Mickey's Christmas Carol
|Mickey's Christmas Carol|
US home video release cover
|Directed by||Burny Mattinson|
|Produced by||Burny Mattinson|
|Based on||A Christmas Carol|
by Charles Dickens
|Music by||Irwin Kostal|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
Mickey's Christmas Carol is a 1983 American animated featurette produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by Buena Vista Distribution. It was directed and produced by Burny Mattinson. The cartoon is an adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, starring Scrooge McDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge. Many other Disney characters, such as Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio, and those primarily from the Mickey Mouse universe, Robin Hood, and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, were cast throughout the film.
Mickey's Christmas Carol was largely an animated adaptation of a Disneyland Records 1974 audio musical entitled An Adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol. The musical featured similar dialogue and cast of characters with the exception of the first and last Christmas ghosts. Further, the songs from the record album version were not used in the animated film, although an opening chorus of a new song was heard of the credits.
This was the first original Mickey Mouse theatrical cartoon produced in over 30 years. With the exception of re-releases, Mickey had not appeared in movie theaters since the short film The Simple Things (1953). Many additional characters seen in the film had also not appeared in a theatrical cartoon for several decades. The film was also the last time in which Clarence Nash voiced Donald Duck. Nash was the only original voice actor in the film as Walt Disney (Mickey Mouse) and Pinto Colvig (Goofy) had died in the 1960s, Cliff Edwards (Jiminy Cricket) and Billy Gilbert (Willie the Giant) in 1971, and Billy Bletcher (Pete and the Big Bad Wolf) in 1979. It was also the first time in animation that Scrooge McDuck (as Ebenezer Scrooge) was voiced by actor Alan Young (who had first voiced the character on the musical album); Young would continue to be the primary voice actor for McDuck until the actor's death in 2016.
The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1984, but lost to Jimmy Picker's Sundae in New York. It was the first nomination for a Mickey Mouse short since Mickey and the Seal (1948). It was also the only Mickey Mouse short on which John Lasseter was involved as an animator (he later went on to work for Lucasfilm, Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios).
On Christmas Eve in 19th-century London, Ebenezer Scrooge (played by Scrooge McDuck) is a surly money-lender who does not share the merriment of Christmas. He declines his nephew Fred (Donald Duck)'s invitation to Christmas dinner, then brushes off two gentlemen (Rat and Mole) fundraising aid for the poor. His loyal employee Bob Cratchit (Mickey Mouse) requests to have half of Christmas Day off, to which Scrooge reluctantly accepts, but says Cratchit would be docked half a day's pay.
Scrooge continues his business and goes home just before midnight. In his house, Scrooge encounters the ghost of his deceased business partner Jacob Marley (Goofy), who warns him to repent his wicked ways or he will be condemned in the afterlife like he was, informing him that three spirits will visit him during the night.
At one o'clock, Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past (Jiminy Cricket), who takes him back in time to his early adult life. They visit his time as an employee under Fezziwig (Mr. Toad). Fezziwig throws a Christmas party where the young Scrooge meets a young woman named Isabelle (Daisy Duck), whom he falls in love with. However, the Ghost shows Scrooge how Isabelle left him when he chose money over her. A distraught Scrooge dismisses the Ghost as he returns to the present, lamenting his past actions.
At two o'clock, Scrooge meets the gigantic, merry Ghost of Christmas Present (Willie the Giant). Scrooge and the Ghost visit Bob's house, learning his family is surprisingly content with their small dinner. Scrooge takes pity on Bob's ill son Tiny Tim (played by Mortie Mouse). The Ghost comments that Tiny Tim will not survive until next Christmas and then disappears.
After Scrooge is transported to a cemetery, he is approached by the Ghost of Christmas Future (later revealed to be Pete), who appears as a silent, cloaked, cigar-smoking figure. When Scrooge inquires about Tiny Tim, the Ghost reveals that Tim had died. As Scrooge asks if this event can be changed, he then overhears two weasel gravediggers who are amused that no one attended the funeral of the man whose grave they are digging. After the weasels leave, the ghost reveals Scrooge as the man who died. Scrooge decides to change his ways as the Ghost shoves him into his empty coffin which opens to reveal the fires of Hell.
Awakening in his bedroom on Christmas Day, Scrooge decides to surprise Bob’s family with a turkey dinner and ventures out to spread happiness and joy around London. He accepts Fred's invitation and then donates a sizable amount of money to the gentlemen he earlier spurned. Scrooge then goes to the Cratchit house. At first putting on a stern demeanor, Scrooge reveals he brought foods and gifts for them and intends on raising Bob’s salary and making him his partner in his counting house. Scrooge and the Cratchits happily celebrate Christmas.
