Title: A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
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richiedoo
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(Date Posted:09/30/2006 04:59)

I'm sure we have all seen some version of Scrooge during X-mas. Of course the version that everyone always seems to like best was the one starring Alistair Sim. The movie was eventually colorized as was many other B&W classics. In colorizing such movies,one assumes that the picture quality would be much more pristine and cleaner. Although Scrooge was no exception when colorized,there were 2 noticeable flaws compared to its B&W counterpart...The first being the part where Jacob Marley's ghost came thru Scrooge's door. As Scrooge was eating his soup,the door flew open and Scrooge tossed his bowl and yelled out a frightening scream. The scream he let out was absent from the B&W version. Was this audible original or added to the color print?Also,the part where Scrooge was standing over his gravestone. Upon realizing it belonged to him,he let out a long and painful whine just before dropping to his knees(the whine blended in nicely with the music). The color print trimmed off almost all the whine he let out lessing the dramatic effect of the scene.
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(Date Posted:09/30/2006 07:49)

Hold on to your hat for this one R.D.: The flawed copy is the black & white VHS version! The color version, while also altered, is closer to the original motion picture than the VHS version.

However, the only version of this movie that was ever available completely uncut and unedited in both picture and sound was the original BETA release -- and fortunately I have it! I also still have my Betamax player, but this year I'm going to have it burned to DVD.

Joe and I have talked about this extensively, as we are both huge fans of this holiday classic, and we cannot fathom why the sam hell they felt the need to alter this masterpiece. 

This 1951 film is the definitive and quintessential version of "A Christmas Carol" (AKA "Scrooge"). It was one of the most brilliantly acted, directed and photographed movies of all-time -- Christmas or otherwise, and is universally accepted as being the greatest screen version of Charles Dickens' legendary classic. Alastair Sim gave the ultimate and paradigmatic performance of his life as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. And it is this performance and this movie by which all others are judged. This, needless to say, is one of my most absolute favorite movies of all-time.

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(Date Posted:09/30/2006 19:30)

Hey guru now you have me scratching my head here! The Color print that I saw was the one aired on TV. I have yet to see the color print on VHS or DVD for that matter. The color print on TV was the version that I always considered to be flawed because of the 2 things I pointed out above which did not appear in the B&W version on VHS which I have. Now you're going back to "ancient" times and comparing it with the short lived Beta format and saying that's the only known complete version? Hmmmmm!!! I haven't had anyone mention Beta to me since my baby teeth fell out! LOL
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(Date Posted:10/01/2006 09:24)

My dear Richiedoo,

Scratch your head no longer because you are categorically and unequivocally sadly mistaken...

Colorized VHS Tape:

http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Colorized-Brian-Desmond-Hurst/dp/6302595916/ref=imdbpov_vhs_4/002-1781781-8308061?ie=UTF8

Colorized DVD:

http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Carol-versions-Colorized-Original/dp/B00000F168/ref=imdbpov_dvd_0/002-1781781-8308061?ie=UTF8

Furthermore, I personally don't consider the years of the Beta format as "ancient times" -- unless you're very young and naive.

Now, just so there is positively no ambiguity, and to ensure that you completely understand beyond a shadow of a doubt - here is a timeline:

 

First it was released on Beta, completely uncut and unedited (video and audio) in black & white of course, as it had not yet been colorized.

 

Then it was released on VHS and I noticed differences in the soundtrack - most notably the lack of the sound of Marley's chains dragging on the floor as he approached Scrooge - this after Scrooge asked him who he was. This version was also black & white, as it too predated the colorization. 

 

Next the film was colorized and released on DVD. In this colorized version they edited out two small pieces of video; I noticed one and Joe noticed the other. The one I noticed is Bob Cratchit patting the top of his hat with his hand as he leaves the office to go home for the evening - this after Scrooge has just told him "I'll retire to bedlam." The other piece of video edited out was at the very beginning of the movie - when the hand reaches up to grab one of the books. In the original version of the movie, the opening shot is of all six books on the shelf, then the hand comes into the picture and grabs the third book from the left. In the colorized version, the opening shot already shows the hand grabbing the book. Kudos to Joe for spotting that, because I don't think I ever would have. By the way, the current black & white version on DVD is this edited print that was used for the colorized version - at least on the DVD that I have which has both the colorized and black & white versions on it. I don't have the DVD with just the black & white version alone, but I would venture to guess it is the edited version as well.

 

The upshot is this: The colorized version is closer to the original movie (as released on Beta) sound wise; but the VHS black & white version is closer - actually it's identical, to the original movie (as released on Beta) video wise.

 

 

PS - In the future Richiedoo, I would warn that impugning the integrity of someone who you are trying to acquire information from is highly unadvisable - especially information that you were nescient of.  

