Disney / Mickey's Christmas Carol

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"Joy to the children far and near
What a wondrous time of year
Isn't it just grand to say
Merry, Merry Christmas
Merry, Merry Christmas
Oh, what a merry Christmas day!"

For years, Mickey Mouse, a once mighty force in animation, was but a memory. After his fall from popularity in the 1940s, and his final appearances in the 1950s, it seemed like there was no future for the mouse save as a corporate symbol for Disney.

But then, in 1983, this film came along and changed that — well, sort of.

Mickey's Christmas Carol is a 24-minute film, and a fairly straightforward adaptation of that one classic story everybody knows about by now. Despite the short being billed as Mickey's comeback, he serves only as the character of Bob Cratchit. Scrooge McDuck (in the role of—take a wild guessEbenezer Scrooge!) carries the bulk of the film instead, making his first animated appearance since the 1967 educational short Scrooge McDuck and Money. (Otherwise, up to this point he'd only appeared in the Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge comics and this short's precursor, a storybook album from The '70s.)

Debuting as a supporting feature with the 1983 theatrical re-release of The Rescuers (after an animators' strike delayed an intended 1982 premiere on television), this adaptation was fairly well-received and nominated for an Academy Award as Best Animated Short Film. In 1984 it began airing annually around Christmas on network and cable television, and remains a holiday season favorite to this day.

This animated short features examples of:

