Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mickey's Christmas Carol

 First released in the U.S. 16 December 1983

In this animated adaptation from the Disney Studios,  all the principals are "played" by Disney characters!  Hence, Scrooge McDuck (Alan Young), appropriately enough plays Ebeneezer Scrooge,  Mickey Mouse    ( Wayne Allwine) is Bob Cratchit,  Goofy is Jacob Marley, Nephew Fred is Donald Duck (Clarence "Ducky" Nash) and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future are played by Jiminy Cricket,  Willie The Giant (from Mickey And The Beanstalk) and Pegleg Pete respectively.  Tiny Tim is "played" by Morty Fieldmouse (one of Mickey's nephews) and many smaller roles are taken by other familiar characters.

A special introductory portrait of Mickey created just for this short
Some things that differ from the traditional storyline include:
* Scrooge's remark that Marley left him money for funeral costs, and Scrooge opted to bury his friend at sea to make a profit on the bequest.
* In addition to his usual mistreatment of Crachit, Scrooge also makes him do his laundry and fusses at Bob for trying to use a piece of coal to thaw out his inkwell.

 * Scrooge's interactions with the three spirits are brief but mostly intact.  The major departure here involves Scrooge's relationship with his fiance Isabelle (named Belle in the book and "played" by Daisy Duck in this adaptation). Not only does Scrooge's obsession with money and work lead to the end of their engagement, he forecloses on Isabelle's cottage! (That's harsh!)

Scrooge (literally) breaks Isabelle's heart.
After his reformation,  Scrooge runs into Nephew Fred in the street and tells him that he will join them for Christmas dinner after all, much to Fred's surprise.  Scrooge then pays a Christmas day visit to the Crachits' house (something that doesn't occur in all adaptations or in the book itself).  He tries to pretend to be his old, stingy self at first but can't pull it off as Tim and the other little Cratchits discover that his "laundry" bag contains toys and goodies for the family.

The contents of Scrooge's bag are way cooler than dirty laundry!
RigbyMel says:

If this isn't the first adaptation of A Christmas Carol that I saw as a child, it is certainly one of the earliest that I remember seeing.   (My family went to see it at the local movie theater -- I think it was packaged as the short before the 1983 re-issue of The Rescuers).  I enjoyed it then and continue to enjoy it now.

Donald Duck as Nephew Fred enthusiastically enters Scrooge's counting house
The story is told with economy, clocking in at just 23 minutes and is a bit kinder and gentler in its presentation than some versions. (No Scrooge threats to bury those who enjoy Christmas with a stake of holly through their hearts, for example.)  It is  a Disney movie, after all.    There is a touch of scary with the Ghost of Christmas Future, as well there should be.   The only real issue I have with this adaptation is the "casting" of sweet, loveable Goofy as Marley's Ghost - I don't quite buy that he was a mean old miser in life.

There are some great gags employed,  my favorite being when the Ghost of Christmas Present picks up a streetlight and proceeds to use it like a flashlight.    I also like the discovery of the toys at the end and I think the "Oh What A Merry Christmas Day" song that plays over the opening and closing credits is an overlooked holiday gem.

Pegleg Pete as the Ghost of Chirstmas Future
This adaptation is well animated and well acted, but if one is not a fan of Disney stuff in general, one might find it cloying.  Personally, I am a dyed-in-the-wool Disney-phile and try to watch this version at least once a year.

Scrooge visits the Crachit home on Christmas Day.

RigbyMel's rating;
4 candy canes

The Ghost of Christmas Past (Jiminy Cricket) whisks Scrooge away

J.A.Morris says:
Unlike my co-blogger, I did NOT see this when it was new and didn't see it at all until the DVD release.  I'm a big fan of Dickens and the Disney characters, so it's easy for me to enjoy this short. 

Mr. Toad as Fezziwig.
It features nice voice work by some legendary performers.  This is the last theatrical cartoon featuring Clarence "Ducky" Nash as the voice of Donald Duck.  He played the character from Donald's inception in 1934.  Alan Young (who also co-wrote this adaptation) is also great as Scrooge McDuck.  This is Young's first time voicing this character, he's continued to perform the Scrooge McDuck ever since.

Willie the Giant as the Ghost of Christmas Present searching for the right house to visit
It should also be noted that this was the first new Mickey Mouse cartoon since The Simple Things, which was released 30 years earlier, in 1953.

Young Scrooge and Isabelle at Fezziwig's party
 Mickey's Christmas Carol can be found on dvd and also airs on ABC Family every Christmas season.

I'm surprised this never quite became a tv "classic" because it's a nice version of Dickens' tale and it could also motivate kids to seek out the book for the "real" story. 

J.A. Morris' rating:
4 candy canes

1 comment:

bga said...

This is a clever version of Dickens' story and I agree with Jason that it might lead children to read the original.