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So this made for TV film scores only a 7.6 on this site? Bah! Humbug!
Without question this 1984 version of Dickens' classic tale is the best
ever made. And yes, the Hound has seen the 1951 version which was also
good, but not good enough. The lack of color is perhaps the biggest
shortcoming of that version, although the acting was wonderful.
George C. Scott is simply incredible as Ebenezer Scrooge. We all know the story of this stingy businessman who is haunted by the ghost of his dead partner, then by three other spirits later on that evening. Scott is properly gruff as Scrooge. Too gruff in fact for some critics who claim he is unable to project the new-found glee that he awakens to on Christmas morning after the spirits teach him a valuable lesson. But hey, this is George C. Scott. He's never going to go dancing down the street in a fit of joy. He has too much dignity, and his Scrooge projects his emotion in a realistic manner.
The supporting performances are uniformly excellent, as are the costumes, music, and scenery. 19th Century London comes to life in Clive Donner's visionary style. The film even borders on frightening in several scenes involving the spirits. The important tale of morality shines through in every frame, though.
You won't often find this version aired on television anymore, and that is a disappointment. The 1984 version of A Christmas Carol should be a required part of every household's celebration of the holiday. When the decorations come out of the basement, this film should find its way into the DVD player at least once during the season.
10 of 10 stars.
This 1984 version of the Dickens' classic `A Christmas Carol,' directed by
Clive Donner, stars George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge. By this time
around, the challenge for the filmmaker was to take such familiar material
and make it seem fresh and new again; and, happily to say, with this film
Donner not only met the challenge but surpassed any expectations anyone
might have had for it. He tells the story with precision and an eye to
detail, and extracts performances from his actors that are nothing less than
superlative, especially Scott. One could argue that the definitive
portrayal of Scrooge-- one of the best known characters in literary fiction,
ever-- was created by Alastair Sim in the 1951 film; but I think with his
performance here, Scott has now achieved that distinction. There is such a
purity and honesty in his Scrooge that it becomes difficult to even consider
anyone else in the role once you've seen Scott do it; simply put, he IS
Scrooge. And what a tribute it is to such a gifted actor; to be able to
take such a well known figure and make it so uniquely his own is quite
miraculous. It is truly a joy to see an actor ply his trade so well, to be
able to make a character so real, from every word he utters down to the
finest expression of his face, and to make it all ring so true. It's a
study in perfection.
The other members of the cast are splendid as well, but then again they have to be in order to maintain the integrity of Scott's performance; and they do. Frank Finlay is the Ghost of Jacob Marley; a notable turn, though not as memorable, perhaps, as the one by Alec Guinness (as Marley) in the film, `Scrooge.' Angela Pleasence is a welcome visage as the Spirit of Christmas Past; Edward Woodward, grand and boisterous, and altogether convincing as the Spirit of Christmas Present; and Michael Carter, grim and menacing as the Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come.
David Warner hits just the right mark with his Bob Cratchit, bringing a sincerity to the role that measures up well to the standard of quality set by Scott's Scrooge, and Susannah York fares just as well as Mrs. Cratchit. The real gem to be found here, though, is the performance of young Anthony Walters as Tiny Tim; it's heartfelt without ever becoming maudlin, and simply one of the best interpretations-- and the most real-- ever presented on film.
The excellent supporting cast includes Roger Rees (Fred Holywell, and also the narrator of the film), Caroline Langrishe (Janet Holywell), Lucy Gutteridge (Belle), Michael Gough (Mr. Poole) and Joanne Whalley (Fan). A flawless presentation, this version of `A Christmas Carol' sets the standard against which all others must be gauged; no matter how many versions you may have seen, watching this one is like seeing it for the first time ever. And forever after, whenever you think of Scrooge, the image your mind will conjure up will be that of George C. Scott. A thoroughly entertaining and satisfying experience, this film demands a place in the annual schedule of the holiday festivities of every home. I rate this one 10/10.
Far richer in texture and character than even the classics from the
30's and 50's. George C. Scott was born to be Scrooge, just as he was
born to be Patton. Mr. Scott will be known as one of the greatest
actors of the 20th century. The character of Scrooge as played by Mr.
Scott seemed to jump off the screen. Scott as Scrooge brought an
richer, more robust, yet a more deeply moving Scrooge to the screen
than any of his predecessors in the role of the meanest man in 18th
century London. Mr. Scott seemed to bring Scrooge to a more personal,
understandable yet highly conflicted level; his role was acted with the
great authority Scott always bring to the screen: yet his usual
bellicose voice would sometimes be brought to a whisper, almost as a
soliloquy, as he would berate the Christmas holiday in one breath, yet
reveal his own human frailty in his next line. He could portray the
sour and crusty Scrooge, and a misunderstood, sympathetic Scrooge all
in the same scene.
Truly a remarkable performance by a giant of his generation.
I know many people have a special fondness for the Alistair Sim version of
Dickens' story, but for me, this 1984 version is the one to beat. My wife
and I own a copy of this film on VHS, and we watch it together every
Christmas Eve. I often remark that we could watch it on Halloween too,
because it's a very creepy ghost story.
Scott--typecast as Scrooge--is shudderingly mean and nasty, making his transformation all the more miraculous and moving. I think it's up there with his performance in Patton. The spirits are all effective, each one creepier than the last. Watching the dark, floating, skeletal form of the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come sends shivers down my spine every year. And what a supporting cast! David Warner, in particular, is in top form as Bob Cratchit, as is Susannah York as his wife.
I seem to recall that this version sticks closer to the original story than most others--but I may be mistaken, as it's been several years since I read it. Regardless, this is a terrific Christmas classic.
