A mean and miserly proprietor of a counting house in 1840's London is taken by ghosts to Christmas scenes of his youth, contemporary ones involving his family and employee, and lastly, a ...
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A mean and miserly proprietor of a counting house in 1840's London is taken by ghosts to Christmas scenes of his youth, contemporary ones involving his family and employee, and lastly, a possible future holiday where he might be dead and forgotten, if he doesn't change his ways. Written by
To me, this Christmas Carol definitely could have been better considering that it had Fredric March and Basil Rathbone starring and Bernard Hermann as composer and that the story is so timeless. It does have a few big debits but also a lot of things that came off well. The adaptation is too short, from personal opinion this should of if it were allowed been 25 minutes longer, and there are parts especially with Christmas Yet to Come- a scene that came off ridiculously sadly as well- that felt rushed, making Scrooge's change of heart/transformation rushed and less believable too. Some of the story is structurally bare bones, the basic elements are there but things that give Scrooge reason to change and that what made him like he was in the first place were missed out which further led to his transformation from miser rushed and not so believable.
The songs are hit and miss here and generally take up too much time of the running time. Some are pleasant, the best being the incredibly touching one sung by Tiny Tim, the most beautiful one melodically and the only song where the lyrics actually resonated with me, and the opening sequence song is the other truly memorable one. But others don't stick in your head very long and some have some corny lyrics, the worst one being Ghost of Christmas Present's which went on forever and didn't serve that much of a point to the story as well as suffering the worst of the lyric writing. The two original carols, outstandingly sung by the Roger Wagner Chorale, are great but don't quite fit within the Victorian/Dickensian setting.
However, from a visual standpoint this Christmas Carol looks surprisingly good. It's very well shot throughout, with a big shout out going to the extended shot at the end, and the period detail is evocative and handsomely constructed. The street scenes with the Carollers and Fezziwig's drawing room are agreed the best of the interiors while the snow looks Christmassy and real. While the songs don't quite come over well generally Bernard Hermann's score absolutely does, the chorus writing in the Jacob Marley scene is wonderfully spooky. If there was anything actually that can be singled out as the best thing about this it would definitely be the score. Even with a lot missed out of the story there is no problem at all with understanding the script, which is witty and heart-warming, and while the story is truncated which compromises the pacing and length it still packs a powerful emotional punch(the ending is a tear-jerker) and makes its point effectively.
In the acting stakes, nobody is outstanding in the support acting but nobody's disastrous. It was an interesting move to have Belle/Ghost of Christmas Past and Fred/Ghost of Christmas Present doubled up, that has never been done before, and it didn't come off too badly, Sally Fraser's beguiling and Ray Middleton's appealingly hearty(he is better though as Fred, he got the joviality of Ghost of Christmas Present just right but wasn't quite benevolent enough). Wasn't a big fan of the over-sized and rather stereotypical nose but Fredric March really gives his all as Scrooge and is very good, he is great doing the gruff miserable miser but the character's transformation is convincingly acted. His best moment is his facial expressions during the extended shot with the choral singing of Tim's song, a wide mix of emotions beautifully conveyed by March, it was another bold move made here and was most telling. One mustn't forget Basil Rathbone either, who chills the bones as Jacob Marley though in an understated way, a way that not many other actors can do as effectively as Rathbone could.
All in all, a pretty decent adaptation of a Christmas classic, thanks to Hermann's score, a couple of good innovations, the visuals and the performances of March and Rathbone but due to it being too short and rushed with a bungled Christmas Yet to Come scene and hit and miss songs it does fall short as well. 6.5/10 Bethany Cox
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