Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mickey's Christmas Carol - Part Two

Continuing from where we left off, Scrooge is fast asleep when he is approached by the Ghost of Christmas Past, Jiminy Cricket, badge and all.  Perhaps he was promoted after doing a good job with Pinocchio.
In the original record set, Jiminy's role was actually played by Merlin the Wizard from The Sword and the Stone.  I believe in another version, it was played by the Blue Fairy.  I think they chose the better character in this case.  Below I've posted a picture of them with Human!Fezziwig.
Speaking of Fezziwig (played by Mr Toad), that's exactly where they're headed!  Jiminy takes a reluctant Scrooge sailing out the door and over London (while the orchestra plays an all-too short piece of fun flying music) down to Fezziwig's building.  Inside, all of Scrooge's "very dearest friends."  Take note that one of the guests is Grandma Duck in what I believe is her only animated appearance.

I love this scene.  The music playing is fantastic (if you listen closely, you can hear that it's actually an upbeat version of Scrooge's leitmotif) and there are so many fun cameos!  Personally, I think it would have been nice if Brer Rabbit and Pluto made an appearance as well, but what are you gonna do, right?

It's a bit odd seeing Scrooge being romantically intertwined with Daisy (playing Isabelle), but Donald was Fred, so...

However, Scrooge's love for Isabelle is short-lived, as he grows to love his money more than her.  While most versions of the story have Isabelle dumping Scrooge, here he is actually the one to spurn her when he forecloses on their honeymoon cottage.  The douche doesn't even notice when she leaves until she slams the door, causing his gold to fall!

Of course, Scrooge regrets this now, but it's too late.  In a flash, he is back in his own bed.

I like how they handled this version of Christmas Past.  While it is rather rushed, I always found the past sequence to be kinda boring.  I understand that it is crucial in explaining Scrooge's character, but some versions I've seen are slow as molasses (I'm looking at you, 1970's Scrooge...TWO ballads in a row? Really?!).  Here, although it might be a little too fast, things really keep moving along.

Scrooge is stunned to find Christmas Present/Willie the Giant (wonderfully voiced by Will Ryan) towering over him.  He is soon calmed, though, by the food of generosity, which has flooded his bedroom.  Watch for a disturbing moment where Scrooge eagerly rips the leg off of a turkey.  You're practically related to him!

Willie clomps down the street and shows Scrooge the incredibly humble-but-cozy home of the Cratchits.  It is here that we meet Minnie/Mrs Cratchit who doesn't get a single line.  Russi Taylor (wife of the late Wayne Allwine, who first voiced Mickey Mouse in this short) didn't do Minnie until 1987.  Minnie does, however, have lines in the original record version.

We also meet Tiny Tim, who I read somewhere was played by Mickey's nephew, Morty.  I guess Ferdie played the other kid.  No idea on who the girl is.  Minnie had nieces in the comics, so maybe she's one of them.

Here's where the pacing has some issues.  Although Tim is adorable, we barely get a chance to get to know him before the scene switches.  Luckily, Mickey's grieving is so powerful (more on that in a bit) that we are still moved when we see what the future may hold.

In a nice scene transition, just as Scrooge realizes that Tim may not be alright, the lights in the Cratchit's house go out and he is engulfed in a fog that turns out to be cigar smoke.

Yep, it's Peg-Leg Pete as Christmas Future.  This is a big step up from the original record when the role was played by the Snow White Witch.
In what is possibly the best scene in whole film, Pete shows Scrooge the grave of Tiny Tim, where Mickey stands, tears in his eyes.  No words need to be said.  A beautiful flute piece plays on the soundtrack.  Best Tim death scene EVER, and a great example of "less is more."
We then get a cameo from a pair of weasels as the gravediggers as Scrooge sees his own grave in a chilling scene:

"Spirit, who's lonely grave is this?"

"Why, yours, Ebeneezer...THE RICHEST MAN IN THE CEMETERY!"  Like Goofy, I believe this is Pete's finest hour, despite him only having one line.

Scrooge is then shoved into the grave, falling into a coffin filled with fire and smoke in a scene lifted from 1970's Scrooge.  I don't recall being afraid of this scene, but I wouldn't be surprised if it frightened any kids.

Scrooge, of course, is very much alive and vows to change for the better.  The short then goes through the motions as he rights his various wrongs, ending with a tender scene at the Cratchits' house.

In the book, Scrooge surprises Cratchit at work the next day, but I prefer this, actually.  I think that rushed as Mickey's Christmas Carol is, the pacing really works in this case.

All in all, it's a wonderful little special, and although it's not the best Christmas Carol, it's easily my favorite.

The Muppets come pretty darn close, though...

Thanks to Digitalius for the screencaps!

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