|Directed by:||Burny Mattinson|
|Written by:|| Burny Mattinson|
Tony L. Marino
|Release date:||October 20, 1983|
|Running time:||25 minutes|
|Available on:|| VHS|
Mickey's Christmas Carol is a 1983 theatrical featurette featuring established Disney characters enacting A Christmas Carol. The production, hailed as Mickey Mouse's big-screen comeback (despite his limited supporting role), was inspired by An Adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol, Performed by The Walt Disney Players, a 1972 Disney record conceived by Alan Young and Alan Dineheart. Young also debuted as the voice of Uncle Scrooge McDuck, and would reprise the voice of Scrooge in nearly every subsequent production to feature the character, most notably DuckTales. The featurette also marked the first theatrical outing for Wayne Allwine as the voice of Mickey Mouse (who had previously voiced the character in animation produced for The New Mickey Mouse Club TV series in 1977) as well as Clarence Nash's final performance as the voice of Donald Duck.
In addition to Scrooge McDuck as his namesake, the cast of characters includes Mickey as Bob Cratchit, Donald as Scrooge's nephew Fred, Daisy Duck as Scrooge's first love, Minnie Mouse as a silent Mrs. Cratchit, Morty Fieldmouse (one of Mickey's nephews) as Tiny Tim, Goofy as the Ghost of Jacob Marley, Jiminy Cricket as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Willie the Giant (from Fun and Fancy Free) as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Pete as the Ghost of Christmas Future, Mole and Ratty (from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad) as the charity collectors, Mr. Toad himself in a silent cameo as Fezziwig, and scores of other cameos from the theatrical shorts and films.
On Christmas Eve, while all of Victorian England is in the merry spirit of Christmas, Ebenezer Scrooge (played by 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, 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 (in contrast to the original version where Scrooge is irritated at giving Cratchit Christmas off with pay). Scrooge's nephew Fred (Donald Duck) comes in to invite Scrooge to his family's Christmas dinner, but Scrooge turns him down. When collectors Rat and Mole, along with beggars on the streets, kindly ask for a simple donation, Scrooge responds to them 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."
That Christmas Eve night, the ghost of Scrooge's greedy former business partner Jacob Marley (Goofy, voiced by Hal Smith) appears and scares Scrooge out of his wits. When Scrooge commends him for his ruthlessness, Marley chuckles "Yup", but then recalls his sinfulness, and tells that because of his cruelty in life, he is doomed to wear heavy chains for eternity ("maybe even longer"). He warns that a similar fate, if not worse, will befall Scrooge unless he changes his ways. Marley then leaves, falling down the stairs when he tries to avoid tripping over Scrooge's cane again and letting out his signature Goofy holler.
Scrooge soon dismisses the incident, but is later awoken by The Ghost of Christmas Past (Jiminy Cricket). He shows Scrooge his past, when his growing love of money led him to cruelly break the heart of his fiance Isabel (Daisy Duck) by foreclosing on the honeymoon cottage's mortgage. (This is in sharp contrast to the original novel where Isabel is the one who ends the engagement with Scrooge in a relatively amicable manner.)
Not long after the first visit, the Ghost of Christmas Present (Willie the Giant) arrives, surrounded by turkey, mince pies, and suckling pigs. He shows him the poverty-stricken Cratchit family, who still keep a festive attitude in their home despite their hardships. Bob's young son, Tiny Tim (Morty Fieldmouse), 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 both vanish. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (a hooded figure later revealed to be Pete) takes Scrooge to the future in a graveyard. When he sees Bob mourning for Tiny Tim, who has passed away (indicated by Bob placing Tim's crutch on his memorial marker), Scrooge fearfully asks whether this future can be altered.
He then overhears the laughter of two gravediggers (two weasels from The Wind in the Willows), who are amazed and humored by the fact that no one attended the funeral of the man whose grave they were digging for. After the weasels leave to take a break from their work, Scrooge and the ghost approach the lonely grave, where the ghost lights a cigar, revealing Scrooge's name on the tombstone, and gives him a shove into his grave, calling him "the richest man in the cemetery". Scrooge falls towards his coffin as the lid opens and the flames of Hell burst out. Scrooge clings to vine but it snaps and Scrooge falls into his grave, shouting his repentance, as the ghost laughs cruelly.
