A Grumpy Christmas

19 Dec
Alastair Sim as Scrooge. Courtesy of Times Colonist

Alastair Sim as Scrooge. Courtesy of Times Colonist

On this date 171 years ago Charles Dickens published his novella, A Christmas Carol, and introduced us to one of the most miserable, miserly grumps who ever lived–the infamous Ebenezer Scrooge. Hundreds of adaptations of this Christmas ghost story have been created since that time in every form imaginable, including film, television, opera, stage and animation. The book itself has never been out of print and remains popular almost two centuries later.
Last night on Turner’s Classic Movie channel (one of my favorites!) two Scrooge films were featured: 1935’s Scrooge starring Seymour Hicks and 1970’s Scrooge starring Albert Finney. I enjoyed Seymour Hicks performance as Scrooge, but the film itself lacked the emotional impact I was hoping for. Albert Finney is one of my favorite actors but his 1970 Scrooge film is actually a musical, which struck me as an odd way to interpret the story. I have to wonder if the success of Oliver!, the 1968 musical that garnered 14 Academy Awards the year before (including Best Picture) was the main reason the producers chose to jump on the musical bandwagon for this adaptation of Scrooge. Except I kept comparing it to Oliver! which I vividly remember seeing at the movie theatre when I was 12, and Finney’s film couldn’t compete.
Everyone has a ‘must see’ movie at Christmas; for Christmas isn’t Christmas without it. For my husband (and his three brothers and three sisters) it was The Sound of Music. For me, the movie is 1951’s A Christmas Carol starring Alastair Sim. My father and I would watch this movie every Christmas, and the first time I saw it I shivered in my slippers. Everything from Sim’s portrayal of Scrooge to the three ghosts to the soundtrack to the plot is absolutely mesmerizing. Ebenezer’s transformation on Christmas morning still brings me to tears.
Yes, the film is old, black and white and the special effects are dated … but if you are in the mood for Dickens at Christmas, dig up this old classic featuring the world’s most famous Grump. You won’t be disappointed. 

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