothing which really grabs you about these stories not even musical numbers featuring Nanette Fabray and Harold Gould which for me are kind of forced and out of place.
What it means is that "The Man in the Santa Claus Suit" relies heavily on Fred Astaire playing various, amusing characters. The thing is the whilst Astaire deserves the respect for what he brings to this movie the script does him little in the way of favours and so it is not the memorable Fred Astaire movie you want it to be.
What this all boils down to is that "The Man in the Santa Claus Suit" might hold some cherished memories for those who watched back in the late 70s and early 80s but for those who come to it now may end up disappointed by it.