Scrooge (1951 film)

Last updated

Scrooge
Scrooge - 1951 UK film poster.jpg
UK quad poster
Directed by Brian Desmond Hurst
Screenplay by Noel Langley
Based on A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
Produced byBrian Desmond Hurst
Stanley Haynes
Starring
Narrated by Peter Bull
Cinematography C. M. Pennington-Richards
Edited by Clive Donner
Music by Richard Addinsell
Production
company
Distributed by Renown Pictures
Release dates
Running time
87 minutes [2]
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

Scrooge (released as A Christmas Carol in the United States) is a 1951 British Christmas fantasy drama film and an adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol (1843). It stars Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge, and was produced and directed by Brian Desmond Hurst, with a screenplay by Noel Langley.

Contents

Brian Desmond Hurst, producer and director of Scrooge (A Christmas Carol), in 1976 (portrait by Allan Warren) Brian Desmond Hurst. Allan Warren.jpg
Brian Desmond Hurst, producer and director of Scrooge (A Christmas Carol), in 1976 (portrait by Allan Warren)

The film also features Kathleen Harrison as Mrs. Dilber, Scrooge's charwoman. George Cole stars as the younger Scrooge, Hermione Baddeley as Mrs. Cratchit, Mervyn Johns as Bob Cratchit, Clifford Mollison as Samuel Wilkins, a debtor; Jack Warner as Mr. Jorkin, a role created for the film; Ernest Thesiger as Jacob Marley's undertaker; and Patrick Macnee as the younger Jacob Marley. Michael Hordern plays Jacob Marley's ghost, as well as the older Jacob Marley. Peter Bull serves as narrator, by reading portions of Charles Dickens' words at the beginning and end of the film; he also appears on-screen as one of the businessmen talking with Scrooge (at the beginning of the film) and discussing Scrooge's funeral (as witnessed by Scrooge with the Ghost of Christmas Future).

Plot

On Christmas Eve 1843, Ebenezer Scrooge tells two businessmen that he has no intention of celebrating Christmas. At his workplace, he refuses to donate to two men collecting for the poor. His nephew, Fred, invites him to dinner the next day, but Scrooge refuses, disparaging Fred for having married against his will. Scrooge reluctantly gives his poor clerk Bob Cratchit a paid holiday, but expects him back to work earlier the next day.

Scrooge returns home and sees the door-knocker transform into the face of his long-dead partner, Jacob Marley. Inside the house, Jacob Marley appears as a ghost before Scrooge, warning that he must repent or suffer being forever bound in chains after death. He further warns Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits; the first will arrive at one o'clock. Frightened by the visitation, Scrooge takes refuge in his bed.

At one o'clock, the Ghost of Christmas Past arrives. Scrooge is shown himself alone at school, unwanted by his father ever since his mother died in childbirth. His beloved sister Fan arrives to take him home, telling her brother that their father has recently had a change of heart toward Ebenezer. Next, the Spirit shows Scrooge the annual Christmas party thrown by his benevolent employer Fezziwig. He witnesses his proposal to his sweetheart Alice, who accepts his ring. He is then shown how he is tempted to leave Fezziwig's to join a business run by Mr. Jorkin, where he meets Jacob Marley.

After Jorkin's firm buys up Fezziwig's failed business, Alice breaks her engagement to Scrooge because of his dedication to "a golden idol." Scrooge witnesses the death of Fan, who had just given birth to his nephew Fred, and discovers he missed her last words asking him to look after her son. Years later, when Jorkin is found to have embezzled funds from his now-bankrupt company, Scrooge and Marley make good on the missing funds, essentially taking over. On Christmas Eve 1836, Scrooge refuses to leave work early to visit Marley, who is on his deathbed. When Scrooge finally arrives, Marley, realizing he will be punished for his misdeeds, tries to warn Scrooge against his avarice before he dies. The Spirit reproaches Scrooge for taking Marley's money and house, as an ashamed Scrooge finds himself back in his bed.

Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present who takes him to see how "men of goodwill" celebrate Christmas. He shows him poor miners joyfully singing Christmas carols and the Cratchits' warm Christmas celebration. Scrooge asks whether their disabled child, Tiny Tim, will survive his physical condition, but the Spirit hints that he may not. They next visit Fred's Christmas party, where Fred defends his uncle from his guests' snide remarks. Alice is working in a poorhouse, where she lovingly ministers to the sick and homeless on Christmas Eve. When Scrooge is unable to tell the Spirit that he may profit by what he has seen, the Spirit shows him two emaciated children – personifying Ignorance and Want – and pointedly mocks and scourges Scrooge with the miser's very own words when Scrooge shows concern for their welfare: "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"

Scrooge encounters the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, who shows him the Cratchits mourning Tiny Tim's death. He then watches as three people, including his charwoman Mrs. Dilber, sell off the possessions of a dead man and two businessmen discussing the man's funeral proposals. When shown the man’s grave bearing his own name, Scrooge begs the Spirit for a second chance, pleading "I'm not the man I was." He awakens in his own bed to learn from Mrs. Dilber that it's Christmas Day and realizes he still has an opportunity to make amends. Though Mrs. Dilber is initially frightened by his transformation, Scrooge reassures her and promises to raise her salary. He anonymously purchases a turkey dinner for the Cratchits and delights Fred by attending his dinner party and dancing with the other guests.

The next day, Scrooge plays a practical joke on Bob Cratchit, pretending to dismiss him for being late but instead giving him a raise. Scrooge becomes "as good a man as the old city ever knew" and a second father to Tiny Tim, who does not die and gets well again.

Production

Teresa Derrington, who played Fred's maid and gives Scrooge quiet encouragement to see Fred, said Alastair Sim was not as encouraging to her during filming, and asked her sneeringly if it was her first film role. [3]

Music

Richard Addinsell wrote several pieces for the film's underscore, ranging from dark and moody to light and joyous. One of the more notable tunes is a polka, used in the two different versions of Fred's dinner party: the one Scrooge observes while with the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the other with Scrooge attending the party after atoning for his past coldness to Fred and his wife. The tune is similar to a traditional Slovenian polka called "Stoparjeva" ("hitchhiker") or just "Stopar".

The film also contains excerpts from some traditional Christmas carols and other tunes. "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is sung over part of the opening credits, and by the miners when Scrooge is with the Ghost of Christmas Present. An instrumental version of "I Saw Three Ships" is played when Scrooge gives a coin to Mrs. Dilber, and again just before the end of the film. "Silent Night" is played and sung at various times, including over the last part of the final scene and "The End".

The English country dance "Sir Roger de Coverley" is played and danced during the scene where Scrooge visits the office of Old Fezziwig with The Ghost of Christmas Past.

The tragic folk song "Barbara Allen" is played as an instrumental when young Scrooge is talking with his sister Fan, and sung by a duet at Fred's Christmas party. Scrooge turns up in the middle of the line "Young man, I think you're dying," thereby causing the singers to stop before the last two words.

Comparison with the source material

In the film, Mrs Dilber is the name of the charwoman, whereas in the book the woman was unnamed and the laundress was named Mrs Dilber. The charwoman's role is greatly expanded in the film, to the point that she receives second billing in the list of characters.

The film also expands on the story by detailing Scrooge's rise as a prominent businessman. He was corrupted by a greedy new mentor, Mr. Jorkin (played by Jack Warner, a familiar British actor at the time) who lured him away from the benevolent Mr. Fezziwig and also introduced him to Jacob Marley. When Jorkin, who does not appear at all in Dickens's original story, is discovered to be an embezzler, the opportunistic Scrooge and Jacob Marley offer to compensate the company's losses on the condition that they receive control of the company for which they work – and so, Scrooge and Marley is born.

During the Ghost of Christmas Present sequence, Scrooge's former fiancée, Alice, works with the homeless and sick. The character is named "Belle" in the book, and becomes a happily-married mother of several children.

The film also posits that Ebenezer's sister died while giving birth to his nephew, Fred, thus engendering Scrooge's estrangement from him. We are also told that Ebenezer's mother died while giving birth to him. This causes his father to resent him just as Ebenezer resents his nephew, and also means that Ebenezer has to be younger than Fan. In the book, Fan is much younger than Ebenezer, and the cause of her death is not mentioned.