 

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(Date Posted:10/01/2006 13:22)

Guru,please don't mis-understand me. The comment(s) that I may go making here are not to be taken in any kind of wrong way or meant to oppose you personally especially since you know so much already which is highly commendable on your part. The remark I made about Beta being ancient was meant to be taken more humorous than literally. Therefore,my apologies to you for insulting your integrity if that's what I did.
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:11/05/2009 14:33)

Apparently the new Blu-ray DVD looks great. Review with screen caps here:
http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film2/DVDReviews47/a_christmas_carol_blu-ray.htm
It also includes a standard DVD but I haven't been able to determine whether or not it's the old version or a standard version of the new transfer. According to comments at a DVD site I frequent (Home Theatre Forum) the new version fixes the missing scream and restores a shot of Fred's wife at the end that was missing on some earlier versions. Reasonably priced at Amazon (16.99). Wish I had a Blu-ray player.




(Message edited by EricSVedowski On 11/05/2009 15:47)
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:11/21/2009 12:44)

I don't own a Blu-Ray player yet either, but if anything makes me want to get one it's to finally see the Alastair Sim's "Scrooge" in all its restored glory, particularly since I've never actually seen this version. My personal favorite has always been the 1938 version with Reginald Owen as Scrooge (titled the same as the original Dickens tale).

If it includes a DVD as well, I might pick it up anyway. It'll be interesting to see what the deal is.

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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:11/22/2009 04:55)


Welcome to the message board, Ralph.

All movie versions of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol are adaptations of the book, which was a short story and had a very basic plotline as compared to the more elaborate movie screenplays. There are also some very distinct differences between the book and these theatrical film adaptations. For example, in the book, Scrooge's beloved sister, Fan, was a younger sister -- not older, as she was portrayed in feature-length film screenplays.

Also in the book, at the end of the story, Scrooge visits his nephew's house; he does not go to Bob Cratchit's house as portrayed in the 1938 MGM film that starred Reginald Owen. Hugo Butler, who wrote the screenplay for this 1938 adaptation, added that twist on the story himself. Another major deviation from the book in this 1938 screenplay (which, parenthetically, I found to be palpably weak) was the firing of Bob Cratchit on Christmas Eve. This was also the brainchild of Hugo Butler's artistic license.

While all movie screenplay adaptations are based loosely on the Dickens short story, the absolute best by far was the screenplay written by the great Noel Langley for the 1951 film Scrooge. This classic and legendary film is the definitive and quintessential version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It was brilliantly acted, directed and photographed and is universally accepted as being the greatest screen version of this timeless literary classic. Alastair Sim gave the ultimate performance of his life and the paradigmatic performance of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. And it is this performance and this movie by which all others are judged.

It is a debatable point as to which movie could be considered the second greatest version of the story; but what is not debatable is that whatever film that would end up being, it would unequivocally be a far distant runner-up.

I hope that you have the occasion to see Scrooge soon; it's an absolute must if you truly love this Dickens story. I guarantee that you won't be disappointed.


Scrooge starring Alastair Sim (1951)



By the way, one of my favorite scenes from the movie is when the Spirit of Christmas Past (played superbly by Michael Dolan) takes Scrooge back in time to the deathbed of his dying sister (played marvelously by Carol Marsh). After struggling to speak to him, which she just couldn't manage because of her weakened state, her brother (Scrooge) was motioned to leave the room. After contemptuously leaving the room and scornfully glancing at the newborn baby (his nephew, who Scrooge blames for his sister's death), the present Scrooge turns to the Spirit of Christmas Past with bitter indignation and rebukes him for bringing him back to that room once again and reliving that horrible memory. That is, until he hears his sister faintly begin to speak again and utter the words that he had never heard so many years before because, unbeknownst to him, after he had left the room, his sister had started speaking with him again, thinking that he was still there. Those last heartbreaking dying words which he was now hearing for the first time were, "Ebenezer, brother, promise me you'll take care of my boy." The devastating revelation of hearing this last desperate, heartfelt request from the only person he had ever really loved was utterly heartwrenching to him -- especially because he had so utterly not fulfilled that request and had pretty much estranged himself from his nephew, never forgiving him for her death. This scene never fails to bring tears to my eyes.


 





(Message edited by Christmas Music Guru On 11/22/2009 13:02)
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:11/22/2009 17:56)

If anyone is interested in the regular DVD (non-Blu Ray), Yestermusic is having a sale on all CDs and DVDs this weekend, with 80% off any purchase of $20.  The promotional code at checkout is BLOWOUT, and the offer is good through November 23rd.  (I know it's short notice, but I only saw the email on Saturday.)  By the time I got to it, things like the Fred Waring 'Christmas Magic' CD were out of stock, but I did get the 1951 "A Christmas Carol", as well as "March of the Wooden Soldiers".

http://www.yestervideo.com/p38971.html

Edited to add:

(Sadly, I just got an email from Yestermusic to say that they did not have "A Christmas Carol" to send to me. 
They worded it as "We are very sorry, but the publisher
notified us just after the latest revision of our web site that the item
listed below has been discontinued and is no longer available.")


