Friday, December 14, 2012

It's Film Strip Friday! Mickey's Christmas Carol


It’s Film Strip Friday!
Mickey’s Christmas Carol
Release Date December, 16th, 1983

            
FUN FACTS:

Mickey's Christmas Carol is a 1983 American animated fantasy short film produced by Walt Disney Productions and distributed by Buena Vista Distribution Company. It was directed and produced by Burny Mattinson. The cartoon is an adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1843 novella A Christmas Carol with Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchit and Scrooge McDuck as his namesake and inspiration, 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 Dicken's 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 rereleases, Mickey had not appeared in movie theaters since the short film The Simple Things released in 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) in 1979.
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).

Synopsis

On Christmas Eve 1843, while all of Victorian England is in the merry spirit of Christmas, Ebenezer Scrooge (Scrooge McDuck) thinks only of the money he has made and of making more (apparently, he charges people 80% interest, compounded daily). While Scrooge's selfish thoughts cascade in his head, Bob Cratchit (Mickey Mouse), exhausted and underpaid (a meager two shillings and a ha′penny per day), continues to work long and hard for him. Cratchit reluctantly asks for a "half day off" for Christmas, to which Scrooge replies it will be unpaid. When collectors Rat and Mole, along with beggars on the streets, kindly ask for a simple donation, Scrooge responds to Rat and Mole that if he does, the poor will no longer be poor and thus they (the collectors) will be out of work, "and you [can't] ask me to do that, not on Christmas Eve." Scrooge's cheery nephew Fred (Donald Duck) invites his crotchety uncle to a holiday feast fit for a Roman emperor -- roast goose with chestnut dressing, candied fruits, and cinnamon cake with lemon glaze. Scrooge turns him down flat, stating that such rich festive cuisine gives him digestive and other health difficulties.
Later, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley (Goofy), Scrooge's greedy former business partner who has died seven years earlier. Due to his cruelty in life, he is doomed to wear heavy chains for eternity. He warns that a similar fate will befall Scrooge unless he changes his ways and that Scrooge will be visited by three spirits. Marley then leaves, falling down the stairs when he tries to avoid tripping over Scrooge's cane again. The first spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Past (Jiminy Cricket), shows Scrooge his past. His obsession of money led him to break the heart of his fiancee Isabelle (Daisy Duck) by foreclosing on the honeymoon cottage's mortgage.
The second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present (Willie the Giant), arrives and shows Scrooge the poverty-stricken Cratchit family, who still keep a festive attitude in their home despite their hardships. Bob's young son, Tiny Tim, is revealed to be ill, and Willie foretells tragedy if the family's hapless life does not change. However, just when Scrooge is desperate to know Tim's fate, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the house disappear. The third and final spirit, Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (a hooded figure later revealed to be Black Pete), takes Scrooge to the future in a graveyard. When he sees Bob mourning Tiny Tim's death, Scrooge is horrified and asks whether this future can be changed.
Two gravediggers (Weasels from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad) are amused that no one attended Scrooge's funeral while digging his grave. After the weasels leave to take a break from their work, the ghost reveals Scrooge's grave by lighting a match. The ghost shoves him into his grave calling him "the richest man in the cemetery." Despite his pleas that he will repent, Scrooge falls into an empty coffin which bursts open to hell.
However, Scrooge suddenly awakens on Christmas Day. Having been given another chance, he throws his coat over his nightshirt, dons his cane and top hat, and goes to visit the Cratchits, cheerfully donating generous amounts of money along the way (including 100 gold sovereigns to Rat and Mole; the charity collectors from earlier) and telling Fred that he will come after all. He tries to play a ninny on Bob, dragging in a large sack supposedly filled with laundry and announcing gruffly that there will be extra work in the future. But to the Cratchits' joy, the sack is instead filled with toys and a big turkey for dinner. Scrooge gives Bob a raise and makes him his partner in the counting house, and Tiny Tim proclaims "God bless us, everyone!"

Cast

Main cast

Voice actor
Character
Role
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)
Nonspeaking
Mr. Toad
Fezzywig ("Fezziwig" in the novella)
Nonspeaking
Minnie Mouse
Emily Cratchit
Nonspeaking
Millie or Melody Mouse
Martha Cratchit
Nonspeaking
Morty and Ferdie
Fieldmouse
Peter Cratchit
Dick Billingsley
Tiny Tim
Hal Smith
Rat
Collectors for the poor
Wayne Allwine
Mole
Wayne Allwine
Otto
Beggar
Wayne Allwine and Will Ryan
Weasels
Gravediggers

Extras

Opening street scene
  • The Big Bad Wolf, collecting for charity
  • The Three Little Pigs, caroling
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
  • The 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 references to famous performers, including Gladys Knight & The Pips, Bob Mills, and Warren Oates.

Reception

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”. Siskel felt there wasn't enough emphasis on Mickey's character and that it didn't 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 was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Animated Short Subject of 1983.

Releases

Mickey's Christmas Carol premiered in the UK on October 20, 1983, and was released in the US on December 16, 1983, before the 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 (1986–1999; 2002–2006), and CBS (1991–1998), occasionally on ABC (2000, 2003), before moving permanently to ABC Family (2001–present). 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. In Canada, it airs on CBC, and has been aired every Christmas season since 1985. It typically airs the Sunday before Christmas.
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 a widescreen aspect ratio, however it is simply cropping the full screen version. The short is also on the Disney Animation Collection Volume 7 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 1989 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.
This short film was featured in Disney's Magical Mirror Starring Mickey Mouse.


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