December 16, 1983 – The Mickey Mouse Cartoon Featurette Mickey’s Christmas Carol Premieres in Theaters
“What’s this world coming to, Cratchit? You work all your life to get money, and people want you to give it away!”
On December 16, 1983, the Mickey Mouse cartoon featurette Mickey’s Christmas Carol premiered in theaters. The 25 minute film was based on the classic Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol, with Disney comic book staple Uncle Scrooge McDuck playing the part of Ebenezer Scrooge. Mickey portrays Bob Cratchit, Goofy plays Jacob Marley’s ghost, and Donald Duck plays Fred, among several other classic Disney characters. This was Mickey’s foray back into theaters after his last short film in 1953, The Simple Things. The idea for the film went back to the 1974 record of the same name. The film was released on a double billing with the film The Rescuers. It was eventually nominated for an Academy Award – the first Mickey Mouse short to be honored so since 1948’s Mickey and the Seal; it would lose to Sundae in New York. The film was directed by Burny Mattinson, with story by Mattinson, Tony L. Marino, Ed Gombert, Don Griffith, Alan Young, and Alan Dinehart. It stars Alan Young as Scrooge, Wayne Allwine as Mickey Mouse, Clarence Nash as Donald, Hal Smith as Goofy, Eddie Carroll as Jiminy Cricket, and Will Ryan as Willie the Giant and Pete.
The film begins on Christmas Eve in London, and Scrooge is heading back to his office, where he lectures employee Bob Cratchit for using a piece of coal in the stove. Cratchit works up the nerve to ask Scrooge for half of Christmas Day off, and Scrooge agrees, so long as his pay is docked. Scrooge goes back to his desk to count his money, but is soon interrupted by the appearance of his nephew Fred. Fred brings his uncle a wreath, but he and Cratchit are soon dismayed at Scrooge’s attitude about Christmas. Fred invites his uncle to Christmas dinner, but is soon kicked out of the office. After Fred leaves, two men arrive asking Scrooge for a donation for charity. He sends them on their way without a donation, and laments to Cratchit about how he doesn’t understand why everyone wants him to give his money away.
Scrooge eyes the clock, but begrudgingly lets Cratchit go home for Christmas
That evening, Cratchit leaves merrily to join his family for Christmas, and Scrooge heads home in the late London night. As he arrives home, his door knocker suddenly turns into the face of his old partner, Jacob Marley. Scrooge is startled, but thinks nothing of it. A shadow follows him up the stairs, and although Scrooge tries to hide, the ghost of Marley finds him and warns him of his fate – to have to carry heavy chains on his soul for all eternity, thanks to his sins. Marley tells him that three spirits will meet him through the night, should he want to avoid that fate. Scrooge heads to bed, worried about the spirits, but soon dismisses them and goes to sleep. The Ghost of Christmas Past arrives at one, and takes Scrooge back to his past, when he used to be kinder and believed in Christmas. After a dizzying flight through London, Scrooge arrives back at his old employer’s Christmas Party. Scrooge spies himself in the corner, and watches as he falls in love with Isabelle, the love of his life.
As they continue watching Scrooge’s life, they see the decline of Scrooge’s love for Isabelle, as money has become his only love. She leaves him, and Scrooge begs the spirit to take him home. When the clock strikes two, the Ghost of Christmas Present arrives, who is surrounded by the food of generosity. Scrooge argues that no one has ever offered him generosity, but the ghost shoots back that Scrooge never gave reason for anyone to show him any. The ghost takes Scrooge to the house of Bob Cratchit, where Scrooge sees his family, with the sickly Tiny Tim. Scrooge is concerned with the lack of food the Cratchits have, as well as the welfare of Tiny Tim, who may not live to see another Christmas. As Scrooge asks the spirit what happens to the boy, the spirit disappears, and all the lights around him go out.
Cratchit and his family mourn the loss of their youngest child, Tiny Tim
The Ghost of Christmas Future arrives, with Scrooge being taken to the graveyard. Scrooge sees Cratchit mourning over his son’s grave, but when Scrooge begs for Tiny Tim’s life, he is interrupted by the laughter of two weasels, who are digging the grave for Scrooge. Scrooge is taken to his plot and sees his name on the tombstone, and is then pushed into the grave by the spirit. As the spirit laughs, Scrooge begs for his life, pleading that he will change. As he falls, he finds that he is back in his own room, arriving home on Christmas morning. Scrooge rushes outside, and starts his day by making a huge donation to the two men from yesterday. Scrooge then runs into his nephew Fred, and accepts the invitation to Christmas dinner before going shopping. He rushes over to Cratchit’s house, and pretends to be the same old Scrooge. He soon reveals his new demeanor, making Cratchit his partner and giving him a raise. The film ends with a celebration in the Cratchit house, with Scrooge acting as another father to Cratchit’s children.