(Message edited by RazzleberryDressing On 11/22/2009 20:48)
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:11/23/2009 07:52)

All this talk about "A Christmas Carol" (Scrooge) made me watch the 1951 Alistair Sim version last night.  One part that brings tears to my eyes along with the scene where Fan in her last breath asks "Ebenezer, brother, promise me you'll take care of my boy"., is the scene were Ebenezer shows up at his nephew Fred's house and Ebenezer asks his niece to forgive him and she tells him that he's made Fred so happy and then they dance (I'm not good at remembering direct quotes right now. Even after just watching the movie last night.  Now ask me something that happened 40 years ago and I could probably remember it right away lol)
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:11/23/2009 20:49)


I agree Susan; this was another one of the extremely touching and emotional moments in the movie.

Posted below is a sequence of stills from that very poignant scene.

For those who are not familiar with the film, the first still is Scrooge apprehensively walking into his nephew Fred's house about to accept his invitation to dinner. The next still is Scrooge and Fred shaking hands and then turning to Fred's stunned wife. The next still is her pensive and slightly frightened expression at his sudden appearance. And the last sill is her expression of joy and exhilaration at the sincerity of his transformation after hearing him say with remorse and contrition, "Can you forgive the pig-headed old fool for having no eyes to see with, no ears to hear with, all these years?"


   

  

 
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:11/24/2009 06:11)

Nice pictures to post, Chip. Too bad the lady at the door didn't have any dialogue. She was cute!
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:11/24/2009 09:18)

Thanks Chip for posting the quote from Ebenezer.

Now that I see it in writing, I can remember the quote even though I watched a night or two ago.

Once things settle down here, I hope my short-term memory returns lol

Thinking about another poignant moment from the (1970) Musical "Scrooge" starring Albert Finney, when the Ghost of Christmas Past "Edith Evans" took him back to "Fezziwig's" and then the scene where "Suzanne Neve" Izabel Fezziwig broke off the engagement and then "Older Scrooge" sang  part of "You...You" again.  It always make me cry.  The pure emotion on Scrooge's face.

There are other moments too, but this one even now just thinking about it, I get teary-eyed.  Now I'll have to watch it later tonight lol.


(Message edited by Christmas Always On 11/25/2009 08:53)
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:12/13/2009 13:52)

I just received a couple of interesting variations of A Christmas Carol I'm looking forward to checking out in the coming days. The first is an animated version from 1971 with Alistair Sim reprising his role as Scrooge. The animation reminds me a bit of the movie, Fantastic Planet. The second version is from 1977, the BBC's tv version starring Sir Michael Hordern as Scrooge.

EDIT: Upon taking a peek at the animated version, there's more info to offer up on it. The show is narrated by Michael Redgrave, executive produced by Chuck Jones and directed by Richard Williams (of the Raggedy Ann & Andy Musical Adventure film). As mentioned, Alastair Sim reprises his role as Scrooge, but so does Michael Hordern as Marley! It was really very good, an animated tv special from a time when it was ok to present material like this to kids without dumbing it down or making it cutesy. Only 24+ mins, but still good. Interesting animation, lovely to see this kind of thing instead of all of the CG stuff out there. 

(Message edited by bgart On 12/13/2009 21:34)
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:12/13/2009 16:44)

Here is one thing I always wondered about with almost every version of Scrooge I ever saw. I guess the producers or maybe Mr. Dickens himself left it up to the imagination of the audience, but why was the face of the sprit of Christmas future never revealed and why did he have no dialogue? It always remained a question mark on my mind for many years. In the version with Alastair Sim, an outline of the spirit's face can be seen briefly at the ending scene of the 3 folks that are cashing in on Scrooge's belongings. Always wondered if that was a mistake or not.
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:12/13/2009 21:42)


Rich,

In the movie adaptations of A Christmas Carol, the reason why the spirit of Christmas future's face is never revealed and why he had no dialogue is because that is how Charles Dickens wrote it in the book. 

In the book, Dickens describes the spirit of Christmas future as being shrouded in a deep black garment which concealed its head and face, only leaving visible one outstretched hand. He also wrote that the spirit was tall, stately and did not speak.


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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:01/22/2010 07:46)

Hello everyone, I was just watching the 1938 Reginald Owen, version that was on TCM last month and though I can't find the thread where I was asking about the constable/town crier coming upstairs as Scrooge reported an intruder in his house.  It was from this version that scene was in.  It was right after the town crier was shouting "10 O'Clock and all is well" While Marley's ghost was there.

I haven't finished watching this version, so I don't know if it is the same that is on my BETA or if it is the edited VHS/DVD Version that they aired last month.  I remember Chip talking about them deleting a few words here and there in this version.
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:01/22/2010 22:04)


Susan,

The thread you are referring to was "Favorite Christmas Movie Moments."

By the way, the film where small portions of scenes were deleted was the colorized version 1951's Scrooge.


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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:01/23/2010 06:09)

Oh ok, Thanks Chip,

I knew there was one version that had been edited a little and for some reason thought it was the 1938 version.

There are so many versions out there, it is easy to confuse them. i.e. in the 1938 version Scrooge made Fred his partner, but in another version, I believe he made Bob his partner.

In the 1938 version, he also fired Bob before the Ghost's visited him. while in other versions, he gave Bob the impression on December 26th that he was going to fire him.
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:03/07/2010 10:55)

Hi Chip

Let me give you and your readers some info on the different versions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL/SCROOGE that we all watch during the holidays and even throughout the year in the case of the 1951 version because as Leonard Maltin had said in his review of that verison is that it is just too great of a film to only watch it during Christmas.

