Run Time: 86 Minutes
Starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge this is my father’s favorite version of the film. Alastair plays a much more laid back and arrogant version of Scrooge. In the other versions I’ve scene Scrooge is mostly played as a grumpy old man. Critically this is heralded as the finest adaptation and the one that is the closest to the original works. Although the entire backstory with Mr. Jorkin is not in Dickens story.
The film opens on a bookshelf with copies of Charles Dickens books in identical binding with very ominous music playing. A hand removes the book and sets it down opening it to a montage of the film credits and the music switches to “Hark the Herald Angel Sing.” This is the adaptation that uses this song in such a prominent role. In the 1932 release it is the opening & closing credits and Tiny Tim sings it. In the 1938 release it used in the opening & closing credits and is sung by the parishioners at the church service.
After the credits a narrator opens with the first line of the book as the camera goes into the page fading too a scene of Scrooge having a conversation with two men that ends with Scrooge saying Christmas is a Humbug. Outside the hall he is stopped by a man who owes him money begging for more time so he doesn’t go to debtors prison.
Entering his counting house Scrooge is confronted by two men looking for a donation for the poor and destitute while Cratchit takes his coat. The men are dismissed and Fred promptly enters to invite his Uncle to Christmas dinner. Scrooge tosses him from his office. Fred stops off in the outer parlor to speak with Bob Cratchit.
Tiny Tim is shown looking through a display window of some nice mechanical toys. His mother comes from the butcher shop with their giant prize goose and they head off home. Back at the counting house Scrooge begrudgingly grants Cratchit Christmas day off, hits up his favorite dive restaurant before heading home where the image of Jacob Marley greets him on his door knocker. The effects were good on this.
Scrooge retires to his room where strange noises signal the arrival of Marley. He appears on screen in a transparent state, the effects are quite good. Marley delivers his message of the arrival of the spirits before departing.
The Ghost of Christmas Past is a long hair angelic elderly man who take Scrooge back to him as a teen at the boarding school where he believes he is being left for the holiday. His sister Fran arrives to take him home, in this version Fran appears to be older where as in the 1938 version she was younger. She died giving birth to Fred, as Scrooge’s mother died giving birth to him which is why Scrooge doesn’t like Fred, similarly as to why Scrooge’s father didn’t like him.
Next we are at Fezziwig’s for the party, Scrooge is scene with his lady Alice pledging his love to her. Sometime later Fezziwig is shown refusing to sell to a Mr. Jorkin while Scrooge looks on from his clerks table. Mr. Jorkin lures Scrooge to turn on Fezziwig.
We are now at Fan’s bedside where Scrooge watches his sister die and with her death his heart turns to stone. He leaves the room before she can say her finals words which is asking Scrooge to take care of her son. Old Scrooge begs forgiveness and cries.
Man this Past segment is really long compared to other versions. Mr. Jorkin introduces Scrooge to Marley upon Scrooges start working for him. Scrooge and Marley eventually buy out Mr. Fezziwig turning his warehouse into their counting house. Alice comes back into the picture where she breaks up with him because he loves gold more than she.
We travel a few years into Scrooges life and find out that Mr. Jorkin is being charged with embezzlement. Scrooge and Marley show their shrewdness by buying the company from the shareholders at 50% the going rate. We travel to apparently to 7 years in Scrooges past to the night when Mr. Marley died. He was sent for at 5:45 but at the shop didn’t close until 7pm he said he would go at the end of the business day. Scrooge arrives to find Marley near death who tells Scrooge to change his ways but Scrooge doesn’t get the message.
Finally the past is over and we get to the Ghost of Christmas Present. Once again the spirit is represented by large robbed man surrounded by a feast. A touch of his robe and we are off into the celebration of that Christmas. First up is a throng of people around the fireplace singing, yup, “Hark the Herald Angel Sing.” Next we see Bob Cratchit with Tiny Tim on his shoulder, once again eldest daughter Martha is hidden to play a joke on Bob that she’s not coming for Christmas this year. Peter’s collar is ridiculously huge, Bob goes to toast Scrooge and his family balks at the sentiment.
We segue to Fred’s who also toast his crotchety Uncle before breaking into dance. Quickly we fade to Alice who is taking care of the sick and indigent. The present leaves Scrooge in the street and the future appears in the form of a clocked being with only and extended hand exposed.
Our first stop in the future is at the Cratchit household where everyone is saddened because Tiny Tim has died. We cut to a group of people who are happy to see someone has died and they have taken this persons belongings to sell to Joe the pawn broker. We see the men that Scrooge was talking to at the beginning of the film, they make disparaging remarks about the recently deceased as well. Scrooge starts to realize it might be him. The cemetery is the last stop where Scrooge sees his own tombstone and vows to change his ways.
Scrooge awakens in his room to the knocking of his laundress a new man loving life and Christmas too. His exuberance and happiness scare her. He tries to do an handstand in his chair and she runs screaming from the room. Scrooge gives her a raise and the day off.
Scrooge hires a passing boy to buy the prize turkey to send to Cratchit. Goose must have been cheaper than Turkey then. The Cratchit’s receive the turkey but it doesn’t say who its from. For some reason Tiny Tim feels that is was Mr. Scrooge, but no one else does.
Scrooge arrives at Fred’s surprising all in attendance. He apologizes to Fred’s wife, for some reason and not Fred. Then they all break into dance with Scrooge and niece-in-law leading the way.
The next morning Cratchit arrives at the counting house late while Scrooge pretends to work. Scrooge makes like he’s going to fire Cratchit but instead raises his salary. This Scrooge wants to help’s Bob whole family and not just Tiny Tim.
The narrator returns with Scrooge now having become a loved community member. Tiny Tim calls out Uncle Scrooge and runs crutchless jumping into his arms before fading to black.
This was a good flick, but I still maintain that the 1938 version is my favorite.