With the Christmas season upon us I wanted to take a look at a couple versions of the classic Charles Dickens tale A Christmas Carol.
My all time favorite version of Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” is the 1938 release starring Reginald Owen as Scrooge. I have watched other versions but not for a very long time. My dad loves the Alastair Sim’s version. I decided to search Roku for other versions and came across this one. So I thought I would watch and compare them.
Run Time: 78 minutes
Twickenham Film Studios (United Kingdom)
I found this for free on a Channel called Snag Films. This is the first sound version of the Christmas Carol story.
Seymour Hicks plays the titular roll of Scrooge and he had previously played him on stage as well as in a 1913 silent film version.
Opens in the street with a trio playing music before fading to the back of who I assume is Scrooge. Camera pans to a cold Bob Cratchit who attempts to put coal in the fire, Scrooge threatens to fire Cratchit. Fred shows up invites his uncle to dinner and makes his speech about how great Christmas is, Cratchit applauds and Scrooge threatens to fire him.
Closing time and Scrooge grants Cratchit the day off and of course threatens to fire him if he isn’t early the next day. Cratchit heads home through the busy streets of London. Appears to buy a Turkey. Scrooge goes to a nearly vacant restaurant.
Next we cut to scenes of several upper crust residents arriving at a large party. Then down to the kitchen where kids beg from the window. The cooks throw the kids scraps. Next we cut to the dining room where the Mayor of London introduces the Queen and everyone rises singing “God Save the Queen.”
Back to Scrooge who is not a good tipper. Scrooge gets home and they are able to show Marley’s face on the knocker, Scrooge doesn’t react. Once in his room Scrooge settles in for the evening. A bell rings indicating someone is at the front door, Scrooge checks and no one is there. Suddenly the voice of Jacob Marley is heard but he is not visible on the screen. Marley lays out what is going to happen tonight similar to other versions of the film. Scrooge appears to be able to see Marley but we cannot, we can only hear him. Either there was an issue with effects or that was how it was meant to be.
At one o’clock the Ghost of Christmas Past appears, it is a man and only a bright outline can be scene. He shows us the past cutting to a younger Scrooge in his counting house talking to a young couple and I think he basically foreclosed on their home. They leave in tears as a woman enters, it appears to be Scrooge’s girlfriend. She is appalled at his actions and how unforgiving he is. He asks for her hand in marriage. She very dramatically says no. Old Scrooge is sad. Next the ghost shows Scrooge kids singing and dancing around a Christmas Tree, oh it’s the woman that rejected Scrooge, she is married with a litter of kids.
Scrooge awakens in bed and it’s two o’clock the Ghost of Christmas Present is a large man eating a large feast. Scrooge touches his robe and we go directly to church getting out. Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim are leaving walking home. In the Cratchit house all the kids are very excitable as they sit down to eat their goose. They toast to Scrooge, Tiny Tim sings “Hark the Herald Angel Sing.”
Scrooge awakens in bed and it’s three o’clock the Ghost of Christmas Future has arrived. We don’t see the Ghost just the shadow of his pointing finger and over-sized sleeve. A group of men stand around talking about someone who has died and how they wonder what they did with his money. Next they cut to a pawn broker where Scrooges laundress and the undertaker and selling items they have stolen from someone. They laugh about the fact that someone has died. Cut to a sad Bob Cratchit standing over a dead Tiny Tim. The Ghost takes Scrooge to the cemetery and shows Scrooge his own grave and he loses it.
It’s Christmas morning, Scrooge his happy to be alive. His laundress brings Scrooge breakfast. He sends a boy off the get the prize turkey while he gets ready. Cut to Fred’s house where Scrooge crashes the party. He wishes everyone a Merry Christmas, cries at tree and they sit down to eat.
We cut to the next day with Bob heading off to work late, he get’s there at 25 past nine in the morning. Scrooge pretends to be angry then raises Bob’s salary and promises to be a second father to Tiny Tim, but not his 5 other kids. He then sends Bob home to be with his family with Scrooge declaring Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone as we fade to black.
The external scenes of this movie are very dark where as the internal scenes are very well lit. A lot of the dialogue is similar to the 1938 version which I know is pulled from the book. Scrooge’s sister Fan and Fezziwig are not in this version. I’ve never seen a version before that has the Mayoral party with the unseen Queen while the patrons sing.
It was a decent flick. I still like the 1938 release better, but I’m glad to have watched this.