Suddenly, he is back home on Christmas morning. 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 and telling Fred that he will come to dinner at his house 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 the original character's famous line of "God bless us, everyone!"
|Alan Young||Ebenezer Scrooge (Scrooge McDuck)|
|Hal Smith|| Jacob Marley (Goofy)|
|Wayne Allwine|| Bob Cratchit (Mickey Mouse)|
|Will Ryan|| The Ghost of Christmas Present (Willie)|
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Pete)
|Eddie Carroll||The Ghost of Christmas Past (Jiminy Cricket)|
|Patricia Paris||Isabel (Daisy Duck)|
|Dick Billingsley||Tiny Tim (Morty Fieldmouse)|
|Clarence Nash||Fred (Donald Duck)|
|no voice|| Mrs. Cratchit (Minnie Mouse)|
Fezziwig (Mr. Toad)
The above role casting is mostly the same as the version presented in the Dickens' Christmas Carol, Performed by The Walt Disney Players record, with the exception of the roles of the poor collectors and two of the ghosts. In the original record, the collectors were portrayed (ironically) by John Foulfellow and Gideon from Pinocchio, the Ghost of Christmas Past was played by Merlin from The Sword in the Stone, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come was portrayed by Queen Grimhilde (in her witch form) from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Cameo appearances include:
- Zeke "Big Bad" Wolf (Street Corner Santa)
- The Three Little Pigs (Singers standing with street corner Santa, also seen running in the street at the end)
- Dancers in the party sequence:
- Toby Tortoise and Max Hare from the Silly Symphonies shorts The Tortoise and the Hare and Toby Tortoise Returns
- Clara Cluck
- Gus Goose
- Peter Pig
- Paddy Pig
- Clarabelle Cow
- Horace Horsecollar
- Grandma Duck
- Chip 'n Dale
- Huey, Dewey and Louie (seen decorating a Christmas tree)
- Angus MacBadger from The Wind in the Willows
- The Namboombu Secretary Bird from Bedknobs and Broomsticks
- Lady Kluck, Sis and Tag-Along Bunny from Robin Hood
- Skippy Bunny and Toby Turtle from Robin Hood (seen playing in the streets at the end)
- Mother Rabbit and one of the owls from Robin Hood
- Otto the dog from Robin Hood (a beggar in the streets)
- Two of the Three Little Wolves (seen running in the street)
- Cyril Proudbottom from The Wind in the Willows (pulling Donald's cart at the end)
- Two of the weasels from The Wind in the Willows (gravediggers)
- A short snippet of the film appears in Prep & Landing.
- This is notably one of the very few times Mickey's nephews Morty and Ferdie Fieldmouse, originally featured in the Mickey Mouse newspaper comic strip, have ever appeared in animation.
Broadcast history and availability
The film premiered in the United Kingdom on October 20, 1983, and was packaged together with a re-release of the 1977 film, The Rescuers, starting on December 16th of the same year. It was billed as Mickey's "big-screen comeback" because his last appearance on film, the short The Simple Things, was thirty years previous, in 1953.
The special made its television debut on NBC on December 10, 1984, and was rebroadcast there until 1990, after which it aired on CBS from 1991 to 1998. These broadcasts spanned a full hour, with the first half consisting of three winter-themed theatrical Disney shorts - Donald's Snow Fight, Pluto's Christmas Tree, and The Art of Skiing. Each of the segments was preceded by a narrative wraparound segment in which one of the 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 removed from the annual broadcast, replaced at the end of the hour by a new different segment each year. The 1993 telecast, for example, featured a behind-the-scenes featurette on The Nightmare Before Christmas.
In the same year that the special began airing on television, Disney also released Mickey's Christmas Carol on VHS, Betamax, CED, and Laserdisc. All of these releases also contained a special making-of documentary, The Making of Mickey's Christmas Carol. However, when Disney released the special on VHS and Laserdisc again as part of the Walt Disney Mini-Classics line in 1986, the making-of documentary was only included on that year's Laserdisc release. Disney released the special on VHS again in 1994, this time as part of the Favorite Stories video series. The special was later featured on the Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Volume 2 DVD set in 2004, the Classic Cartoon Favorites, Volume 9 - Classic Holiday Stories DVD in 2005, and most recently, the Walt Disney Animation Collection, Volume 7: Mickey's Christmas Carol DVD in 2009. To date, the Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Volume 2 set is the only DVD release of the special that also included the making-of documentary. The special itself was also featured, with its opening credits edited out, as the last cartoon played in the direct-to-video compilation film Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse.
The special last aired on ABC in 2000 and 2003. Most recently, it has aired alongside Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too on ABC Family as part of the 25 Days of Christmas since 2008, but with many abrupt edits. The special notably also aired on Toon Disney (prior to it being replaced by Disney XD) on Christmas Day in 2008.
- Mickey's Christmas Carol at the Internet Movie Database
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