Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Dickens of a Movie

This has been an extremely busy week, in part because I've been correcting finals for one of my online classes, but we did take time out one evening to watch Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol on TV.

TCM actually showed two versions of the story that night - the short (69 minutes) 1938 version starring the Lockhart family as three of the Cratchits, and Scrooge, the 1970 musical version starring Albert Finney in the title role.  Barry bailed on the musical after the first song but we watched all of the other movie.

A Christmas Carol has been filmed at least four other times.  Barry and I have seen the 1951 movie starring Alastair Sim, the 1984 version with George C. Scott, and 1988's Scrooged with Bill Murray.  We have yet to see the 1999 film with Patrick Stewart as Scrooge.  Of those we have seen, by far our favorite is the 1951 black-and-white version.  The special effects are quite convincing (the doorknocker that turns into Marley's head terrified me when I saw this in grade school), Michael Hordern is far and away the best, most desperate-appearing Marley, and no one can match Alastair Sim as Scrooge.  Both his initial misanthropy and his gradual conversion to Christmas' biggest booster are extremely convincing.  At 115 minutes 1951 film is also the longest, and contains scenes such as the bone-chilling division of Scrooge's effects after his death that were left out of the short versions.

We haven't seen the 1951 version scheduled yet this season, but that's OK because we have an ace in the hole; we have it on tape.  Of course, by now we've watched the tape so often that it's almost worn out.  I may have to give Barry the DVD as a stocking stuffer this Christmas.

"Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it." ~Charles Dickens,  A Christmas Carol

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