Release

The film was released in Great Britain under its original title, Scrooge. United Artists handled the U.S. release under the title A Christmas Carol. The film was originally slated to be shown at New York City's Radio City Music Hall as part of their Christmas attraction, but the theatre management decided that the film was too grim and did not possess enough family entertainment value to warrant an engagement at the Music Hall. Instead, the film premiered at the Guild Theatre (near the Music Hall, and not to be confused with the Guild Theatre which showcased plays) on 28 November 1951. [5]

Home media

The film was released on Blu-ray in 2009 by VCI, in a package that also included a DVD copy of the film, cropped into a faux widescreen format. This package only contained minimal bonus features. It was issued again on Blu-ray in 2011 with a remastered transfer, and many bonus features that did not appear in the first Blu-ray edition.

Reception

Box-office

The film was one of the most popular in Britain in 1952, [6] [7] but was a box office disappointment in the United States.

However, the film became a holiday favourite on American television where it was broadcast regularly during the 1950s and 1960s. [8]

Critical reaction

Bosley Crowther of The New York Times posted a favourable notice, writing that producer Brian Desmond Hurst "has not only hewed to the line of Dickens' classic fable of a spiritual regeneration on Christmas Eve, but he has got some arresting recreations of the story's familiar characters," adding, "The visions of Scrooge's life story are glimpses into depressing realms, and the aspects of poverty and ignorance in 19th century England are made plain. To the credit of Mr. Hurst's production, not to its disfavour, let it be said that it does not conceal Dickens' intimations of human meanness with artificial gloss." [5] Richard L. Coe of The Washington Post was also positive, writing, "This may not be A Christmas Carol of recent tradition, but I've an idea it's the way Dickens would have wanted it. It's the way he wrote it." [9] Harrison's Reports called the film "delightful entertainment," finding that "though it does have its somber moments it ends on so cheerful a note that one cannot help but leave the theatre in a happy mood." [10] John McCarten of The New Yorker was also mostly positive, writing that "there's enough good here to warrant the attendance of all save the hardest of heart." [11]

Variety , however, called the film "a grim thing that will give tender-aged kiddies viewing it the screaming-meemies, and adults will find it long, dull and greatly overdone." [12] Time magazine ran a mixed review, criticising the direction while praising the performances. [13] In Britain, The Monthly Film Bulletin was also mixed, finding that the film "as a whole lacks style" and that Sim resembled more a "dour dyspeptic" than a miser, but nevertheless concluded that "the film may please in its good-natured reminder of Christmas joys, and much praise is due to Kathleen Harrison for her inimitable playing of the true Cockney." [14]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Mister Magoos Christmas Carol</i> 1962 animated musical holiday television special

Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol is a 1962 animated musical holiday television special produced by UPA. It is an adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1843 novella A Christmas Carol, and it features UPA's character Mr. Magoo as Ebenezer Scrooge. The special first aired on December 18, 1962, on NBC and was the first animated Christmas special to be produced specifically for television.

<i>Scrooge</i> (1970 film) 1970 film by Ronald Neame

Scrooge is a 1970 musical film adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1843 story A Christmas Carol. It was filmed in London between January and May 1970 and directed by Ronald Neame, and starred Albert Finney as Ebenezer Scrooge. The film's score was composed by Leslie Bricusse and arranged and conducted by Ian Fraser. With eleven musical arrangements interspersed throughout, the award-winning motion picture is a faithful musical retelling of the original.

<i>A Christmas Carol</i> (1938 film) 1938 American Christmas film directed by Edwin L. Marin

A Christmas Carol is a 1938 American film adaptation of Charles Dickens's 1843 novella of the same name, starring Reginald Owen as Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who learns the error of his ways on Christmas Eve after visitations by three spirits.

<i>Christmas Carol: The Movie</i> 2001 animated film by Jimmy Murakami

Christmas Carol: The Movie is a 2001 British live action/animated film based on Charles Dickens's 1843 classic novella A Christmas Carol. Directed by Jimmy T. Murakami, the film features the voices of numerous actors including Simon Callow, Kate Winslet, Kate's sister Beth Winslet, and Nicolas Cage. The film was a critical and commercial failure upon release.

