The Stingiest Man in Town

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The Stingiest Man in Town
The Stingiest Man in Town.jpg
(Machi Ichiban no Kechinbou)
Genre Historical
Directed by Katsuhisa Yamada,
Written by Charles Dickens
Studio Topcraft
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The Stingiest Man in Town (町一番のけちんぼう Machi Ichiban no Kechinbō?) anime (1978), based on Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, is a Christmas special created by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass, which featured traditional animation rather than the Animagic most often used by the company. It was an animated remake of a long-unseen, but quite well received, live-action musical special (also called The Stingiest Man in Town) which had starred Basil Rathbone, Martyn Green, and Vic Damone. The live-action version had been telecast on December 23, 1956 on the NBC anthology series The Alcoa Hour, and was published on DVD in 2011, by VAI.


As with previous Rankin-Bass specials, animation duties for the 1978 version were provided by a Japanese studio, in this case Topcraft, which would later provide animation assistance for Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and the TV series Adventures of the Little Koala. Given that The Stingiest Man in Town was actually broadcast in Japan on Christmas Eve of 1978 (under the title Machi Ichiban Kechinbō), it is listed as an anime in some sources. The Japanese version was directed by Katsuhisa Yamada, better known for work on such bona fide anime as Mazinger Z and Devil Hunter Yohko and the characters were designed by Paul Coker Jr.


The Stingiest Man in Town is the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, told in the 1978 version through the perspective of the insect B.A.H. Humbug (voiced by Tom Bosley), obviously a word play on Scrooge's catch phrase, "bah humbug". Scrooge (performed by Walter Matthau) is portrayed as the tightwad Charles Dickens intended him to be with his consistent resistance to assist the poor or even have Christmas dinner with his nephew Fred, performed by Dennis Day and his family. In hopes of resuscitating the goodness of his one-time friend, the ghost of Jacob Marley (voiced by Theodore Bikel), Scrooge's former business partner, visits Scrooge in his mansion, exhorting him to change his ways. Scrooge deems this to be madness and soon prepares for bed.

Nevertheless, Scrooge's attitude soon changes after a fateful night wherein three ghosts also visit him and take him through his past and present, and show him what his future would be like if he does not change. Scrooge sees a younger caricature of himself, voiced by Robert Morse and realizes how greedy and miserly he has become. The Ghost of Christmas Present (performed by Paul Frees) proceeds to take Scrooge to the home of his diligent employee Bob Cratchit and discovers just how much poverty Cratchit and his family wallow in. Cratchit's crippled son Tiny Tim (voiced by Bobby Rolofson) touches Scrooge's heart and instigates a transformation within his personality. The production concludes with Scrooge assisting those less fortunate than himself.


The production features an unusual amount of songs, far more than in other animated productions of the story. It is very nearly through-sung. It is possible that this is because the animators wished to retain as many songs as possible from the 1956 live-action version.


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