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  • Writer's pictureRob Freese

ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar- Day 7

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar- Day 7

A big part of Christmastime growing up was watching all the animated holiday specials that came on. It didn't matter what they were, my little brother were parked in front of the set, Jiffy Pop popcorn between us and ice cold Hi-C to wash it down. This was before VCRs, so when we found out something was coming on, we planned our whole day around it. It's nice that these specials are still around to continue to be enjoyed.

Warning: Spoiler Alert! I'm sure everyone is familiar with the classic Charles Dickens' story A Christmas Carol. It's a seasonal paranormal activity tale about a successful businessman who can get no sleep on Christmas Eve because of a bunch of loud, bleeding-heart ghosts. There's been, like, 473 different film versions of it at least. But if you haven't seen any of them before, maybe don't read this first.

ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar December 7- Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962)

We are dropped into this animated special in the middle of the action as we spy a blind-as-a-bat Mr. Quincey Magoo driving recklessly through Times Square traffic on his way to the Broadway theater where he is performing in the blockbuster A Christmas Carol as Scrooge.

When he's on stage, we are drawn into the classic story by Charles Dickens about Ebenezer Scrooge, the most heartless man in all the land. He donates to no charities and does not waste coal on his single employee, Bob Cratchit. ("If you spent more time doing your job you wouldn't feel the cold!") And of course, he doesn't care one bit for Christmas. (When he asks what time Cratchit will arrive in the morning for work, Cratchit reminds him it is Christmas and he's taking time off, Scrooge cries, "You want all day I suppose!")

That night, the ghost of his old partner Marley visits and tells him he's not going to get any sleep because three more ghosts are going to nose into his business. The first is the Ghost of Christmas Present, followed by The Ghost of Christmas Past and ending with the Ghost of Christmas Future, which includes a horrifying scene of Scrooge witnessing the homeless people who have looted his house while his dead body was still in bed!

When Scrooge awakens he's suddenly so ate up with the Christmas spirit he gives all his money away and hangs out with his poor employee's family on the bad side of town. He thinks money fixes anything, and gives a bag of coins to Tiny Tim, who is handicapped with a bad leg, and tells him basically to go get fixed.

Dickens' A Christmas Carol is a solid story that always makes for a great film adaptation and Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol is no exception. For kids who grew up watching Mr. Magoo cartoons in the late fifties, they had to have been excited when this appeared on NBC in December of 1962. This was the first animated Christmas special, appearing a couple years before Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) and A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965).

In fact, it proved to be so popular, it was coupled with another Magoo short feature, Mr. Magoo's Little Snow White, and released theatrically as Mr. Magoo's Holiday Festival!

The film takes some liberties with the source material by mixing the appearances of the ghosts up from the original telling, but it works and is less confusing for little people who first watched it with commercial breaks.

Jim Backus does the voice of Magoo, of course, and it's fun to imagine Thurston Howell III in a sound booth belting out the opening ditty It's Great to be Back on Broadway, and barking out every "Broadway!" with gusto.

Other voice talent includes Morey Amsterdam, Jack Cassidy, Royal Dano, Jane Kean, Paul Frees and Les Tremayne.

I couldn't help but notice that a good bit of this animated feature was repurposed for 1988's Scrooged with Bill Murray.

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