  • Accidental Bargaining Skills: After Scrooge's reformation, he goes to the alms collectors. They are stunned at his sudden turnaround, which leads him to think they're holding out for more!
    Scrooge: Good morning, gentlemen. I've something for ya.
    [Puts a bag of coins on the second collector's head]
    First Charity Collector (Mr. Rat): Twenty gold sovereigns! Oh, no!
    Scrooge: Not enough? Here.
    [Puts another bag on the collector's pants]
    Scrooge: Fifty gold sovereigns!
    Second Charity Collector (Mr. Mole): Really, Mister Scrooge. It's...
    Scrooge: Still not enough! You drive a hard bargain. Here you are.
    [Throws several bags at the collectors]
    Scrooge: One hundred gold pieces, and not a penny more!
    First Charity Collector (Mr. Rat): Oh, thank you, Mr. Scrooge! Thank you! And a *merry* Christmas to you!
  • Adaptation Distillation: The result of telling an already short novel in a half-hour runtime. Some plot points are lost and others condensed and/or simplified; Tiny Tim's Bad Future fate for instance, is shown in a few seconds, without dialogue.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • In most adaptations, the Ghost of Christmas Future is simply a Necessary Evil and Villainy-Free Villain; here, he actually finds sadistic enjoyment in forcing Scrooge through his potential Bad Future. Of course, this one's portrayed by Pete, so what else did you really expect?
    • In the book and most adaptations Scrooge reluctantly agrees to give Bob Cratchit Christmas Day off, with expecting him earlier the following morning, while here he only gives him half a day off, docks his pay by half, and makes him wash his laundry for him.
    • Played With Goofy as Jacob Marley. Goofy is usually portrayed as a heroic, bumbling character. But Jacob Marley is someone who was evil enough in life he's sentenced to damnation, though his role here is to give a warning message so Scrooge won't follow his footsteps or else he'll suffer eternally, which is technically a rather heroic role despite his evil past. At least Goofy still kept his bumbling attitude.
  • Adapted Out: Since Daisy is playing Young Scrooge's love interest, Isabelle, Fred's wife isn't seen or mentioned.
  • All Just a Dream: What Scrooge is very thankful for, given his nightmare's conclusion.
  • Animated Adaptation: This is an adaptation of Disneyland Records' 1974 audio musical entitled An Adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol. The biggest difference is that the first and third ghosts in the animated short are played by Merlin (Past) and the Evil Queen/Witch (Future), while Willie the Giant still played Present. The alms collectors are played not by Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole, as in the animated short, but by J. Worthington Foulfellow and Gideon.
  • Anthropomorphic Shift: Inverted with Cyril Proudbottom the horse. He is a Partially Civilized Animal in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, but he's a Nearly Normal Animal in this featurette.
  • Black Comedy: The Ghost of Christmas Future cracks an ironically cruel joke at Ebenezer's impending demise.
  • Book Snap: Scrooge is working on his ledger when Donald Duck (as Fred) comes in and wishes him a Merry Christmas. Scrooge slams the ledger shut and asks him "What's so merry about it?"
  • The Cameo: Several classic Disney characters make appearances, including The Three Little Pigs, Jiminy Cricket, Willie the Giant and Mr. Toad. And just about everybody at Fezziwig's appeared in a Disney feature (Robin Hood in particular) or short.
  • Carnivore Confusion: A suckling pig makes an appearance when Scrooge meets the Ghost of Christmas Present, after the Three Little Pigs have a cameo as carolers in the opening scene on the city streets. Donald also invites Scrooge to have goose for dinner despite having at least two cousins who are geese.
  • Chewbacca Defense: Scrooge confounding the charity workers.
  • Cigar Chomper: Pete as the devilish Ghost of Christmas Future.
  • Demoted to Extra: Fred is a bit less important in this adaptation. Scrooge chews him out in the first act, then reconciles and promises to go to his party in the ending, but the Ghost of Christmas Present doesn't take him to see Fred's party in progress.
  • Digital Destruction: The 30th Anniversary Edition home video releases have digitally smeared picture, which also looks zoomed in too closely. The Digital HD release of the 2001 anthology special Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed In at the House of Mouse does provide an un-cropped, more filmic-looking alternative, albeit without any credits.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: When Isabelle asks Scrooge about his decision, she means whether they get married, while he thinks it's about the mortgage on their honeymoon cottage, which he closes. Needless to say, she walks out on him forever.
  • Evil Laughter: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come laughs after shoving Scrooge into his own grave.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Scrooge's reaction to meeting the Ghost of Christmas Past, played by Jiminy Cricket. The Ghost's response is that if men were measured by kindness, Scrooge would be no bigger than a speck of dust.
  • Expospeak Gag:
    Mr. Rat: Sir, we are soliciting funds for the indigent and destitute.
    Scrooge: For the what?
    Mr. Mole: We're collecting for the poor.
  • The Faceless: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come has no face visible under its hood except for his eyes. Averted when the ghost reveals himself as Pete.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: In the scene where Scrooge is confronted by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, he is shown a newly dug grave, and told that nobody came to the funeral of the man who will be buried there. Upon learning that it is his grave, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shoves him into the grave. Scrooge screams for mercy and vows to change, but he loses his grip on a twig and falls into a casket whose interior is on fire, implying he is about to enter Hell.
  • Furry Denial: Scrooge McDuck, who's playing Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol is referred to as an "Englishman," despite being a drake (a male duck) and actually Scottish.
  • Gentle Giant: The Ghost of Christmas Present. At least he tries to be gentle.
  • Got Me Doing It: Mickey almost says "And a Bah Humbug to you" to Scrooge, but catches himself and wishes Merry Christmas instead.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: When Isabelle leave Scrooge, her dress, parasol, and fur cape are all dark purple.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: A rare case of an animated character doing it, Scrooge McDuck was named after Ebenezer. Though he himself was created in 1947 his name was based on the title character from the original story, first published in 1843.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Scrooge pulls this on the two charity collectors as an excuse to avoid giving them any money for the poor.
    Scrooge: You realize if you give money to the poor, they won't be poor anymore, will they?
    First charity collector: Well, I—
    Scrooge: And, if they're not poor anymore, then you won't have to raise money for them anymore.
    Second alms collector: Well, I suppose—
    Scrooge: And if you don't have to raise money for them anymore, then you'd be out of a job. Oh, please, gentlemen, don't ask me to put you out of a job. Not on Christmas Eve.
  • Jerkass: The whole point of the Ghosts visiting Scrooge is to tell him what a mean, miserly, all-around creep he really is, and that he had better change or else his future won't be good.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Tiny Tim is terminally ill. In the bad future, Tim has died of his illness and Bob is deeply in grief, having never had a chance to say goodbye, much less spend with him during Tim's last few days as Scrooge worked him past the point of exhaustion.
  • Lonely Funeral: The weasel gravediggers say that nobody showed up for Scrooge's funeral.
  • Mind Your Step: Happens as Marley's ghost bids farewell to Scrooge and walks through the bedroom wall:
    Scrooge: Marley, watch out for that first—!
    Scrooge: ...step.
  • Mythology Gag: The younger version of Scrooge when he meets Isabelle is based on Donald in the 1950 short "Crazy Over Daisy".
  • Never Say "Die": Almost averted. Scrooge says "Then that means Tim will..." but gets cut off when he realizes that the Ghost of Christmas Present has vanished. The next scene makes the conclusion abundantly clear, though.
  • Offscreen Crash: Happens to Goofy (playing Marley) along with Mind Your Step. Scrooge tells him to "watch out for that first..." Step.
  • Out of Focus: Despite getting title billing, Mickey has a relatively small role in what was hyped as his comeback film, portraying a sympathetic and likable Bob Cratchit.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Isabelle's first dress is bright pink.
  • Porky Pig Pronunciation: As in Fun and Fancy Free, Willie still can't say "pistachio".
  • Rule of Funny: Some of the greedy stuff Scrooge brags about, Marley's pratfalls, and the giant walking around town.
  • Second Face Smoke: Done by Pete (as the Ghost of Christmas Future) to Scrooge, who chokes on the cigar smoke.
  • Spin-Off: The success of this short paved the way for Disney to put together DuckTales (1987), with Alan Young returning as the voice of Scrooge McDuck.
  • Stock Scream: As Marley's ghost leaves and falls down the stairs, one can clearly hear the iconic "Goofy holler" as he falls.
  • Suddenly Voiced: The Ghost Of Christmas Future never speaks in the book and most adaptations, but here Pete has one line after being silent for most of his scene.
    "Why, yours, Ebenezer! The richest man in the cemetery!!"
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast: Every character is played by an established Disney animated character.
  • Wham Line: A famous one, coupling perfectly with the Wham Shot from the original story.
    Scrooge: Spirit...whose lonely grave is this?
    (The ghost lights a match to reveal the name on the gravestone is "Ebenezer Scrooge")
    Ghost: (removes his hood to reveal a maniacally grinning Pete) Why yours Ebenezer! (pushes Scrooge into the grave) The richest man in the cemetery! (laughs wickedly)
  • Villain Song: Not in the short, but on the original LP, Scrooge sings about how "the only thing that counts for [him] is money".
    • The same song has a "villain sucks" section that's sung from Bob Cratchit's perspective.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: An adaptation of the book.

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