Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol
Mr. Magoo headlines a production of "A Christmas Carol" on Broadway, playing the Miserly Mr. Scrooge, who is given a chance by the spirit world to renounce his greedy ways and become a good man.
Spoiler Level: It's A Christmas Carol. How do you spoil something everyone has seen?
Mr. Magoo was a fictional cartoon character created in 1949 by the UPA animation studio. Voiced by Jim Backus, J. Quincy Magoo was a wealthy retiree who suffered from extreme near sightedness which he refused to admit was a problem. His lack of eye site would land him into all sorts of troublesome adventures that by sheer luck would all work out in the end.
In this 1962 retelling of the classic Dicken’s tale, Mr. Magoo is starring on Broadway in a musical stage production of the story. His nearsightedness making him late and leaving chaos in the wings, Mr. Magoo is pushed on stage and the rest of what we are watching is Mr. Magoo playing Ebenezer Scrooge in a Broadway production of “A Christmas Carol”.
The story is the standard plot, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by 4 spirits that try to convince him to change his soul. Through showing him memories of his past, scenes of his present and his impending doom in the future, he is transformed from a cold-hearted miser to a warm generous person. As a cartoon aimed at kids of all ages, Mr. Magoo as Scrooge is more of a caricature. Sitting in his office exclaiming how much he loves money and even singing a song about it. The normal Magoo mishaps due to his eye-sight are played down, with nods to character throughout. Like looking at a painting and thinking it is himself in a mirror for example.
There were a couple changes to the plot. Most notably, the production swapped the order of the ghosts. Marley remained the first spirit to appear, but then the Ghost of Christmas Present jumped ahead of the Spirit of Christmas Past. Usually it flows from Marley, Past, Present, and then Future. I have no explanation for the change accept to possibly for timing and for song distribution. In addition, the storyline with Scrooge’s nephew was cut and the plot involving Belle, Ebenezer’s fiancé was shortened to one scene, both were most likely due to time constraints and to keep the story interesting to children. Otherwise, most of the story was left intact. The movie wraps up by bringing the house down. Literally. Due to his nearsightedness, Mr. Magoo basically destroys the sets as the audience is applauding and in perfect Magoo fashion, he is oblivious to what is happening around him. Ending with his catch phrase, “Ah, Magoo, you’ve done it again, and by George, I’ve brought down the house!” .Classic!
For me, I grew up on reruns of Mr. Magoo cartoons. Watching this Christmas story told in such a way stirs wonderful memories of incredibly happy childhood Christmases, stirring feeling of deep nostalgia of a simpler era. The production value is very dated using the classic animation style and color schemes of its day. Jim Backus, most known for playing Mr. Howell on “Gilligan’s Island”, has the perfect voice for the bumbling character, with subtle delivery of lines mumbled in perfect cadence. The rest of the voice cast is also exceptionally good. The songs were written by Jule Styne with lyrics by Bob Merrill (Both famous Broadway song writers) are well placed and fun to watch. Two standout songs “We’re Despicable” and “Winter Was Warm” are personal favorites of mine.
If you are interested in seeing what animated Christmas specials were like in the early 60’s, then this is a must see. For many of us, this will bring back the memories of a simpler time and tug at the nostalgic strings in your soul.
Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol: Oh Magoo, you’ve done it again!
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Acting - 10/1010/10
Music - 9/109/10
Production - 9/109/10
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