|Alan Young||Scrooge McDuck||Ebenezer Scrooge|
|Wayne Allwine||Mickey Mouse||Bob Cratchit|
|Hal Smith||Goofy||Jacob Marley's ghost|
|Eddie Carroll||Jiminy Cricket||Ghost of Christmas Past|
|Will Ryan||Willie the Giant||Ghost of Christmas Present|
|Will Ryan||Pete||Ghost of Christmas Future|
|Clarence Nash||Donald Duck||Fred, Scrooge's nephew|
|Patricia Parris||Daisy Duck||Isabelle ("Belle" in the novella)|
|None||J. Thaddeus Toad||Fezziwig|
|None||Minnie Mouse||Emily Cratchit|
|None||Millie or Melody Mouse||Martha Cratchit|
|None||Morty and Ferdie
|Dick Billingsley||Tiny Tim|
|Hal Smith||Ratty||Collectors for the poor|
|Wayne Allwine and Will Ryan||Weasels||Gravediggers|
Opening street scene
Party at Fezzywig's
- Lady Kluck, dancing with Secretary Bird
- Rabbit children, clapping
- Uncle Waldo; clapping, later dancing
- Grandma Duck; clapping, later dancing
- Horace Horsecollar, dancing with Clarabelle Cow
- Gus Goose, dancing with Clara Cluck
- Angus MacBadger, dancing
- Chip and Dale, dancing
- Huey, Dewey, and Louie, decorating Christmas tree
Closing street scene
- Skippy Bunny and Toby Turtle, playing in the street
- Mother Rabbit and Grandma Owl, standing in the street
- Practical Pig, chasing two of the Three Little Wolves
- Cyril Proudbottom, pulling Donald's cart
The film also includes unidentifiable dog, fox, pig, squirrel, bear, raccoon, goose, and chicken characters. The DVD print reveals that the graveyard scene also includes tombstones containing famous performers, including Gladys Knight and The Pips, Bob Mills, and Warren Oates.
Film critic Leonard Maltin said that rather than being “a pale attempt to imitate the past”, the film is “cleverly written, well staged, and animated with real spirit and a sense of fun.” Robin Allan stated that the film calls to mind the similarities between Walt Disney and Charles Dickens, in terms of both the work they produced and their work ethic.
However, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert of At the Movies gave it “two thumbs down” as they were both disappointed. Siskel felt there was not enough emphasis on Mickey's character, in spite of the title, and that it did not rank with most of Disney's full-length animated features. Ebert stated that it lacked the magic of visual animation that the “Disney people are famous for” and that it was a “forced march” through the Charles Dickens story without any ironic spin.
Mickey's Christmas Carol premiered in the UK on October 20, 1983 alongside a re-issue of The Jungle Book, and was released in the US on December 16, 1983, with a Christmas 1983 re-issue of The Rescuers. It has been broadcast on various television stations throughout the years. It started on NBC (1984–1990) with 12 new additional sepia title cards illustrated by Mike Peraza to match the 12 he had done for the original film to help bridge the segments together. It went on to air on The Disney Channel (1987–1999; 2002–2006), and CBS (1991–1996), occasionally on ABC (2000, 2003), before moving permanently to ABC Family (2001–). It was aired on Toon Disney in 2008. The run on ABC Family includes Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too and was part of their "25 Days of Christmas", but with several abrupt edits including the "Chocolate Pot Roast with Yogurt" line and Marley tripping on the stairs and falling down, letting out a Goofy holler. In Canada, it airs on CBC, and has been aired every Christmas season since 1985. It typically airs the Sunday before Christmas. For many years, the short film would air on CBC as a one-hour program, as mentioned below. In addition, Mickey's Christmas Carol would be shown unmatted. In recent years however, Mickey's Christmas Carol is only aired in a half-hour time slot and in high definition matted widescreen, presumably to be more suited for modern television screens.
The short film was released several times on VHS and laserdisc throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Some editions featured The Making of "Mickey's Christmas Carol" as a bonus.
The short is also featured, without its opening credits, in the direct-to-home release, Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse. It is also available on the ninth volume of the Walt Disney Classic Cartoon Favorites DVD collection, as well as in the Walt Disney Treasures set Mickey Mouse in Living Color – Volume 2; however, the latter is the only DVD to be released in its theatrical 1.66:1 widescreen aspect ratio, however it is simply cropping the 1.33:1 version. The short is also on the Disney Animation Collection Volume 7 DVD (1.33:1). On November 5, 2013, the 30th Anniversary Edition of this short was released on DVD and for the first time on Blu-ray; however, it was further cropped to 1.78:1 widescreen and featured a heavy use of noise reduction. Various other shorts were included in the DVD.
The aforementioned broadcasts in the 1980s and early 1990s spanned a full hour, with the first half consisting of the following older cartoon shorts: Donald's Snow Fight, Pluto's Christmas Tree, and The Art of Skiing. Each of the four items in the program was preceded by a narrative wraparound segment in which one of the Disney cartoon characters (Donald, Pluto (with Mickey translating), Goofy, and Mickey, respectively) would talk about his favorite Christmas, thus leading into the cartoon in question. From 1988 onwards, The Art of Skiing was excluded from the annual broadcast, replaced at the end of the hour by one segment or another. The 1993 telecast, for example, featured a behind-the-scenes featurette on The Nightmare Before Christmas. Later broadcasts simply reduced the timeslot to half an hour, showing Mickey's Christmas Carol by itself.
A clip of this film in Swedish was shown on Donald Duck's 50th Birthday to illustrate Donald's international appeal.
- Dickens' Christmas Carol by Disneyland Records at MouseVinyl.com
- The Ghost of Christmas Past was Merlin from The Sword in the Stone instead of Jiminy Cricket while the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come was the Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in her hag guise.
- Short Film Oscar® Winners in 1984-YouTube
- The film does not specify which mouse plays whom, but the 1974 musical identifies Tiny Tim as Morty.
- Maltin, Leonard (1987). Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. New American Library. p. 79. ISBN 0-452-25993-2.
- Allan, Robin (1999). Walt Disney and Europe. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. p. 261. ISBN 0-253-21353-3.
- At the Movies, December 1983
- Short Film Oscar® Winners in 1984-YouTube