Thursday, January 31, 2013


At the beginning of the month, Robert Pope asked me which version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL is my favorite and why?

My absolute favorite version is the book by Charles Dickens, but I know that's not what you meant. Most of the versions, even the ones that I don't find to be rewarding overall have at least some element to them I that I like a lot, and often times better than the way that same element is presented in a superior adaptation.

Overall though, the movie version of A Christmas Carol that I like best is Scrooge, the 1951 adaptation starring Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge. I haven't seen it (or any other version of A Christmas Carol) in a number of years, but this is the one I turn to most often. Sim is great as Scrooge, and the whole film has a feel to it that seems like it comes from an earlier age. It also has Ernest Thesiger precisely cast as the undertaker and Patrick Macnee, surprisingly, as the young version of Jacob Marley. The whole cast is good and so are the ghosts.

I'm also very fond of Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962), which when you eliminate the songs, the razzleberry dressing, and the songs about razzleberry dressing is a very serious and stirring adaptation and the ghosts -- all of the ghosts are really creepy.

Finally, I also really loved the Doctor Who "A Christmas Carol" from 2011, which is a very loose adaptation which still hits all of the main plot points of the Dickens story even though it's set on another planet, features suspended animation, sharks that swim through the air and Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra. It's a very moving story with Michael Gambon as the Scrooge character and is also one of my two favorite episodes of the current Doctor Who series. 

I'm curious to know what Robert Pope's favorite adaptation is (or anyone else who might want to chime in in the comments below). 


Michael May said...

I get impatient with the extended Christmas Past sequence in Sim's version, but he's my favorite Scrooge too.

A close second though is George C. Scott's version. I've always been fond of it, but I've come to appreciate his performance even more in the past couple of years for how it humanizes the character.

Michael Caine is also brilliant in the Muppets version.

Obviously, I put a lot of importance on the main character, but I'm like you with the rest of it. I like different versions for particular elements or scenes, so it's hard to pick an absolute favorite.

Michael May said...

Meant to mention Mickey's Christmas Carol too. Perfect example of how to adapt and abridge the story to a shorter format, making it funnier, while also staying true to the Dickens characters and the iconic "actors" portraying them. It's pretty remarkable.

Robert Pope said...

Oh, you are the man, my friend. The Sim '51 version is IT. Like all adaptations, it extrapolates quite a bit, but the backstory regarding the death of Fen adds all kinds of pathos, and the scene where he makes good with Mrs. Dilber is so good it's, well, damned near EVERYTHING about that version is perfect, and as you mentioned, somehow from another time. Tiny Tim is devoid of much of the saccarine quality that poisons many other versions, and the Cratchit family is nicely fleshed out and seems quite real. Runners-up include Mickey's Christmas Carol, and there's a lot to like about Albert Finney's SCROOGE musical, aside from the totally unneccesary and totally stupid "Scrooge in Hell" sequence, which was usually cut for time from the syndicated versions.

John Rozum said...

There are things that I really like about both the George C. Scott and the Albert Finney versions, mostly both of those actors as Scrooge.

I haven't seen Mickey's Christmas Carol in a long time, but will watch it next year. I do own it.

Michael Jones said...

Late to the ballgame but I, too, really like the Sim-city.
For updated remakes, I'd go for Scrooged.
What tv show CC adaptation do you like? I gotta go with WKRP.