<i>A Christmas Carol</i> (TV special) 1971 animated film

A Christmas Carol is a British-American animated adaptation of Charles Dickens's 1843 novella. The film was broadcast on U.S. television by ABC on December 21, 1971, and released theatrically soon after. In 1972, it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

<i>A Christmas Carol</i> (1984 film) 1984 US television film directed by Clive Donner

A Christmas Carol is a 1984 British-American made-for-television film adaptation of Charles Dickens' famous 1843 novella of the same name. The film was directed by Clive Donner, who had been an editor of the 1951 film Scrooge, and stars George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge. It was filmed in the historic medieval county town of Shrewsbury in Shropshire.

<i>A Christmas Carol</i> (2004 film) 2004 television film based on a 1994 stage musical

A Christmas Carol: The Musical is a 2004 American musical television film based on the 1843 novella of the same name by Charles Dickens, which also inspired a 1994 stage musical by Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens.

<i>A Christmas Carol</i> (1999 film) Television film directed by David Jones

A Christmas Carol is a 1999 British-American made-for-television film adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1843 novella A Christmas Carol that was first televised December 5, 1999, on TNT. It was directed by David Jones and stars Patrick Stewart as Ebenezer Scrooge and Richard E. Grant as Bob Cratchit. The film was produced after Patrick Stewart performed a series of successful one-man shows of A Christmas Carol on Broadway and in London.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mr. Fezziwig</span> Fictional character

Mr. Nigel Fezziwig is a character from the 1843 novella A Christmas Carol created by Charles Dickens to provide contrast with Ebenezer Scrooge's attitudes towards business ethics. Scrooge apprenticed under Fezziwig. Despite this, the older Scrooge seems to be the very antithesis of Mr. Fezziwig in appearance, actions, and characterization. Mr. Fezziwig is portrayed as a jovial, foppish man with a large Welsh Wig.

<i>A Christmas Carol</i> (2006 film) 2006 animated film by Ric Machin

A Christmas Carol is a 2006 British-German computer-animated Christmas film. It is an adaptation of the 1843 Charles Dickens tale, and was produced by BKN International and BKN New Media, and was the first release in BKN's "BKN Classic Series" anthology of computer-animated direct-to-video films.

Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge is a musical comedy written by Christopher Durang, a parody of the Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol. Durang was commissioned by Pittsburgh City Theatre Artistic Director Tracy Brigden to write a Christmas comedy. The show premiered November 7, 2002 at the City Theatre with Kristine Nielsen in the title role.

<i>Rich Littles Christmas Carol</i>

Rich Little's Christmas Carol, broadcast in Canada as A Christmas Carol, is a TV special that premiered on CBC Television in December 1978, and in the United States on Home Box Office (HBO) on December 16, 1979. It was produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1978. It starred Rich Little in a one-man performance with impersonations of his characters playing the parts in Charles Dickens' famous 1843 holiday story, A Christmas Carol. Little played the following celebrities:

<i>A Christmas Carol</i> (2009 film) 2009 film directed by Robert Zemeckis

A Christmas Carol, is a 2009 American computer-animated Christmas fantasy adventure film written and directed by Robert Zemeckis. It is based on Charles Dickens's 1843 novel of the same name and stars the voices of Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, Robin Wright Penn and Cary Elwes. The film was CGI-animated through the process of motion-capture, a technique used in Zemeckis's previous films The Polar Express (2004) and Beowulf (2007). It is Disney's third adaptation of the classic story, following Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983) and The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), and one of only two films produced by ImageMovers Digital.

Adaptations of <i>A Christmas Carol</i> Works based on the novel by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol, the popular 1843 novella by Charles Dickens (1812–1870), is one of the British author's best-known works. It is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a greedy miser who hates Christmas, but is transformed into a caring, kindly person through the visitations of four ghosts. The classic work has been dramatised and adapted countless times for virtually every medium and performance genre, and new versions appear regularly.

