Commentary

“A Christmas Carol”

In December 1843 Charles Dickens wrote his most beloved story, “A Christmas Carol”.  It has been immortalized in numerous films both on the large and small screen.  “A Christmas Carol” is probably the most often filmed story in the history of cinema.  Not all versions of this classic deserve a second viewing.  We all have our favorite version.  Hopefully I can show you a new version that you may not know about.

I can’t go a Christmas without watching “A Christmas Carol”.  In fact, the character of Ebenezer Scrooge has become part of our culture.  “Bah, humbug!” is a common way of saying that we are not in the Christmas spirit.  The story is one to which we can all relate.  Everyone has at a time felt like Scrooge in some way, meaning that we are not always generous and caring at all times.  It shows us that there is always redemption possible, even for an outcast such as Scrooge.

1938 – A Christmas Carol – Reginald Owen.  I am watching this edition for the first time.  It’s the shortest at 1 hour, 9 minutes.  Overall, the movie is tries to be lighthearted.  Reginald Owen is probably the meanest Scrooge of the six listed here.  The musical score is invasive, but that is to be expected for the period.  This movie feels dated.  Most seem timeless, but not this version.

1951 – A Christmas Carol (UK: Scrooge) – Alastair Sim.  This is the quintessential version of “A Christmas Carol”.  It is a perennial favorite and is seen as the definitive version of this classic.  Alastair Sim’s portrayal of Scrooge is over the top, but well performed.  It is a favorite of critic Leonard Maltin, one person who is hard to please.  Sim’s turnaround is stunning.  He’s a classically trained actor that brings something special to the part.  If nothing, watch this for Sim and the able augmentation of the story.

1970 – Scrooge – Albert Finney.  This musical edition is absolutely dreadful.  I can only say that there is a lining to the cloud of this movie: the musical number “Thank You Very Much.”  The showstopper is so nice they did it twice in the movie.  Albert Finney uses the most ridiculous voice.  His lack of singing ability is also quite awful.

1984 – A Christmas Carol – George C. Scott.  In my opinion, this is the best portrayal of Scrooge.  It not over the top.  In fact, compared to Alastair Sim it seems to be understated.  The casting is superb, although the Ghost of Christmas Present looks like something from an 80s music video.  I can’t say enough good about this version.  It is my favorite.

1992 – The Muppet Christmas Carol – Michael Caine.  The songs by Paul Williams are infectious.  The muppet acting is first rate, though to be expected for this troupe of actors.  I thoroughly enjoy this version.  It follows the story religiously and deserves a place in line with the other versions of the story.  It is for adults as for kids.

1999 – A Christmas Carol – Patrick Stewart.  Stewart turns in an excellent performance as Scrooge.  His transformation is one of the most convincing.  I really like this version, which is technically one of the most accurate, almost slavish, toward the original.  Joel Grey’s makeup makes him look like he’s 100 year old.  They lit him in a soft glowing light, but forgot it in a few shots.  It’s my only real criticism of this movie.  It’s my mom’s favorite version.