The 1935 English version SCROOGE starring Seymour Hicks is pretty enjoyable but was eclipsed by MGM's 1938 version A CHRISTMAS CAROLl starring British actor Reginald Owen, this version was to originally star Lionel Barrymore who performed the role on the radio during the 1930's and was considered the definitve portrayal but Mr Barrymore could not play the role in the film as around the time the filming was to start he would be suffering severly from athritis and wheel chair bound.  This version gained immense popularity via its tv airings on CBS TV stations usually 12pm or 1am Christmas Eve/Christmas Mornings during the late 1950's and throughout the mid 1980's until Ted Turner bought MGM and created TNT and TCM etc where it is now a staple during Christmas.  Of course it is on video, the film is enjoyable but moves so fast that there really isn't time for real character development and emotional impact - the screenplay is strangely a mix of trying to play it as as q British film and American film hence only tidbits of Dicken's great text makes it to the screen.

The 1970 musical version which received great reviews when released as the big Radio City attraction that year always suffers the comparison to the film adaptation of the broadway hit OLIVER! (1968).   But SCROOGE is really quite good and Albert Finney gives a great performance - the score has a couple of very good songs and the film captures the feeling of London circa 1800's!    Maybe had the film had a more stable career being broadcast on tv it would have had a bigger following all these years, I clearly remember when NBC first aired the film then it quickly vanished until possibly the mid to late 1980's when WOR aired it on a Saturday afternoon more recently TCM showed it once or twice in Dec 2008 - the four or five year old DVD from Paramount of SCROOGE features a great transfer and is a must for any film buff.


Now the granddaddy of all the versions the 1951 version.  When released in 1951 the film received not so good reviews, reviewers considered it too dark and ghastly and not enough merriement, the film opened at a much smaller theater in NYC then the producers had hoped and did not gain it's rightful place as the classic it is until it started airing on NYC television.   Amazingly up until the late 1960's or ealy 1970's if you read capsule reviews for this version in tv lisitings for the NY TIMES the reviewers gave this version second rate status to the 1938 version.   But somewhere in the 1974-78 timeframe film critics started to realize that this version had great acting, in fact the best portrayal of Ebenezeer Scrooge ever put on film via Alastair Sim, some of the British film industries best character actors including Mervyn Johns and Michael Horndern etc and the film captured the era the story takes place.    WOR's airing of the film became an event, but a big hullabaloo occurred when the then tv rights holders Gold Key Ent kept it off the tv a couple of years when they demanded higher fees for the broadcast contract and WOR refused to pay up.  The film did come back to tv after either they paid the higher fee or possibly Gold Key saw how they were being really beat up in the press about them being SCROOGE like regarding what had now been labelled a classic Christmas tradition in the film's annual airings.

Gold Key had the film colorized in the late 1980's and had bookend filmed segments added and some for commercial breaks (although these are not on video releases) with actor Patrick MacNee who played "young Marley" in the film comment on the film.    The film's video rights now belong to VCI Entertainment and over the last 10 or 15 years they have continued to improve on the print quality it has been issued in versions that contain both the b & w vand colorized versions, the color version also include the Patrck MacNee intro and closing remarks, it has been released in a 50th Anniversary version (just b & w) and in 2007 a "restored" special edition was released which included a great commentary by actor George Cole (who played young Scrooge in the film) this release includes the colorized version and 1935 version with Seymour Hicks, also included are two great trailers for the 1951 film which shows how they attempted to market the film to the British film audience and the moviegoers on the other side of the pond here in America.   Sadly different releases of the film on video here stateside did omit the famous scene where Scrooge does jump out of his chair and screams when Marley appears which another poster here mentions, also the scene at the end of the film when Scrooge enters his nephews house and his nephews wife is seated - some versions only show her in two shots before she gets up to confront Scrooge and then embraces him but there were really three shots.   VCI issued the film on blu-ray dvd Christmas 2010 and corrected issues involving missing snippets - and the film's SD DVD is also the best and most complete version now available here in the U.S.  I have had numerous chats via e-mail with one of the owners of VCI and have become quite friendly with the staff too and I can say they all love the film and realize its honored place in film history as the best version of Dicken's classic!  
 

p.s. look for the man in the mirror in the film! 
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:03/08/2010 04:01)


Max,

The reason why Lionel Barrymore couldn't do the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol for MGM was because just before the film was set to go into production he had the accident that broke his hip. It was only later when the arthritis set in that Mr. Barrymore was confined to a wheelchair. I talked about this on a previous post I filed on the message board in 2008. Here's an excerpt from that post:

The 1938 version of A Christmas Carol would have been so much better if MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer and director Edwin L. Marin could have used Lionel Barrymore (one of my all-time favorite actors) for the role of Scrooge. But unfortunately, just before the picture was set to go into production, Mr. Barrymore had the accident that broke his hip. This not only prevented him from doing the film, but eventually left him bound to a wheelchair for the rest of his acting career. Nevertheless, even as a cripple, he was 10 times the actor of anyone who is around today.

