“A Merry Christmas, Ebenezer! You old humbug! Oh, and a Happy New Year! As if you deserved it!” The definitive adaptation of Charles Dickens’ timeless 1843 classic, A Christmas Carol (released as Scrooge in the United Kingdom) is one of three holiday films I enjoy watching multiple times around Christmas (the others being A Christmas Story and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation). I remember when I was young that A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life could be viewed just about any time of the day on most channels during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Now you’ll be lucky if you can catch A Christmas Carol once or twice on TCM during the holidays (and who feels like sitting through the entire It’s a Wonderful Life, complete with commercials every five minutes, on Christmas Eve?). Oh well, I have a well-worn copy of A Christmas Carol on DVD. In A Christmas Carol, Alastair Sim masterfully portrays the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge from his initial bitterness and apathy to his remarkable redemption and empathy at the film’s conclusion. In my opinion, it’s simply one of the greatest performances in film history. After a warning from the ghost of his former partner, “Jacob Marley” (Michael Hordern) on Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by three spirits: “Ghost of Christmas Past” (Michael J. Dolan) “Ghost of Christmas Present,” (Francis de Wolff) and “Ghost of Christmas Future” (C. Konarski). My favorite scene is when Scrooge arrives at his nephew Fred’s Christmas party and apologizes to his wife (Olga Edwardes): “Can you forgive a pig-headed fool with no eyes to see with and no ears to hear with all these years?” Directed by Brian Desmond Hurst (with a screenplay by Noel Langley) the film features a wonderful cast that includes Mervyn Johns as “Bob Cratchit,” Kathleen Harrison as “Mrs. Dilber,” George Cole as the “Young Ebenezer Scrooge,” Ernest Thesiger (Bride of Frankenstein) as “Marley’s Undertaker,” Jack Warner as “Mr. Jorkin” (who does not appear in Dickens’ novel), Hermione Baddeley as “Mrs. Cratchit,” Carol Marsh as “Fan,” Brian Worth as “Fred,” Rona Anderson as “Alice” (known as “Belle” in Dickens’ novel), Glyn Dearman as “Tiny Tim” and Patrick Macnee as “Young Jacob Marley.” Peter Bull (Dr. Strangelove), who also has a bit role as a businessman, serves as narrator.
Useless Trivia: Both Sim and Hordern would reprise their roles (voices only) in Richard Williams’ 1971 animated version of A Christmas Carol, which won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.