A Christmas Carol (1938) Poster

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  • Rich London businessman Ebenezer Scrooge (Reginald Owen), known for his miserliness, particularly hates Christmas, considering it 'humbug' and those who celebrate it as 'fools'. On Christmas eve, Scrooge is visited by his deceased business partner Jacob Marley (Leo G. Carroll), who warns Scrooge that, if he does not change his greedy ways, he will end up like Marley...wearing the chains he has accumulated during his life. Thereafter, Scrooge is visited by three more spirits: the Ghost of Christmas Past (Ann Rutherford), the Ghost of Christmas Present (Lionel Braham), and the shrouded Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (D'Arcy Corrigan). Each of them show Scrooge a segment of his life and introduce him to the spirit of Christmas as displayed by his nephew Fred (Barry MacKay) and the family of his clerk Bob Cratchit (Gene Lockhart) and Cratchit's crippled son, Tiny Tim (Terry Kilburn).

  • A Christmas Carol (full title: A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas) is an 1843 novella by English writer Charles Dickens [1812-1870]. The novella was adapted for the screen by Canadian screenwriter Hugo Butler.

  • Governor is a British slang used in much the same way as Sir. It is typically used when a younger person is addressing an older man, as when the boys address Fred (Barry MacKay) as Governor at the start of the movie, or between two gentlemen, as when Ebenezar Scrooge (Reginald Owen) is addressed as Governor by the three men who come to see whether or not Jacob Marley (Leo G. Carroll)'s ghost is real. Oftentimes, governor is simply shortened to guv.

  • Ebenezer Scrooge is Fred's uncle. Fred is the son of Ebenezer's younger sister Fan (Ira Stevens), who preceded him in death.

  • You betcha. June Lockhart, who would go on to play Timmy Martin's mom in the Lassie (1954) TV series [1958-1964] and Maureen Robinson in the Lost in Space (1965) TV series [1965-1968], appears as Belinda Cratchit in her first role as an actress. This shouldn't come as a total surprise, since Bob Cratchit and his Missus were played by June's real parents, Gene Lockhart and Kathleen Lockhart.

  • In 1840s London, the homes of the poor were equipped with open fireplaces for heat and cooking but not with ovens. Bakers were forbidden to open on Sundays (the day of rest), but they did open their shops to the poor in order to bake their dinners for a small fee (e.g., six pence). Hence, the Cratchits, like many poor Londoners, took their Christmas goose or turkey to be baked in the baker's ovens.

  • It wasn't just any pudding; it was plum pudding, a traditional favorite in English Christmas dinners since medieval times. More like a fruitcake spiked with brandy, wine, or cognac, plum pudding should be made weeks, months, or even a year in advance in order to let it cure.

  • Yes. Fred is already married in the original novel, and his wife hardly appears in it. In the 1938 MGM film, she is his fiancée, and she has a substantial supporting role in the film. (She has also been named Bess, and she even meets Tiny Tim.) Making her Fred's fiancée rather than his wife of several years gave the MGM scriptwriters plenty of opportunities to sneak in several kissing scenes between Fred and Bess (other than mistletoe scenes) that simply don't exist in the book.

  • Scrooge wakes up the next morning ecstatic to find that he is still alive and that it is Christmas Day. He tosses a bag of money to a young boy and asks him to purchase the prize turkey still hanging in the butcher's window. He dresses and hurries over to Fred's house where he his barely recognized due to the broad smile on his face. Scrooge whispers into Fred's ear that he's making him his business partner, which allows Fred and Bess enough income to marry. Then, Scrooge, Fred, and Bess ride over to the Cratchits' house, where Scrooge delivers them the turkey and various Christmas presents. Cratchit is certain that Scrooge has gone mad, but Fred assures him that it is not so. Scrooge announces that he's giving Cratchit a raise and vows to hire his eldest son Peter (John O'Day) when he gets a little older. In the final scene, Scrooge offers a toast, and Tiny Tim adds, "God bless us, every one!"

  • Dickens never names what illness Tiny Tim has, other than to say that he wears a brace on his leg, walks with a crutch, is weak, and won't live to see another Christmas. Considering that the story is fiction, Dickens might have meant only to portray Tiny Tim as sickly and in need of medical attention, which Cratchit could not afford on his salary. However, viewers have suggested several possibilities, including polio, tuberculosis, scurvy, or rickets. In 1992, American pediatric neurologist Donald Lewis offered the diagnosis of distal renal tubular acidosis, a kidney disorder that makes the blood too acidic and can result in weakness, bone fractures, and problems between nerves and muscles. Although the disease as it is known today was not understood in the 1840s, doctors did recognize the symptoms and did have a cure. Patients would be given alkaline solutions to drink, solutions that would counteract the excessive acid in the blood and recovery would have been swift.

  • Charles Dickens' novella about Ebenezer Scrooge is one of the stories most often made into a film. It can be found in silent versions such as The Right to Be Happy (1916) (1916) as well as talkies. It can be found under various titles, most commonly A Christmas Carol and Scrooge, but also under variations such as Scrooge and Marley (2001) (2001), Ebenezer (1998) (1997), Ebbie (1995) (1995), The Stingiest Man in Town (1978) (1978), and An American Christmas Carol (1979) (1979). It's been animated, spoofed, and turned into a comedy in such films as A Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994) (1994), The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) (1992), Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988) (1988), Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983) (1983), "A Jetson Christmas Carol" (1985), Bugs Bunny's Christmas Carol (1979) (1979), and even Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol (1962) (1962). For a fairly comprehensive, although not necessarily definitive, list of various versions of the story, see here.


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