Lionel Barrymore was actually legendary for playing the role of Scrooge on the radio from 1934-1951. Then, in 1952, MGM released an album version of the story on a 10" LP, where he reprised his role as Scrooge. I have it on CD, but I think it's out of print now. It was actually Mr. Barrymore who suggested to Louis B. Mayer that he use Reginald Owen for the role of Scrooge. Now don't get me wrong, I like Reginald Owen, but I did not like the way he portrayed the part of Scrooge in this movie. However, the real flaw in this 1938 version is the adapted screenplay by Hugo Butler.

By the way Max, for all those who might not know what you're alluding to at the end of your post by "the man in the mirror," towards the end of the movie in the scene where Scrooge is looking at himself in the mirror, you can see one of the film's crew members in the background. This happens on both occasions when Scrooge looks into the mirror. It's amazing that Clive Donner (the film's editor) or Margaret Ryan (who was responsible for continuity) did not catch this faux pas. No matter, as it doesn't in any way whatsoever diminish the movie's status as being the greatest version of A Christmas Carol ever filmed.


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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:03/09/2010 08:19)

Thanks for adding the info about Mr Barrymore's hip injury, that is something I never knew!  As a classic film buff I love film history.   Alastair Sim was one of the British film industry's greatest actors - check out GREEN FOR DANGER which is available on dvd - he is wonderful in that film as always.

Also thanks for filling in your readers here about the man in the mirrior, my thinking on it was that being the film did not have a huge budget might have resulted in the sets being struck (taken down) before they realized there was that man in the mirror so tyhey could not reshoot it.  You are right in saying it does in no way take away from this being a honored classic and one of the most famous British films ever made. 

SCROOGE (1951) just seems to hit the right marks and it feels like Christmas everytime you watch the film even in July!  

By the way to all the film lovers that visit this great site like to see classic films in a classic theater check out
www.bigscreenclassics.com  the Lafayette Theater in Suffern NY has a program in Spring and Fall on Saturday mornings at 11am that includes The Mighty Wurlitzer being played before the film by Jeff Barker then a classic film!   All for $7!!!!!   The first program this season is going to be a showing DR NO!!!   On April 3 they are showing a very rare screening of the 1956 classic THE TEN COMMANDMENTS - I have never had the chance to see it on the big screen!    Check out the website, they have shown BABES IN TOYLAND, SCROOGE (1951) and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, and MIRACLE ON 34th STREET over the past few Christmas shows - so check it at the holidays it is great to see those gems around Dec on the big screen

        
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:03/09/2010 21:08)


Yes, Green For Danger is a terrific film. In addition to the great Alastair Sim, this film also boasts the always wonderful Trevor Howard and Leo Genn. And as with 1951's Scrooge, Muir Mathieson conducted the music for this film as well.

As for the man in the mirror oversight, your theory is very plausible -- if they even spotted it in post-production. However, this slip-up actually should have been caught during the filming process when they viewed the daily rushes.

By the way, I could tell that you were a fellow classic movie buff by your reference to Babes In Toyland. I, too, only refer to this film by its rightful 1934 theatrical release title, and not its later reissue title of March Of The Wooden Soldiers.


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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:03/09/2010 23:20)

Chip thanks for picking up on my love of BABES IN TOYLAND and ditto I could see how much you love the classic films from you posts - besides being the authority on The Yule Log you could just as easily being a authority on film history!     

I actually was a pen pal of Hal Roach in the late 1970's and 1980's - got some great Christmas cards and notes from him - Leonard Maltin actually forwaded my mail to Mr Roach and it was a joy to communicate with Mr R.  Amazingly he did not like BABES IN TOYLAD as it was the cause of major friction between him and Stan Laurel and was the catalyst for Laurel and Hardy later leaving the Roach Studios.   Today though it is the best known feature film produced by the studio with TOPPER, ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. and OF MICE AND MEN the other notable films that still are known as Hal Roach Productions.


I love the behind the scens stuff on movies - I had access to the legal files for MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET that are stored in UCLA granted to me by FOX and to read the evolution of that film is very interesting.  The film was originally going to star Dana Andrews along side Maureen O'Hara but just before filming was to start John Payne replaced Andrews!


I recently found the production designers sketches for THE BISHOPS WIFE and set costs which I am going to try to get copies of - Goldwyn had originally cast David Niven as Dudley but switched the roles giving Cary Grant the part.  Goldwyn also scrapped footage after seeing that the film was flat and started over with Grant playing Dudley!   There is a great story about the scene in the film where Grant and Young are looking out the window - the scene is shot in profile, when Goldwyn saw the footage he went nuts and confronted Loretta Young - Goldwyn was told that Young wanted to be filmed from one side - to which Goldwyn said "If we are only filming half your face I will pay you half your salary."

I fondly remember the years WPIX aired the film on Christmas Eve around 5:30 or so and then aired THE YULE LOG!


