His eyes, they may twinkle, but round and jolly this Santa is not.
And at the very least, he has to entertain us. Indeed, there have been some pretty weird interpretations of Santa Claus in the last 100 years of cinema, such 1998's entry, I'll Be Home for Christmas, a ho-ho-hummer that buckles teen heartthrob Jonathan Taylor Thomas into the familiar red suit.
Frank Thompson, author of the book American Movie Classics' Great Christmas Movies, has his own theory about what makes a satisfying onscreen Santa. "He has to have a great wizened look," he said. "And a mysterious quality. It's not enough to just be jolly."