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  • Scrooge
    • Scrooge
    • Runtime:86 min
    • Release Date:2014-08-29 11:14:53
    • Director: Brian Desmond Hurst
    • Genres: Drama, Fantasy
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Scrooge
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There have been versions before and after it but few filmizations on "A
Christmas Carol" equal this one; Alistair Sim delivers a triumph of a
performance as Ebenezer Scrooge, a ruthless businessman known for his
cunning, unscrupulous methods at the London Stock Exchange and hard to
negotiate with if you are indebted to him. His nephew, who married a
woman with no dowry, Fred, wishes him a merry Christmas much to the
disgust of humbugging Scrooge who has contempt for anyone who so utters
such sentiments from their lips. Scrooge was against Fred marrying,
love or not, and has nothing to do with him despite being invited to a
Christmas party. Cratchet works tirelessly for Scrooge yet isn't quite
paid in kind, and must endure the harsh cold due to his employer's
persistence not to waste "costly" coal for further heating. In this '51
version of "A Christmas Carol", we spend a lot longer with Scrooge in
Christmas Past, his betrayal of Fezziwig, the return to his dying
sister's bedside, buying up(along with Marley as partner)his company's
stock, and his late visit to Marley's deathbed(not even taking off
early despite the knowledge that Marley could be dead at any time). Of
course this version basically covers the same Christmas Present
events(visiting Cratchet's family Christmas dinner and Fred's party).
Pretty much the same Christmas Yet to Come events, except more than one
have taken possessions of Scrooge to Old Joe for whatever he'd pay,
Cratchet's sorrow at the loss of Tiny Tim and Ebenezer's trip to his
own grave. The reaper ghost is an actual full bodied man this time
around(white, face never seen)who points the way for a shivering,
frightened Scrooge to follow. We get everything from Sim's performance
as Scrooge, his loathing for those who keep Christmas merry, the
genuine fear of seeing Marley, his guilt when revisiting events he
could've changed or still can avoid, and the ultimate elation and
excitement at being given a second chance to right wrongs and forge
relationships with those who have long been treated wrongly by him.
Mervyn Johns(DEAD OF NIGHT)makes a wonderful Cratchet, meek and careful
not to rile Scrooge, quiet, tolerant, and hardworking, a good father
and husband. Michael Hordern's Marley is pitiable and woebegone, a
picture of what awaits Scrooge if he doesn't correct his future and
contribute to his fellow man. As always Cratchet's reaction to the "new
Scrooge" is positively golden. I have a DVD version with the late
Patrick Macnee(The Avengers)where he introduces this movie which I
definitely recommend to fans who might not know it exists.

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I have not let a Christmas pass without watching this film in 47 years.
It is, simply, the definitive cinematic adaptation of Dicken's best
loved tale. Yes, some things were added, in the Ghost of Christmas Past
scenes, to flesh out Scrooge's motivation, but the additions are very
much consistent with what Dickens told us. It's also true that the
wonderful line about fools being buried with a stick of holly through
their hearts is left out. While I love the line, and listen for it in
every other adaptation (it requires a certain verve to deliver
correctly), I think the excision is both deliberate, and advised. The
line does not fit the character of Scrooge as portrayed in this
adaptation.

The actors, all of them, do a commendable job. Kathleen Harrison's Mrs
Dilber and Michael Hordern's Marley pretty much define the roles but it
is Alastair Sim who dominates, as he should. It is an amazing
performance, rich with nuance. Of all the other Scrooges, only George
C. Scott comes close to being Sim's equal.

I love the black & white; the whole film reminds me of illustrated
Victorian books, which I take it, was the intent of the Director (Brian
Hurst) and the Art Director (Ralph Brinton). I wish the younger
generation found it easier to appreciate B&W film because, although I
often share this gem with my classes, they rarely get it.

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Made way back in 1951, it's a testament to the quality of this movie,
and to the performance from Alastair Sim in the central role, that this
remains one of the finest (perhaps, indeed, THE finest) interpretations
of A Christmas Carol on film.

Everyone knows the tale, surely. Ebenezer Scrooge (Sim) is a man who
has made his life one without love but with plenty of money and means
to continue doing so. Even at Christmas he has no thought for his poor
clerk, Bob Cratchit (Mervyn Johns) and doesn't even think twice before
refusing his kind nephew's (Brian Worth) invite to Christmas dinner.
But things may change after he is visited by his deceased ex-business
partner and then subsequently by three spirits who are determined to
show Scrooge the spirit of Christmas, something that is all about more
than just one day out of the year.

With every scene beautifully staged and pitch-perfect performances from
everyone involved, this remains just as watchable today as it surely
was upon it's initial release. The effects are nicely done, the script
(Noel Langley adapting the work of Dickens) is pretty faithful to the
original work while also making some changes that never detract from
the overall effect and Brian Desmond Hurst can take pride in the
seasonal favourite that he has directed. And with a cast including a
young George Cole, Patrick Macnee, Michael Hordern and many other fine
thespians, there's no weak link in the performing chain.

But this is all Sim's show and what a wonderful show it is. His
performance as Ebenezer Scrooge remains, in my view, the very best that
has ever been. It's not overly showy and melodramatic but it has those
occasional moments. It's not a comedic or pantomime performance but, as
in the original tale, it has those moments too. What Sim does is
expertly inhabit the skin of Scrooge and runs through the full array of
emotions and changes that the character goes through during the events
of that fateful Christmas Eve.

A perfect Christmas confection that puts many other versions to shame
and should be viewed yearly by fans of the classic tale.

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