Best

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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:03/10/2010 01:57)


Max,

Regarding The Bishop's Wife, there are several stories out there regarding the original casting of the picture, but the one that is correct (and film historian Robert Osborne has corroborated) is that David Niven was originally cast as the angel, Dana Andrews as the bishop and Teresa Wright as the bishop's wife. Then, after producer Samuel Goldwyn replaced original director William A. Seiter with Henry Koster, Teresa Wright had to leave the film due to her pregnancy. As a result, Goldwyn lent Dana Andrews to RKO in exchange for Loretta Young (as a replacement for Teresa Wright). Then, to replace Dana Andrews, Cary Grant was signed on to play the role of the bishop. However, after Cary read the script, he said that he wanted to play the role of the angel instead -- and given the star power that he had, he was given the part.

Some stories actually claim that it was Henry Koster that wanted Cary Grant to play the angel, and that Cary wanted to play the bishop and had to be persuaded to switch to the role of the angel. This is not true. Cary Grant was one of the rare freelance actors during Hollywood's golden age. He chose his films very carefully and what he wanted, he got. If in fact he really wanted to play the role of the bishop, you can be damn sure he would have.

As for Miracle On 34th Street, the most interesting piece of casting trivia is that Cecil Kellaway was originally asked to play the role of Kris Kringle; however, he declined and the role went to his cousin, Edmund Gwenn.

 
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:03/10/2010 23:29)

Chip 

Great stuff, on THE BISHOP'S WIFE though the biggest bit of history was that Goldwyn wanted Grant to paly the role of the Bishop and was willing to pay the highest he would wind paying for Grant - as you stated Grant was a freelancer, so was Loretta Young by the way, but Grant turned down the part as he was already committed to another film, Goldwyn really went after Grant, but still no luck Grant was tied to another film.  What happened?  Grant other film committment fell through and his agent contacted Goldwyn and the deal was made.

Interestingly Dana Andrews contract was shared by Goldwyn and Fox hence Andrews playing mostly in Goldwyn or Fox films for most of the 1940's - Maureen O'Hara by the way had the same deal but between RKO and Fox both studios shared her contract.    Having just had the annual snorefest that is the Academy Awards it is amazing to think that Maureen O'Hara never received an Oscar - she should have by now been given an Honorary Life Achievment Award on the strength of MIRACLE or eve THE QUIET MAN - and for her stunning debut in 1939's classic THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME.   But sadly the Academy has ignored her body of work, I have written the academy the last 5 years as a fan and they really are ignoring Hollywood royalty.

Back to THE BISHOPS WIFE - after watching the film Goldwyn called in Billy WIlder to look at the film as he felt something was missing - Wilder suggested the film just need some frosting and agreed to right a few scenes to pick up the film in the middle for a fee of $25k - after the scenes were shot the film previewed very well - WIlder was waiting for payment and finally approached Goldwyn who said something to the effect to Wilder "I was thinking you really don't want to accept the money from me" in a way only Goldwyn could have send it in his famed Goldwyn-isms and Wilder basically agreed as Goldwyn had championed him when first starting in Hollywood.   THE BISHOP'S WIFE reviewed very well when first released - the NY TIMES loved the film!
       
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:04/01/2011 05:03)

Ah, my all-time favorite story.  Here's something many people probably don't know.  It's been a few years, but I remember reading the unabridged Dickens book and, if I recall correctly, I was surprised that Scrooge was visited by the spirits over consecutive nights.  So, that line we've all grown accustomed to hearing, "The spirits have done it all in one night," is really just another adaptation.

As far as the films go, I never cared for the 1970 musical version.  Not because it's a musical, but I found Albert Finney's screechy voice over the top and extremely annoying.  His performance looks too "forced," if you know what I mean.  The only thing that movie has going for it, I think, is that rousing Oscar-nominated song "Thank You Very Much."

I certainly agree with everyone here who think the Alastair Sim version is the best.  My number two would be a tie between George C. Scott (1984) and Patrick Stewart's 1999 TNT version.  At least the latter had a realistic looking Bob Cratchit, pale and sickly... quite unlike the portly Gene Lockhart in the 1938 version.  By the way, I think Patrick Stewart once did a one-man stage show where he portrayed all the characters.

A little trivia on the 1951 Alastair Sim version... Remember the housekeeper Mrs. Dilber?  Whenever I watch old movies and TV shows, I like to look up to see whatever happened to the actors.  Well, the actress who played Mrs. Dilber was Kathleen Harrison.  She died in 1995 - are you ready for this? - at the age of 103!

I've noticed various people here posting about when they start playing their Christmas music collections throughout the year, etc.  I started my own tradition several years ago... my official Christmas season starts with playing the 1939 Lionel Barrymore radio version in the car to and from work, usually in early November.  Then I switch over to the music... but not until I hear A Christmas Carol first.
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:04/01/2011 20:15)


That's correct Jim; in Charles Dickens' original story, the three Christmas Spirits (past, present and future) visit Ebenezer Scrooge over three consecutive nights. Dismayed over this, an exasperated Scrooge even says to Jacob Marley's ghost, "Couldn't I take them all at once, and have it over, Jacob?" 

