Presented without commercial interruptions, this "United Nations Special" was sponsored by the Xerox Corporation, the first of a series of Xerox specials promoting the UN. Director Joseph ...
See full summary »
Presented without commercial interruptions, this "United Nations Special" was sponsored by the Xerox Corporation, the first of a series of Xerox specials promoting the UN. Director Joseph Mankiewicz's first work for television, the 90-minute ABC drama was publicized as having an all-star cast (which meant that names of some supporting cast members were not officially released). In Rod Serling's update of Charles Dickens, industrial tycoon Daniel Grudge has never recovered from the loss of his 22-year-old son Marley, killed in action during Christmas Eve of 1944. The embittered Grudge has only scorn for any American involvement in international affairs. But then the Ghost of Christmas Past takes him back through time to a World War I troopship. Grudge also is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Future gives him a tour across a desolate landscape where he sees the ruins of a once-great civilization. Written by
Bhob Stewart <email@example.com>
Originally intended only to be shown on a one-time basis,"A Carol for Another Christmas" remained unseen for 48 years, until broadcast in December 2012 on Turner Classic Movies. It has since had subsequent showings on TCM. See more »
The Andrews Sisters recorded "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" for Decca Records, not RCA Victor. See more »
[the Ghost of Christmas Present gorges himself at a banquet table, while barbed wired keeps out starving refugees]
How can you sit there and eat like that, when these people are starving?
Ghost of Christmas Present:
Oh? Do they bother you?
[he snaps his fingers, the lights go out and the refugees disappear]
Ghost of Christmas Present:
See more »
Thrilled to see the all-star "movie star" cast appearing in this piece, I watched this on TCM as part of their A Christmas Carol -a- thon. I didn't go into the movie expecting too much because I know it was made for TV and would be a very government film akin to Frank Capra's "Why We Fight" series. I sadly realized 4 minutes into the picture that this would be no better than the government message film "I Want You (1951)".
I will not go into the how's and why's this made for TV "holiday" drama was made as it can be read in the synopsis and other reviews. I will not address the extreme pro-UN message it attempts to pound into the viewers heads. I will instead focus on the movie briefly from a technical viewpoint.
Before I go into the flaws, I will point out that the movie has a couple sequences that are disturbing (in a good way), absurd and in the deepest darkness of a black comedy...namely the Sellers sequence. Sellers as Imperial Me pits narcissism against tolerant generosity in a Wells-ian fashion reminiscent of "The Trial" or the perverse nature of the Salem Witch Trials. The art-house theater sequences of the Ghost of Christmas Present show an attempt was made to make the movie thoughtfully. Unfortunately the demands of the script ruined it.
Script: Too much talking. How can a script have too much talking? Normally dialog isn't an issue but it is when the actors don't know what to do with it. Statistics, factoids, history lessons, moral lessons, more statistics, more factoids, more lessons with more emphasis...repeat for 83 minutes.
Acting: Sterling Hayden doesn't. He wore the same blah face as Dana Andrews throughout "I Want You" periodically tossing in a forced expression that looked more like constipation than any emotion I can pinpoint. I was looking forward to seeing Ben Gazzara, Eva Marie Saint and Peter Sellers (in his first return to screen post-heart attack role). I will always stop a moment to keep an eye out for a young James Shigeta and catch a glimpse of a handsome, hopefully sober Robert Shaw. All of these actors proved time and again in many roles that they are capable and believable in most of them. Yet in A Carol for Another Christmas, no one seems to do anything except recite lines in overtly Victorian style. Pat Hingle seemingly ignores Hayden and is the most convincing speaker in the movie but his government laden dribble slowly swallows even him. By the time he gets to the statistics of the hungry he looks crazed and Hayden honestly seems to not know the cameras are rolling because his eyes, presence, emoting of emotion, depth and dimension are all vacant. Sellers did do a great job, but he was an orator, not interacting with anyone except the audience. He did his best in his short time on screen. It became obvious scene after scene that the script was badly written and the actors were getting bogged down in it and with Hayden to react to, they were without hope. What's sad was that the director didn't do anything to amend the situation but rather continued to capture the tired disgrace of a movie.
Lighting: Hard to believe someone would get this so wrong, but the interiors of the house are done with such hard lighting the stair railing casts shadows upstairs from *below* that make the upstairs walls look like a painted Arabian set. The Eva Marie Saint sequence is almost blown out, vastly over lit or possibly overexposed. With her super blonde hair, the DP should have dialed things down, but in what appears to be an attempt to compensate for the hats and scene look like the outdoors, the actors appear to be inside a nuclear reaction. The overall lighting schematic is one of excess or deficiency. The final sequence where Hayden goes to have breakfast with his black maid and butler, the faces of the latter two can barely be seen, and no distinction of expression is visible because they are not lit correctly. The interview with the Ghost of Christmas Present uses artistic lighting and reveals effectively, but it is lost in the bowels of this movie.
Direction: Nowhere. No attempt seen to take the film past the superficial level. Since this isn't the first film w/ its history to turn out this way, it's becoming evident that believability was less important than rote facts being stated on screen.
By the end of the movie, I wanted to take Peter Sellers' "Giant Economy Size" tin can gavel and knock some sense into it. If you enjoy forced government message films, (hey, some people do...i enjoyed some of the Why We Fight series) you should check it out. If you expect the actor immersion in the roles, you will be disappointed, though Sellers does manage a wicked glimmer in his eye. Perhaps it wasn't for the role but for the audience because he knew just how bad this movie would be.
6 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?