Friday, December 13, 2013

'You Wish to Be Anonymous?' | Scrooge McDuck (1983)



Index of other entries in The Christmas Carol Project

Possibly because Mickey's Christmas Carol puts as much value on humor as on faithfulness to Dickens, its Scrooge is arguably the most relatable version ever. As I've mentioned before, Disney's Scrooge isn't a miserable miser; he's a merry one. Unlike most other Scrooges, he gets joy out of his wealth and has a robust sense of humor. That's never more evident than in his encounter with the charitable solicitors, played in this version by Rat and Mole from The Wind in the Willows. (I used to get Rat confused with Basil from The Great Mouse Detective, because of his pipe and hat, but that character looks completely different.)

When Rat and Mole enter, Scrooge first thinks that they're Fred, coming back to irritate Scrooge some more. And why not? He quickly realizes his mistake though and warmly welcomes the pair, now thinking that they're customers. And again, why wouldn't he? For all his silliness, this Scrooge behaves more rationally around prospective customers than either Reginald Owen or the cartoon version of Alastair Sim.

Of course, when their true purpose is revealed, Scrooge changes his tune, but not dramatically or even noticeably. He has this in common with the cartoon Sim: he has a private joke at their expense. In Disney Scrooge's case, he cheerfully defeats them with logic, pointing out that if they give money to the poor, they won't be poor anymore, which means that Rat and Mole won't have to raise money for them anymore and will be out of a job. "Oh, please, gentlemen," he concludes. "Don't ask me to put you out of a job. Not on Christmas Eve!"

As he does this, he shows them outside, almost without their even realizing it. Once there, he turns nasty and throws Fred's wreath at them, saying that they can give that to the poor. Finally rid of them, he states outright his problem with charity: "What's this world coming to, Cratchit? You work all your life to get money, and people want you to give it away." It's the most clear - and again, relatable - rationale for Scrooge's bad behavior that we'll ever get in any version.

I'm not saying that a rational, relatable Scrooge is preferable to the more sinister, dramatically wicked versions, but it's a unique take and I'm glad it exists.
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