As for the great British character actress Kathleen Harrison; yes, she did indeed make it to the grand old age of 103. In her long and illustrious career, Ms. Harrison acted mainly in British films (most notably David Lean's 1948 production of Oliver Twist, and, of course, Brian Desmond Hurst's 1951 production of Scrooge), but she did occasionally do an American film in Hollywood (most notably Richard Thorpe's 1937 MGM film Night Must Fall, which she made with another great British character actress, Dame May Whitty). In the latter part of her career in the 1960s and '70s, she was a fixture on British television, acting in a number of memorable roles.

Kathleen Harrison was always a delight to watch on screen and she always delivered the goods -- and always with that wonderfully thick cockney accent. She was one of the best.





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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:04/04/2011 20:47)

Hmm?  I don't know which edition of A Christmas Carol you guys have been reading, but maybe you had had a little too much eggnog at the time?      

This year I read my old Dover unabridged during December, a few pages a night, planning to finish it on Christmas Eve.  In that edition, all of the Spirits of Christmas visit Scrooge on a single night,  i.e.  Christmas Eve. 

On the reverse of the of the title  page is printed:  "This Dover edition, first published in 1991, reprints the text of the original edition (Chapman and Hall, London, 1843."

Here's a snippet from page 64, describing that charmingly amusing scene when Scrooge, after waking the morning after the visit by the Spirits, sticks his head out the window and hears the bells ringing:

      "What's today?"  cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.

    "EH?" returned the boy, with all his might of wonder.

    "What's today, my fine fellow?" said Scrooge.

    "Today!" replied the boy.  "Why, CHRISTMAS DAY."

    "It's Christmas Day!" said Scrooge to himself.  "I haven't missed it.  The Spirits have done it all in one night.  They can do anything they like.  Of course they can.  Of course they can."

So, the film version is faithful to the book in that regard.

But, I think that the film version may have added a plot element that wasn't in the book.  I didn't watch the movie this year, so my memory may be playing tricks on me.  But I think that in the film version the reason Scrooge hates his nephew is because Scrooge's sister died giving birth to him.  Isn't that right?
 
But on reading the print version this past December, I don't recall finding any reference to that.  As far as I can recall, Dickens didn't explain Scrooge's dislike of his nephew at all.

So this December I think I'll have to make it a point to look at both the book and the film again to see if I can sort this out.


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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:04/04/2011 22:54)


Will,

My copy of the book was published by Washington Square Press (copyright 1939 by Simon & Schuster, Inc.). And I have that exact same passage, word-for-word, that you quoted in your post which includes the line with Scrooge saying, "The Spirits have done it all in one night."

Nevertheless, however, earlier in the book is that passage which I alluded to in my previous post regarding the three Spirits visiting Scrooge over three consecutive nights.

I really find it hard to believe that your book is somehow different; so please go to Chapter one in your copy of the book. I'm sure you will find it to be the same.

Here, verbatim, is how the exact passage goes:

Marley: "Expect the first tomorrow, when the bell tolls One."

Scrooge: "Couldn't I take them all at once, and have it over, Jacob?"

Marley: "Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. The third, upon the next night when the last stroke of Twelve has ceased to vibrate."

By the way, let me just point out that it is not a contradiction or an inconsistency in Charles Dickens' story that Marley tells Scrooge on Christmas Eve that the three Spirits will visit him over three nights, and then Scrooge's statement at the end of the story that "The Spirits have done it all in one night." Not at all, as therein lies the magic of the story: that it took three nights, but that he still hadn’t missed Christmas.







*[Edited to add last paragraph]



(Message edited by Christmas Music Guru On 04/05/2011 00:20)
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:04/05/2011 11:34)


I couldn't agree more about the "magic" of what happened that night.

But I don't think I can stretch my imagination to the point where I can imagine that Scrooge somehow spent three nights (and two days!) in that bed.  If I recall correctly, (and I'd be the first to admit my memory is not very reliable these days), the impression I got from the text was that Scrooge spent a single  fitful night during which he was woken three times by the spirits and then woke a fourth time the following morning a changed man. 

It would be a stretch for me to try to imagine that he had spent 72 hours tossing and turning in that bed.  You'll have to count me among the skeptics on that score. 

But perhaps that was what Dickens had in mind.  I don't know. 

What, then, of Marley's prediction?  I'm afraid that my take on it is that Marley simply got it wrong when he told Scrooge that he would be visited by the spirits on three consecutive nights.  After all, don't you suppose that ghosts can make mistakes just as we mortals can?   The question for me is: do we believe what Marley said would happen, or do we believe Dickens' account of what subsequently did happen?

Your solution is that both are true.  And that solution demonstrates an enviable power of imagination which I'm afraid I've lost over the years.

So I guess my imagination is just not quite as robust as yours, Chip (or Jim's).  

But whether or not we can agree on how many nights we believe that Scrooge spent in his bed, I'm sure we can agree that  Alistair Sim's portrayal is the quintessential Scrooge, and has never been equaled. 

And I know one thing for sure:  next December when I re-read A Christmas Carol, I'll be paying especially close attention to the details of Dickens' account of Scrooge's night (or nights?) in bed.  I'll report back then on what I find.

