Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

A blog dedicated to the making of the first animated Christmas special, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Unknown Christmas Carol

In several previous posts, I've discussed material that did not make it into the final production.  Items of interest continue to surface and I thought I would list them here.  It is by no means complete as I expect there is even more material to be found.  There is some repetition from both the book and this blog but I thought I would create as complete a list as possible.  (Above, the cat who never was, just outside the back entrance of the restaurant.)

Title sequence-The original titles started with a long shot of buildings with flashing neon signs.  Two of those signs flashed Timex, the show's original sponsor.  The camera then panned over to the existing title card of Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.  Title length was the same; the current version cycles the show's title card to cover the missing Timex credit.  

Prologue-As I mentioned in the book, the original version of the song, "Back on Broadway", included an entire middle section of in which the waiters at the deli chime in at key moments in the song.  Styne and Merrill sang those lyrics in their demo recording and the extant sheet music also contains those lyrics. A recently discovered photocopy of a layout shows that at one point, we did go inside the restaurant with Magoo.
Inside the theater-Another recent discovery shows a much more intimate version of the well-used audience shot.  It went through at least one more iteration before the final version we know from the film.
Scrooge's office-After Scrooge puts on his coat and scarf and exits, there was a scene of him at his front door in which he turns off the light and exits, slamming the door.  The folder with the cels of the lighting masks still exists, sans Magoo.

Scrooge's walk home-Here you can see an extremely rare deleted composite layout by Bob Singer from Scrooge's walk home in the snowstorm.  This came immediately after he exited what is now the last scene in that sequence.  Scrooge would have walked through the scene on the sidewalk in front of the hot chestnut vendor. The next scene which starts the following sequence shows him approaching his house.  
Scrooge's house-The original Marty Murphy storyboards for this sequence show the inside of Scrooge's house in a scene almost identical to the deleted background on p. 67 in the book, where the door slams behind Scrooge, foreshadowing Marley's arrival.  Based on a surviving production draft, that material was never even laid out.  However, the background in the book was meant for a scene in which a "pulsating shape turns into Marley's ghost". Below, Shirley Silvey's layout showing Marley's ghost after he is no longer a "pulsating shape".  It's believed that the shape moved from the left of the railing to end in this final position.
Visit by Marley's Ghost-Apparently, the scene in which Scrooge cringes as Marley's ghost flies over him before exiting did not have the ghost's shadow passing over Scrooge in the 1962 version.  The folder for that scene has a retake date of 8/31/1963 in which the shadow pass was added.  Curious that almost a year later, they were making changes to the picture.

The Ghost of Christmas Past-Apparently, Lee Mishkin had a more aggressive approach to this ghost's visit. 
Scrooge's visit to his school-The previous post on Bonus Features for the upcoming DVD had a picture of a character, Mrs. Halsey, that was designed, inked and painted but cut from the final film.

Fezziwig's/Winter Was Warm-As mentioned in the post Christmas Belles, this entire sequence was re-animated after being laid out, animated, inked, painted and shot with a different model of Belle.  Also discussed in the book, "Winter Was Warm" was over twice as long, with an instrumental interlude and a second verse.

The Ghost of Christmas Past's exit-Shortly after the 32 minute mark, in Belle's parlor, the Ghost tells Scrooge, "One shadow more."  There is a ripple dissolve to limbo, with Scrooge pleading on his knees, when the Ghost laughs and rises up out of the scene.  The "one shadow more" sequence would have been where Scrooge sees Belle's future life with her husband and children.  It's the only deleted sequence to actually have been assigned a sequence number and it's odd that the scenes would have been laid out with a continuity break, even if the sequence had been deleted in the storyboarding stage. What seems likely is that the missing sequence had been at least laid out, if not animated, but no drawings or cels have yet been discovered for this sequence.

End bumper-The end of the original show had a short Timex bumper, boarded and laid out by Bob Singer, wishing the viewers "a very Merry Christmas" and reminding them that "More people give Timex than any other watch in the world."  (Below, a composite board made from two pages of Singer's boards.)

End credits-Another retake from the 1962 version; during September of 1963, the end credits were reshot, changing two cards.  It appears that Lee Orgel had once again been given Associate Producer credit, the same credit he received on Gay Purr-ee.  In both cases, Orgel functioned as Producer but was denied the screen credit (i).   I have found no paperwork regarding why this credit change was implemented but Orgel did leave UPA in 1963, apparently unhappy that promised profit participation in Christmas Carol and Gay Purr-ee was not forthcoming.  

The other credit that was changed was the second to last card and although there is nothing to indicate the precise change, a reasonable guess is the addition of Stephen Bosustow's credit,  Mr. Magoo created under the supervision of Stephen Bosustow. As part of Saperstein's 1960 agreement with Bosustow to buy the company, UPA was contractually bound to include this particular credit on all Mr. Magoo productions.

(i) Originally, Peter DeMet, Henry Saperstein's business partner, was to receive Producer credit on Gay Purr-ee but that credit was deleted, perhaps due to his exit from UPA's affairs.  No one receives Producer credit in the final film; Orgel had to settle for Associate Producer.


Craig said...

Just GREAT!!!

joecab said...

Thank you! That continuity break with the Ghost of Christmas Past always bugged me as a kid. It wasn't my imagination after all.

Anonymous said...

Another fantastic post--keep 'em coming and we will keep reading. Thanks, DJA

Craig Gustafson said...

I just finished reading the book tonight and loved it.

This may have been covered in the new edition (or on the DVD commentary), but I'm thinking the reason for putting Christmas Present before Christmas Past has more to do with the music than the story.

Having Present go first puts "The Lord's Bright Blessing" in the first half of the show, with the reprise in the second half. It also puts the one really upbeat song in the show ahead of "Alone in the World" and "Winter was Warm", so viewers wouldn't go, "Wow... this is just depressing!" and tune out.

Same Anti-Depressant reason for having "The Plunderer's March" where it is. It's the Big Comedy Number Just Before the Climax, a la "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" (Kiss Me, Kate), "Gee, Officer Krupke" (West Side Story) and "You Gotta Get a Gimmick" (Styne's Gypsy).

Darrell said...

Excellent theory. Considering Styne's and Merrill's experience in musical theater, the change might very well have come from them.