Stingy businessman Ebenezer Scrooge is known as the meanest miser in Victorian London. He overworks and underpays his humble clerk, Bob Cratchit, whose little son, Tiny Tim, is crippled and may soon die. He also has nothing to do with his nephew, Fred, because his birth cost the life of his beloved sister. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge has a haunting nightmare from being visited by the ghost of his business partner, Jacob Marley. He is visited by three ghosts and is given one last chance to change his ways and save himself from the grim fate that befell Marley. Written by
The blatant plug first: If you haven't seen this film, you have deprived yourself of one of the great performances of all time. Do not miss the opportunity, order it, buy it, or just plain rent it at once.
When I was a boy my father introduced me to this version of Scrooge. I can remember how we had to all sit very quietly whilst he recorded the soundtrack from our TV using a mike onto his tape recorder. From there on in, every year at Christmas the tape would come out and we would listen to the soundtrack complete with the introduction music to the adverts. Eventually the tape became a cassette and then we had the video.
Now I am the owner of this magical film on DVD and there has not been a year pass me by that I haven't sat and watched the film at least once.
The joy of watching this version has never left me, and as other commentators have remarked, Alastair Sim as Scrooge, seems to provide everything that you could want in the part. The transition from miser to benefactor is handled well, with Sim fighting the spirits all the way: "I'm too old to change". The dizzy happiness of the final scenes in stark contrast to the character in the opening of the film.
Everytime I see this film I find myself captivated by the way Sim manages to find an inner character to Scrooge, one that has not previously revealed itself. The young Scrooge played by George Cole, may not be the nasty money grabbing character whilst interacting with his sister, working for Fezziwig, or courting Alice, but he doesn't have that intoxicated happiness, there is still something sour about him.
Perhaps that is what truly makes this film. If the novel is about redemption and a rediscovery of humanity, then Alastair Sim finds it in abundance within his portrayal.
I cannot reach the end credits without undergoing some form of renewal myself. The characterisation carries you with it. I have seen and heard this film at least 50 times and I still smile to myself whilst waiting for the words : "Cratchit! you're late." the attempt to keep up the old Scrooge breaking down very quickly.
Perhaps some more people in the world could do with a revelation such as this Scrooge undergoes. Would it be so bad if we all felt at times that: "I don't deserve to be so happy".
The other part I have always enjoyed is that of Kathleen Harrison as Mrs Dilber. Throughout she plays the put upon house keeper with great style. The comments she makes at Old Joe's are telling in their rightness and her initial reaction to the transformed Scrooge is bewilderment and terror in equal measure.
I am relieved to read that I am not alone in this world in being able to quote almost every line, and some of the these have become catch phrases in my family: "I always know" seems to be a favourite of my father :-)and a meal cannot pass without "ha'penny extra" being put forward if more bread is requested.
So to finish - let the enthusiasm of the other contributors and myself encourage you to at least try this film. And now to get this in the post: "I'll send it to Bob Cratchit. Label, label, label, label, must have a label."
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