Dw. Dunphy On… “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol”

It is solely through bias that I consider Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol the best version of Charles Dickens’ oft-interpreted story of a miser who, through the efforts of the supernatural, comes to recognize the validity of not just the holiday, but his fellow man. It’s a tall order, considering there are three hundred bazillion versions of this story out there, including a de-holiday-ized Matthew McConaughey chick flick iteration in the form of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. My affection goes way beyond that, however. I’ll go out on a limb to say it’s easily one of my top five holiday specials.

Historically, Magoo’s is the first animated holiday special, airing all the way back in 1962 and sparking something of a golden age of television. Magoo’s presence begat Rudolph, Frosty and my number one, A Charlie Brown Christmas. That one, like Magoo, doesn’t get bogged down in the modern Christmas iconography and manages to tell a story of redemption, humanity and forgiveness, but where Charlie Brown has become an annual tradition, Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol sort of hangs by the wayside. It’s a shame, really, because not only is the story relatively faithful to the source material, it’s also funny and genuinely moving. It also benefits from having stellar songs from the writing team of Bob Merrill and Jule Styne, elevating the musical theater concept of the special beyond mere likeness. These were pros doing what they had on shows previously and would famously do in Funny Girl.

scroogemagooSincerely, I don’t know how a tune like “Winter Was Warm” could fall through the cracks. Did the association with being in a “cartoon” keep it from becoming a standard? I suspect the lack of a soundtrack album has something to do with that. Also, Jim Backus’ vocals as Ebenezer Scrooge are faithful to the Magoo persona, meaning that voice is not really meant for musicals, but it comes across perfectly, embittered in one song and broken-hearted in the next. It’s fortunate that the show is on DVD, since there are handfuls of specials I vaguely recall that have never even shown up on VHS, let alone DVD. Not only is it great that you can pick this classic up and share it with your friends and family, but the DVD allows the slightly tech-savvy to pull together something like what you’ll find below.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to present the songs of Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, written by Jule Styne with lyrics by Bob Merrill.

Overture

It’s Great To Be Back On Broadway

Ringle Ringle

The Lord’s Bright Blessing

Alone In The World

Winter Was Warm

We’re Despicable (Plunderers March)

Alone In The World Reprise

Ringle Ringle Reprise

The Lord’s Bright Blessing Finale

Credits (Winter Was Warm)

And, of course, if this is your first experience with the show, you might want to pick up Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol from Amazon.com.

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  • Jeff

    Yes. Absolutely. I waited for it every year while growing up in the '60s. I was delighted to get a VHS tape of this years ago, and delighted it's out on DVD.

  • Bob

    Really well done, Dw. Thank you!

  • kingofgrief

    I first saw Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol during the '81 season, and was fortunate enough to catch it twice that year. Local airings have been sporadic ever since, so I was happy to find the DVD release a few Christmases ago. It's now an annual must-watch with the wife, alongside Charlie Brown, Emmett Otter and the MST3K edition of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Our nephew was born in January, and I hope to pass the ritual on to him when he's old enough to comprehend. (I'm wondering if this should be his introduction to the story itself. Why not?)

    Thank you very much for saving me the labor of fashioning my own soundtrack. I second the notion that “Winter Was Warm” should be a cover staple, and “The Lord's Bright Blessing” and “Alone in the World” wind up on my mental loop for days after my yearly viewing. The former permanently introduced the world “razzleberry” to my vocabulary.

  • Tom

    Oh I concur! That “Alone in the World” song reduces me to a quivering mass of goo every time I hear it. (Which probably says more about my psychological problems than anything else, but there you go.)

  • http://jimattulgeywood.blogspot.com/ Jim

    Thanks for your perceptive thoughts on this overlooked Christmas classic. Did you know there is a newly published book detailing the creation of this great animated special, with all kinds of art and behind the scenes photographs? It's called Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol: The Making of the First Animated Christmas Special, written by animation historian Darrell Van Citters. I wrote about it on my blog: http://jimattulgeywood.blogspot.com/2009/12/boo
    I also posted the TV Guide ad/coverage from the original 1962 broadcast: http://jimattulgeywood.blogspot.com/2009/12/lor

  • http://jimattulgeywood.blogspot.com/ Jim

    Thanks for your perceptive thoughts on this overlooked Christmas classic. Did you know there is a newly published book detailing the creation of this great animated special, with all kinds of art and behind the scenes photographs? It's called Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol: The Making of the First Animated Christmas Special, written by animation historian Darrell Van Citters. I wrote about it on my blog: http://jimattulgeywood.blogspot.com/
    I also posted the TV Guide ad/coverage from the original 1962 broadcast. Thank you—JIM

  • Jane

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

  • DK

    Thanks so much for sharing these! My 7 year old loves this DVD and I couldn't find the songs anywhere.

  • Pingback: A Quirky Eclectic Christmas Music Playlist (2009 ed.)()

  • rendave

    Great page! Do you know of a CD that has these?

  • rendave

    Great page! Do you know of a CD that has these?

  • Lsachleben

    Last night I went to bed thoroughly dissapointed after watching the new animated Jim Carrey version which, though far superior technically, lacks all the heart and soul of the story.
    I lay there racking my brain trying to remember the songs from McGoos Christmas and was suprised at how much I could recall as I haven’t watched it in years. But I remember as a little girl, being moved to tears by Ebinezar as a little boy in the empty schoolroom singing All Alone in the World. “Where are the shoes to click to my clack”….still makes me want to cry!

  • http://www.popdose.com DwDunphy

    No CD of this is available, but we have just re-posted the article, so there’s that. Get ‘em while they’re hot.

  • http://www.popdose.com DwDunphy

    We have just re-posted the article, so you’ll be able to check those songs out again. Get ‘em while they’re hot.