"Telefilms" tend to fall under the pitfalls of
a low budget and a hasty shooting schedule,
which is why this film always tends to buck the
George C. Scott embodies Ebenezer Scrooge perfectly, fully encompassing all of his cold tendencies, and still makes him a simpathetic character. The production value for this film was exceptional, never relying on boffo special effects or soundstage set-ups, yet relying on the depth and clarity of on-site shooting and strong backdrops. A movie that certainly stands alone.
The setting and actors make this television movie for me the best rendition of Dickens' classic tale. George C. Scott is very believable as is the rest of the cast. His Scrooge oozes with nastiness until the very end of the movie. Then his character changes to one who is truly repentant. The 19th Century English town chosen for the setting creates an ambiance that is fitting to Dickens and adds to the plausibility of this film. It is a movie I watch every Christmas along with the real Grinch and It's A Wonderful Life.
This is simply one of the finest renditions of Dicken's classic tale.
The script very accurately follows the story originally penned by
Dickens, and captures a perfect balance between a film atmosphere and a
play atmosphere. Viewers fond of either format will find enough of the
story rooted in their presentation style of choice.
George C. Scott brings a delightfully realistic approach to the character of Scrooge, and is very convincing in the character development instigated by the visits of the ghosts. I found that he was able to win me over to the point where I sympathized with the old miser, something rarely done in other versions. The superb job done by the supporting actors add greatly to this production, which is simply the most enjoyable of all the Christmas Carol versions I have seen.
and possibly closest to the Dickens story line. Although I find the young Ebenezer hard to watch (who's idea was that period hair, surely they could have done better than that!), Scott does an incredible job as Scrooge. His delivery of some of the lines from Dickens finally brought it to life for me. Edward Woodward is everything we expect and more of the Ghost of Christmas present. I find G.C. Scott's Scrooge much more of a believable miser than the more current version done by Patrick Stewart. The scene Christmas Morning when Scrooge realizes he hasn't 'missed it', is enough to convince one that Scott knows how to act versus overact. He's phenomenal here. Nearly the entire cast is incredible. The Tiny Tim in this version of The Christmas Carol is a little tough to look at, almost too sweet. Still the music and the scenery make this a must watch every holiday. Enjoy!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This story is told and retold and continues to be retold in every
possibly way imagine. The immortal Charles Dicken's story has been
recreated in every possible way imagine. I admit I have not seen the
classic Alistair Sim version and I'm sure someday I will but I would be
blown away if it touched even close to this amazing eighties version. I
believe that if Dickens himself had created his story for film this
would be it.
The story is well known, I won't go into much detail because everyone has seen it in one form or another. A rich, stingy, mean, old man is visited by the Ghost of his former partner and warned about his mean ways. In order to straighten him out he is visited by three spirits, each which show him a different perspective of his life and the people he is involved with, past, present and future. Finally in seeing all this before him he realizes the error of his ways in a big way and attempts retribution for all the wrong he has done.
George C. Scott is absolutely, undeniably perfect for this role. He takes hold of the Ebeneezer Scrooge role and makes it his own and creates an incredible character. He is not just a mean old man, but someone who has been effected by certain situations in his life that has made him bitter and angry at the world. There is compassion within him but he holds it below everything else and is very self involved. Scott delivers the role of perfection when it comes to Scrooge.
Not only does the leading role make this film but everything else fits into place. This is a grand epic of Victorian England, Dickens England is recreated before our very eyes, the sights and the sounds and you can almost feel the breeze in your face and the smells of the market. Director Clive Donner brilliantly recreates this scene and leaves nothing to the imagination. I could watch this film on mute and be dazzled by the scenery. It's not spectacular scenery per se but it's real. The film takes us from the high class traders market to the very dismal pits of poverty and everything in between.
The rest of the cast fits into their roles and brings their literary counterparts to life. Bob Cratchitt, played by David Warner and his entire family including and especially the young Tiny Tim played by Anthony Walters were wonderful. The Ghosts each had their own distinct personality and added to the dark mood of this story. A Christmas Carol is not a light story. Dickens wrote this story for a dark period in England's life and it's one of the few Christmas tales that is really dark, almost scary, and it has to be scary in order to scare a man who has been a miser for so many years into turning around. The dark feel to the story is captured in this film and is downright frightening and yet the end lifts your spirits and captures Christmas miracles. The score to this film is also something to be mentioned as it is epic and grand and beautiful to listen to whether it's the actual score or the Christmas music, everything fits together. Apparently Christmas movies are my favorite because I insist everyone see this Christmas Carol above all others. 10/10
I agree that versions of a Christmas Carol are a dime a dozen, but this one is the most beautiful to look at. You really get the feel of Victorian England in Dickens time. They really went out of their way to make it as lovely as possible. George C. Scott makes a fine Scrooge. Many people think Alastair Sim's version was the best, but Scott is good as well. The only thing I disagree with was the fact that Scrooge didn't react the way he should when the Ghost of Christmas Past was showing him how his fiance left him because of his stinginess and had a fine family with a good man. Scrooge should have been overcome with grief and remorse (he usually is in all the other versions). Scott's Scrooge just says "Spare me your pity!". He really doesn't show any remorse until the very end. The rest of the cast does an excellent job. I usually hate children, but I thought the lad who played Tiny Tim was especially cute. Roger Rees is wonderful as Scrooge's cheery nephew. Hes such a nice fellow you really feel angry at Scrooge for chasing him out of the office. What I like is the fact he makes an eloquent apology. I said I hated Christmas and that is a humbug Fred. Edward Woodward is wonderfully cheerful as Christmas Present. I like the way he gets in Scrooge's face at one point and tells him in the eyes of heaven Tiny TIm's life might be worth more then his. Frank Finlay is the scariest and most tormented Marley's Ghost I have ever seen. He is so scary you almost expect to see a large brown stain appear on the back of Scrooge's nightgown!
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