Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tonight's Movie: Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983)

Tonight's movie is actually a 26-minute short, Disney's charming MICKEY'S CHRISTMAS CAROL.

MICKEY'S CHRISTMAS CAROL cuts to the essence of the Dickens story, a shorthand version which isn't too scary for the small fry yet has plenty to interest adult viewers as well. It's the perfect dash of seasonal cheer for the time-pressed and the tired, both of which described me late this evening!

Part of the fun is that the classic story is perfectly cast with Disney characters. Scrooge McDuck (Alan Young) is Ebenezer Scrooge, with Mickey Mouse (Wayne Allwine) and Minnie Mouse as the long-suffering Cratchits and Donald Duck as Scrooge's goodhearted nephew, Fred. Goofy (Hal Smith) is Jacob Marley's ghost, while Jiminy Cricket (Eddy Carroll) is the Ghost of Christmas Past.

I love the way other Disney cartoon characters are woven into the story. The Three Little Pigs can be glimpsed caroling at the opening. Chip and Dale are seen dancing at Fezzywig's, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie are decorating the tree. Lady Kluck from ROBIN HOOD (1973) is also among those at the dance.

This was one of the last times the legendary Clarence Nash voiced Donald Duck; he appeared on a Donald Duck 50th Anniversary special the following year, and passed away early in 1985.

Alan Young, the voice of Scrooge McDuck, is now 93. Young, also well known for the TV series MISTER ED, voiced Scrooge McDuck for over two decades. He has written his memoirs.

Composer-conductor Irwin Kostal was a two-time Oscar winner for scoring WEST SIDE STORY (1961) and THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965). He also scored MARY POPPINS (1964). Kostal's score for MICKEY'S CHRISTMAS CAROL includes "Oh, What a Merry Christmas Day," which is sometimes heard at Disneyland at this time of year.

MICKEY'S CHRISTMAS CAROL, which was nominated for the Oscar as Best Animated Short, was cowritten, directed, and produced by Burny Mattinson. I had the privilege of hearing him speak on a panel at last summer's Destination D: 75 Years of Disney Animation.

MICKEY'S CHRISTMAS CAROL is available on DVD as part of the Disney Treasures set Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Vol. 2 or in MICKEY'S MAGICAL CHRISTMAS: SNOWED IN IN THE HOUSE OF MOUSE; the latter also had a VHS release. It should be noted that the version included in MICKEY'S MAGICAL CHRISTMAS does not include the cartoon's opening credits.

MICKEY'S MAGICAL CHRISTMAS can be rented to view via Amazon streaming.


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