HTF REVIEW: Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Nov 1, 2001.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

    Beggers can't be choosey!
    For the past two years I had been asking the
    folks at Paramount to look into releasing the
    annual Holiday favorite, Mr. Magoo's Christmas
    Carol to DVD. Last time it appeared on the
    VHS format, it was released under the Paramount
    label.
    Paramount didn't seem to take much of an interest
    in releasing the title, and it was sort of a
    shock when I suddenly found out recently that
    GOODTIMES VIDEO had acquired the rights to this
    DVD.
    It's great to finally have this classic on the
    greatest video format to date. Unfortunately,
    justice has not been done to the transfer.
    The image quality is good, though the print
    is full of occasional specks and film scratches.
    The colors are somewhat pale and the audio is
    presented in Dolby digital mono. I can't say
    I was overly enthusiastic about the quality of
    the audio coming from my speakers.
    In addition, the SPECIAL FEATURES aren't
    very special at all. Most of the extra biography
    material is text that you step through page-by-page.
    There's a picture of the original poster, and also
    a bonus Mr. Magoo cartoon short whose image quality
    is severly lacking.
    Scene selection is limited to only 6 points of
    the film, and there is no easy access to individual
    songs.
    Still, I suppose I must be thankful that this
    film made it to DVD. It's a terrific tribute
    to the Dicken's classic with a memorable score
    by Jule Styne.
    Perhaps I am being a bit unfair to this DVD.
    After all, we are talking about a cartoon feature
    that was released in 1962. This isn't a Disney
    film that any studio would really pay too much
    attention to properly restoring. I am curious as
    to whether an original stereo track existed for
    this film.
    Anyone that grew up with this heartwarming
    holday favorite owes it to themselves to own
    it on DVD. Just don't expect the image or audio
    to be on par with most of the animated material
    available on the format.
    ------------------
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    Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
    Circa 2000
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  2. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Thanks for the review. Any chance you could review the new Rudolph and Island of Misfit Toys?
    ------------------
    13-time NBA world champion Lakers: 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000, 2001
     
  3. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

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    Since it was a made-for-TV special from 1962, I seriously doubt that they made a stereo track for it, unless the songs were recorded in stereo for a vinyl LP release at that time.
    By the way, Ron, what is the title of that bonus Mr. Magoo cartoon short included on the DVD?
     
  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Peter,
    You know what? I never knew, in all these
    years, that this was not a theatrical release,
    but rather, a television special. Are you certain
    of this? I ask because I saw this film theatrically.
    In fact, there is an included movie poster photo
    in the supplement area.
    The included Magoo short is: "Magoo Meets
    McBoing Boing"
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    Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
    Circa 2000
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  5. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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  6. Peter M Fitzgerald

    Peter M Fitzgerald Screenwriter

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    Ron,
    Thanks for the posting the short's title. MAGOO MEETS MCBOING BOING is one of the made-for-tv Mr. Magoo cartoons from 1960, even though both Magoo and Gerald McBoing Boing originally starred separately in (far superior) theatrical cartoon shorts in the 1950s, made by UPA Productions.
    Since there's a movie poster for the show, and you remember seeing it in a theater, there's no doubt it was shown that way --afterwards. It was shot on film, as were all cartoons made in that era, but MR. MAGOO'S CHRISTMAS CAROL is notable for being the very first made-for-TV animated holiday special, pre-dating by two years both Rankin-Bass' RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (1964) and A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS (1964). It premiered on NBC, on December 18, 1962. It ties in with a Magoo TV series UPA was making around that time, THE FAMOUS ADVENTURES OF MR. MAGOO, in which Magoo played famous characters from history and literature (Cyrano de Bergerac, George Washington, etc).
    UPA did produce a true Mr. Magoo animated feature film, 1001 ARABIAN NIGHTS (1959), released to theaters by Columbia, but MAGOO'S CHRISTMAS CAROL was likely given "kiddie matinee" play in theaters later in the late-1960s/early-1970s (after several network airings in the mid-1960s), probably bundled together with a couple of Magoo shorts to stretch the running time past an hour, or maybe as a co-feature to 1001 ARABIAN NIGHTS (do you remember one of these scenarios being the case, Ron?). My source for this isn't IMDB, but rather animation books, specifically Jeff Lenberg's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ANIMATED CARTOONS (1991, published by Facts On File).
    [Edited last by Peter M Fitzgerald on November 02, 2001 at 12:58 PM]
     
  7. Jeff Aguilar

    Jeff Aguilar Stunt Coordinator

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    The knowledge conveyed on this forum is truly amazing!!!
    Jeff
     
  8. Brian W.

    Brian W. Screenwriter

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    George, I saw "Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys" several months ago, when we did some post-production work on it where I work. I can't comment on the picture/sound quality, since I saw it on a computer, but I will comment on the content.
    I have to say, it pretty much sucks. It was not produced by Rankin/Bass. Their names don't even appear in the credits anywhere; they appear to have had nothing to do with this production, a fact which is painfully obvious: they never did anything this bad. The songs are no good, and the script is so-so at best. Nothing clever or amusing about the writing. Not one catchy tune in the whole thing -- well, maybe the last song is somewhat catchy. But Rankin/Bass produced happy shows, and there is nothing happy about "Island of Misfit Toys."
    It was influenced much more by "Nightmare Before Christmas" than by any of Rankin/Bass' work. It's very similar in tone to "Nightmare," and so are the songs -- dull, repetive, stilted, and non-melodic. (But if you are one of "Nightmare's" admirers -- and I know it has many -- you might actually enjoy this.)
    The voices are fairly convincing approximations of the original actors, and of course, all the characters LOOK exactly the same. I'll admit, it was a thrill to see all these classic characters in a new incarnation. But that could not win over the lame plot, charmless dialogue, and dopey, amateurish songs. But I will probably buy it anyway -- maybe it'll grow on me.
    [Edited last by Brian W. on November 03, 2001 at 10:10 PM]
     

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