<i>A Christmas Carol</i> (1982 film) 1982 Australian made-for-television animated film

A Christmas Carol is an Australian made-for-television animated Christmas fantasy film from Burbank Films Australia as part of the studio's series of Charles Dickens adaptations from 1982 to 1985. It was originally broadcast in 1982 through the Australian Nine Network. Based on Charles Dickens' classic 1843 English story, A Christmas Carol, the adaptation by Alexander Buzo was produced by Eddy Graham and directed by Jean Tych.

<i>Scrooge</i> (1935 film) 1935 British fantasy film directed by Henry Edwards

Scrooge is a 1935 British Christmas fantasy film directed by Henry Edwards and starring Seymour Hicks, Donald Calthrop and Robert Cochran. Hicks appears as Ebenezer Scrooge, the miser who hates Christmas. It was the first sound version of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, not counting a 1928 short subject that now appears to be lost. Hicks had previously played the role of Scrooge on the stage more than 2000 times beginning in 1901, and again in a 1913 British silent film version. This was the first film to be released by the Twickenham Film Distributors, Ltd., founded by Julius Hagen and Arthur Clavering. Hagen acted as producer for the new company, with Clavering handling film distribution.

A Christmas Carol is a musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and book by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens. The musical is based on Charles Dickens' 1843 novella of the same name. The show was presented annually at New York City's Paramount Theatre in Madison Square Garden from December 1, 1994, to December 27, 2003.

<i>Scrooge & Marley</i> (2012 film) Film

Scrooge & Marley is 2012 film adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1843 novella A Christmas Carol, which is retold from a gay perspective, co-directed by Richard Knight Jr. and Peter Neville, and co-written by Knight, Ellen Stoneking, and Timothy Imse. It also features David Pevsner as Ebenezer "Ben" Scrooge, Tim Kazurinsky as the ghost of Scrooge's business partner Jacob Marley, Ronnie Kroell as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Megan Cavanagh as the Ghost of Christmas Present, David Moretti as Bob Cratchit, and JoJo Baby as the Ghost of Christmas Future. The film adaptation received a mixed critical reception.

<i>The Right to Be Happy</i> 1916 film

The Right to Be Happy is a 1916 American silent Christmas fantasy film directed by Rupert Julian. The film is based on the 1843 novella A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The movie stars Rupert Julian as Ebenezer Scrooge and Claire McDowell as Mrs. Cratchit.

A Christmas Carol is a 2020 British Christmas drama dance film directed by Jacqui Morris and David Morris and based on Charles Dickens' 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. It features the voices of Simon Russell Beale, Siân Phillips, Carey Mulligan, Daniel Kaluuya, Andy Serkis, Martin Freeman and Leslie Caron. It received mixed reviews from critics.

References

  1. "Of Local Origin" . The New York Times . 23 October 1951. p. 35.
  2. "Scrooge (U)". British Board of Film Classification . 24 September 1951. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  3. 1 2 "Dickensblog: Meet the maid: An interview with Theresa Derrington Cozens-Hardy" . Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  4. "David Hannaford".
  5. 1 2 Crowther, Bosley (29 November 1951). "The Screen In Review; Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol,' With Alastair Sim Playing Scrooge, Unveiled Here". The New York Times. p. 41.
  6. "Robert Beatty in boxing picture". The Mail . Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 31 January 1953. p. 3 Supplement: SUNDAY MAGAZINE. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  7. Thumim, Janet. "The popular cash and culture in the postwar British cinema industry". Screen. Vol. 32, no. 3. p. 259 via Internet Archive.
  8. Werts, Diane (2006). Christmas on Television. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. p. 14. ISBN   978-0-275-98331-4.
  9. Coe, Richard L. (14 December 1951). "'Scrooge' Differs From Other Carols". The Washington Post. p. B7.
  10. "'A Christmas Carol' with Alastair Sim". Harrison's Reports . 3 November 1951. p. 174 via Internet Archive.
  11. McCarten, John (8 December 1951). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. p. 67.
  12. "A Christmas Carol". Variety. 14 November 1951. p. 16 via Internet Archive.
  13. "Cinema: The New Pictures" . Time. Vol. 58, no. 23. 3 December 1951.
  14. "Scrooge". The Monthly Film Bulletin . 18 (214): 359. November 1951.