Saturday, December 13, 2014

“If Quite Convenient, Sir" | Scrooge McDuck (1983)

Index of other entries in The Christmas Carol Project

Because Mickey's Christmas Carol is balancing the characters' personalities with the established personalities of the "actors" playing them, Scrooge and Cratchit's relationship is a lot different here than in the other versions. Like the Carl Barks/Duck Tales Uncle Scrooge, Ebenezer Scrooge is a happy miser and his stinginess is played for laughs. And a couple of Mickey's defining traits are his pluck and optimism, so his Cratchit has that too. That means that he's more assertive than usual.

We already saw how Cratchit jumped into Scrooge's conversation with Fred when Scrooge started to get the better of his nephew. It's also Cratchit who brought up getting some time off for Christmas Day; not at closing time, but back when Scrooge first showed up at the office. That's all classic Mickey.

But there's also some traditional Cratchit, too. Mickey will stand up for the right thing to a point, but Cratchit's timidity - and Scrooge's large personality - keeps Mickey from taking over the role. So we have Cratchit's doing Scrooge's laundry and getting only a half day off on Christmas (unpaid).

Already though, there's affection between the two characters. Scrooge lets Cratchit leave a couple of minutes early, eliciting a genuine, "Thank you, sir! You're so kind!" from his clerk. Scrooge's response to the compliment is, "Never mind the mushy stuff!" And as Cratchit leaves, he accidentally wishes his boss a "Bah, Humbug" that he boldly changes to "Merry Christmas." Scrooge's "Bah" in response in almost warm.

Scrooge's problem in this version isn't that he's completely unfeeling, it's just that he lets his greed keep him from doing the right thing by people. Like the Rankin Bass version, this is a simplified Scrooge, but it's a fuller approach than the one Rankin Bass took. We're meant to like and root for Scrooge, not just judge and pity him.

There are no street scenes or carollers directly connected to this scene, but the adaptation covers that ground in other ways. We got lots of Christmas busyness and celebration in the opening shot as Scrooge walked to his counting-house (no social commentary about the poor in this one, outside of the charitable solicitors' remarks of course). And Cratchit's sliding scene is unnecessary, too.

When I was writing about the Richard Williams cartoon the other day, I noticed that it distances the viewer from Cratchit. I didn't remember until later that Dickens does the same thing. In fact, he doesn't even give us Cratchit's name right away, but just calls him "the clerk." The sliding scene is the first glimpse that Dickens gives us to any kind of joy in Cratchit's life or that he's even an important character at all. Mickey's Christmas Carol has already shown us both of those things.

1 comment:

Wings1295 said...

Interesting how what many would assume is a simple version finds its depth in different ways. We have this on the DVR to watch again this year. :)


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