Disney Blog 2020: Mickey's Christmas Carol
It's that time of year again! In celebration of Walt Disney and all things Disney in December, this month I am highlighting one of my favorite Christmas movies, Mickey's Christmas Carol.
Mickey's Christmas Carol was produced, directed, and written by Burny Mattinson, his first such role within Disney, after spending several years as an animator and storyboarder for various other movies, including Robin Hood, The Sword in the Stone, and The Fox and the Hound. Mickey's Christmas Carol would end up being a landmark in several ways: it was only the second time Scrooge McDuck would appear in Disney media (as the titular hero no less), it was the first time Mickey Mouse (and several other characters) had been in a theatrical cartoon in several decades, and it was also the debut of several new voice actors. Based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the film is acted out by a surprisingly large cast of Disney characters fulfilling the various roles, and several of these characters had new voice actors, including Mickey (previously voiced by Walt himself), as many of the original actors had passed away in the intervening years. It was also the final performance of Clarence Nash as Donald Duck.
The story largely follows a slightly earlier audio record Disney produced in 1974, An Adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol. Ebeneezer Scrooge (Scrooge McDuck) is a miserly banker who overworks his employee Bob Cratchit (Mickey Mouse). On Christmas Eve, Scrooge turns away beggars, refuses to go to his nephew's (Donald Duck) party, and forces Cratchit to work late. That night, Scrooge is visited by the three Spirits of Christmas (played by Jiminy Cricket, Willie the Giant and Pete) and the ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley (Goofy) who convince Scrooge to change his ways before his death. Scrooge eventually sees the error of his ways and the consequences of his miserly actions (such as the death of Tiny Tim) before he makes amends with everyone.
Charles Dickens is largely credited for creating the modern idea of the nostalgic Christmas holiday, and a lot of that same sense can be felt in this short film. Much like Dickens, Walt Disney was also a patron of nostalgia, and nostalgia remains a concept the Disney Company had infused in its many offerings over the years. It is a treat seeing Fezziwig's Christmas party, the Ghost of Christmas Present's feast, and the many small touches throughout the film that clearly establish what day it is. The music itself is also a very nice touch, notably the main track "Oh What a Merry Christmas Day" plays at the start of the film, and has a final reprise at the closing.
The notable takeaway from Mickey's Christmas Carol is the launch of Scrooge McDuck's career; following this second, much bigger role, Scrooge McDuck went on to star in the hit late 80's DuckTales. Scrooge was cemented as the great uncle of Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie and the adventures they had there since.
There isn't much more to say about this timeless classic. At 26 minutes, it is one of the shortest versions of Charles Dickens' classic work, but for this fan at least, remains my favorite telling. If you have not seen the film, give it a try!