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 ...
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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When I saw this when I was in high school, I remember my hair curling. I remember there were threats of boycotts and protests against the politics of this work, which really express just basic humanitarianism, with some liberal fear of nuclear destruction.
Three memories of this production: James Shigeta, playing a doctor in post-nuclear Hiroshima, answers the Scrooge character's (Sterling Hayden) cliched comment about nuclear-damaged girls (singing, with cloth over their scarred faces). Scrooge says, `Well, at least their children will not face this horror." Shigeta answers: "Children?! These girls?!"
The second is Pat Hingle eating the massive chicken leg, with barbed wired keeping out silent, wraith-like, starving refugees. Scrooge: "How can you sit there and eat like that, when these people are starving?" Hingle: "Oh, do they bother you?" And he snaps his fingers and the lights go out, and the refugees disappear. "Feel better?" asks Hingle, taking another chomp out of the turkey leg.
The third is Peter Sellers as "The Imperial Me," a deranged leader of a deranged sect meeting in a post-nuclear bombed-out church. Sellers' turn is both hilarious and disturbing, working the followers (all with Mickey Mouse Club-like shirts that say "Me") into a frenzy.
The teleplay is crammed with earnest, liberal good intentions. But why weren't there a lot more of this kind of artistic effort on television? (I recall a second UN/Xerox special, with Theo Bikel playing a leader of refugees on a ship, but it wasn't nearly as good).
Political and marketing restrictions cost us dearly when more efforts like "Carol for Another Christmas" were not made.
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