Wednesday, December 11, 2013

'You Wish to Be Anonymous?' | Alastair Sim (1971)

Index of other entries in The Christmas Carol Project

As we noticed last year with Fred, Chuck Jones' Scrooge is mostly an unemotional fellow. I wondered if that might be a flaw of the animation and voice acting, but with the solicitors I see that it's a deliberate choice.

As Fred leaves Scrooge's office, the solicitors come in and Scrooge rolls his eyes. It's impossible to tell if he's doing that because of his encounter with his nephew or if it's at the prospect of yet another interruption. Since he doesn't yet know why they're here, it reminds me of the rudeness of Reginald Owen's Scrooge. I can see why people go with that choice, but it makes Scrooge less human and more of a caricature. I like to think that this one is rolling his eyes at his nephew, just at an inopportune time.

As the very portly men explain their purpose in visiting, Scrooge taps his face drowsily with his quill. He asks them about the prisons and workhouses, but he's calm and sounds genuinely inquisitive. He's playing with them, even making pathetic faces as he talks. Like with Fred, there's no passion in the scene, but with these two men Scrooge is at least replacing his traditional anger and frustration with something else. It's a weird something else, but the result of both scenes is an aloof, cold-hearted Scrooge who's completely in control.

That's further supported in his reciting some of the solicitors' dialogue before they have a chance to. By the end of the scene, he's literally carrying both sides of the conversation and they don't even have a chance to recite the line about being anonymous. There's no doubt where he stands and they leave as soon as he wishes them a polite, but firm "good afternoon."

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