Mickey's Christmas Carol
|Mickey's Christmas Carol|
|Mickey Mouse series|
Theatrical release poster with The Rescuers
|Directed by||Burny Mattinson|
|Produced by||Burny Mattinson|
|Music by||Irwin Kostal|
|Studio||Walt Disney Productions|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
|Running time||26 minutes|
|Preceded by||The Simple Things (1953)|
|Followed by||The Prince and the Pauper (1990)|
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, 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.
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 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 (Scrooge McDuck), a surly money-lender, 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 from Disney's Wind in the Willows) fundraising aid for the poor. His loyal employee Bob Cratchit (Mickey Mouse) requests to have half of Christmas Day off, to which Scrooge agrees (albeit reluctantly), 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 is visited by the ghost of his deceased business partner Jacob Marley (Goofy), who warns him that he is condemned in the afterlife and Scrooge will face the same torment unless he repents of his wicked, miserly ways. Marley informs Scrooge that three time-travelling spirits will visit him during the night. As Marley leaves, he falls downstairs after he avoids tripping over Scrooge's cane.
Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past (Jiminy Cricket), who takes him back in time to his early 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. Ten years later, Scrooge is more focused on making money, and when Isabelle remarks she has been paying a mortgage on a cottage intended for their honeymoon and is wondering when he will propose marriage to her, Scrooge instead forecloses on the cottage, with the Ghost remarking he lost Isabelle forever. A distraught Scrooge dismisses the Ghost as he returns to the present, lamenting his past actions.
Scrooge next 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 (Mortie Mouse). The Ghost remarks "If present shadows remain unchanged, I see an empty chair where Tiny Tim once sat", then disappears.
Smoke fills the streets, revealing the Ghost of Christmas Future, who appears as a silent, cloaked figure; the Ghost takes Scrooge to a future cemetery, where Scrooge is shocked to see Bob and his wife (Minnie Mouse) mourning Tiny Tim's grave. 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, Scrooge asks whose grave this belongs to. The ghost lights a cigar, revealing his face (he was actually Pete) and darkly remarks "Why yours, Ebenezer Scrooge; the richest man in the cemetery". The ghost shoves him into his empty coffin which opens to reveal the fires of Hell, laughing uproariously while Scrooge vows to repent.
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, 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, but reveals he intends on raising Bob’s salary and making him his partner in his counting house. Scrooge and the Cratchits 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 (in tandem with Tony Anselmo)||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 & 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), then on to 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.
- 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