======================================================================
P.S.  Added (per Chip's rule against double posting on the same day) after reading Chip's conjecture about a  time warp:

This afternoon as I was dozing off for my afternoon nap, I was re-reading some passages in my copy of A Christmas Carol, trying to puzzle out the conundrum of the apparent contradiction between what Marley had said and what Scrooge realizes when he wakes Christmas morning. 

Like Chip, I too was taken by that passage in which the clock struck twelve, even though Scrooge had gone to bed at two a.m. 

And as I turned it over in my mind, Dickens' description of what Scrooge was thinking might well have been written about me as I dozed off into my nap:

"Scrooge went to bed again, and thought, and thought, and thought it over and over and over, and could make nothing of it.  The more he thought, the more perplexed he was; and the more he endeavoured not to think, the more he thought ... Every time he resolved within himself, after mature inquiry that it was all a dream, his mind flew back again like a strong spring released, to its first position, and presented the same problem to be worked all through.  'Was it a dream or not?'"

That's when it came to me, as it did to Chip, that A Christmas Carol is a time travel story, which, when you think about it, is exactly what it is.  After all, if I can believe that the spirits can take Scrooge time traveling to witness events from his past and from his future, why couldn't I also believe that they could also take him back and forth in time while  he is sleeping in his bed, eh?

Isn't it just a little strange that Chip and I should both hit upon the time travel idea on the same afternoon?  Perhaps I was visited by one of those spirits as I napped today, eh?

 



(Message edited by CluelessInSeattle On 04/05/2011 21:08)
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:04/05/2011 15:45)


I really don't think Charles Dickens was trying to imply that Scrooge spent a three full days in bed, but in the end it's anyone's guess as to what he really meant. Especially when you consider that in the book the third Spirit seems to appear to Scrooge right after the second Spirit vanishes.

In the end, though, it really serves no useful purpose in trying to parse Dickens words or to overanalyze the literal meaning of his text. Otherwise the whole beauty and poignancy of his overall message is regrettably lost. The important thing is the life lesson he was trying to convey.

Nevertheless, I went back to the book and I think the answer can be found at the beginning of Chapter two. It clearly states via Scrooge's words that there was a serious time warp at work here. When Scrooge awakes, he is astonished to find that the clock strikes twelve, even though when he went to bed it was past two. He then lies awake until the stroke of one, when the first Spirit appears to him. So it's quite clear that in the matter of time and space, there were serious celestial forces at work here.

As far as Alastair Sim's portrayal in the 1951 British film Scrooge; yes, it was indeed the quintessential performance. By the way, in case you haven't yet read it, I'll re-post below an excerpt from my previous post on this thread from November 22, 2009:



All movie versions of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol are adaptations of the book, which was a short story and had a very basic plotline as compared to the more elaborate movie screenplays. There are also some very distinct differences between the book and these theatrical film adaptations. For example, in the book, Scrooge's beloved sister, Fan, was a younger sister -- not older, as she was portrayed in feature-length film screenplays.

Also in the book, at the end of the story, Scrooge visits his nephew's house; he does not go to Bob Cratchit's house as portrayed in the 1938 MGM film that starred Reginald Owen. Hugo Butler, who wrote the screenplay for this 1938 adaptation, added that twist on the story himself. Another major deviation from the book in this 1938 screenplay (which, parenthetically, I found to be palpably weak) was the firing of Bob Cratchit on Christmas Eve. This was also the brainchild of Hugo Butler's artistic license.

While all movie screenplay adaptations are based loosely on the Dickens short story, the absolute best by far was the screenplay written by the great Noel Langley for the 1951 film Scrooge. This classic and legendary film is the definitive and quintessential version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It was brilliantly acted, directed and photographed and is universally accepted as being the greatest screen version of this timeless literary classic. Alastair Sim gave the ultimate performance of his life and the paradigmatic performance of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. And it is this performance and this movie by which all others are judged.

 

It is a debatable point as to which movie could be considered the second greatest version of the story; but what is not debatable is that whatever film that would end up being, it would unequivocally be a far distant runner-up.

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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:04/06/2011 10:58)

Thanks for that fascinating overview of some of the major film adaptations of A Christmas Carol, Chip!

The range and depth of your knowledge of all-things-Christmas never ceases to amaze me.

You really are an unrecognized national treasure.
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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:04/06/2011 14:27)


My pleasure Will; I love sharing what knowledge I have about my life's passion: CHRISTMAS!





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RE:A Christmas Carol (Scrooge)
(Date Posted:12/15/2013 18:42)

Here's something pretty nifty: this Thursday (12/19/13), TCM will devotees entire prime-time schedule to various film adaptations of A Christmas Carol.
8:00 pm ET - Scrooge (1970)
10:00 pm ET - A Christmas Carol (1951)
11:30 pm ET - Scrooge (1935)
1:00 am ET - A Christmas Carol (1938)
2:15 am ET - Carol for Another Christmas (1964)

The bad news? None of these will get a re-air on the night of Christmas Eve, although the 1938 version will be shown earlier that afternoon.

(Message edited by Motown Mike On 12/15/2013 18:45)
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