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A Christmas Carol
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Reviews & Ratings for
A Christmas Carol (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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75 out of 82 people found the following review useful:

Hard to imagine a better version.

10/10
Author: TOMASBBloodhound from Omaha, NE USA
17 December 2006

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.

The Hound.

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60 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

My favourite version of a classic tale

10/10
Author: Sisiutil from Vancouver, Canada
25 December 2001

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.

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66 out of 75 people found the following review useful:

The Best of all the Christmas Carol movies

10/10
Author: johnrworldwide from United States
23 December 2006

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.

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64 out of 72 people found the following review useful:

The Definitive "Christmas Carol"

10/10
Author: jhclues from Salem, Oregon
19 December 2000

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.

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36 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

One of the best television movies ever

8/10
Author: Agent10 from Tucson, AZ
25 April 2002

"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 trend.

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.

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35 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

The best rendition of the classic fable.

9/10
Author: gcdyer from Salem, OR
19 November 2000

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.

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31 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

A Christmas Classic

10/10
Author: JRMcNelis from United States
15 December 2004

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.

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24 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

This is one of the best versions out there!

10/10
Author: elizabeth-schrader from United States
24 August 2006

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!

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

My favorite Christmas Carol

10/10
Author: fourdots from United States
13 December 2006

You could stage a version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" with sock puppets and I'll probably watch it. Ever since I was a child, this has been one of my favorite stories. Maybe it's the idea that there is good in everyone, and that therefore no one is beyond redemption, that appeals to me, but for whatever reason I never miss an opportunity to watch one of the many screen adaptations of this timeless classic when they're on TV as they inevitably are this time of year.

What makes this version really stand out is the somber gravitas that the cast bring to their respective roles. Lines we've heard dozens of times in the past take on a whole new intensity, and each character becomes more real and believable in the hands of this wonderful ensemble.

George C. Scott was nominated for an Emmy in 1985 for this role. It is to his everlasting credit that rather than sleepwalking through this oft-portrayed role of Scrooge, he instead gave it a fresh interpretation that was, in my opinion, one of his finest performances ever. He wisely did not attempt a British accent, instead delivering his lines in that famous gravelly voice. His Scrooge is not merely a cranky old man (as he is so often portrayed), but a man who harbors a profound anger against the world. As he is visited in turn by each of the Three Spirits, we understand how this anger took root, grew, and ultimately strangled his soul. As he is forced to review his life, we see him alternately softening, and then relapsing again into unrepentant obstinacy. And in the great dramatic scene when he, kneeling and weeping at his own grave, begs for mercy as he attempts to convince the third spirit of his repentance and desire to alter his life, we see a man who has been utterly broken and brought to his knees literally and figuratively. Scott has made Scrooge utterly believable and painfully human.

Impressive as Scott's performance is, the ensemble of supporting actors contributes significantly the this version's dark beauty. Fred Holywell, Scrooge's nephew, is an excellent example of this. Often portrayed as an affable buffoon, here he is played by Roger Rees with an emotional intensity missing from earlier portrayals. When he implores Scrooge, "I ask nothing of you. I want nothing from you. Why can't we be friends?", we see in his face not only his frustration, but his pain at Scrooge's self-imposed separation from his only living relative. It is a moving performance, and one of the movie's most dramatic scenes.

Even more magnificent is the performance given by the wonderful English actor Frank Finlay as Scrooge's late partner, Jacob Marley. In most versions of this tale, the scene with Marley tends to be a bit of a low point in the film, simply because it's difficult to portray a dead man convincingly, and the results are usually just plain silly (ooooh, look, it's a scary ghost.......not!) In this version, it is perhaps the most riveting scene in the whole movie. Marley's entrance, as the locks on Scrooge's door fly open of their own accord and the sound of chains rattling echo throughout the house, is wonderfully creepy. But Finlay's Marley is no ethereal spirit. He is a tortured soul, inspiring both horror and pity. Marley may be a ghost, but his rage and regret over a life wasted on the pursuit of wealth, and his despair at his realization that his sins are now beyond redress, are still very human. As portrayed by Finlay, we have no problem believing that even the flinty Scrooge would be shaken by this nightmarish apparition. Finlay really steals the scene here, something not easy to do when you're opposite George C. Scott.

And it just goes on and on, one remarkable performance after another, making it seem like you're experiencing this story for the first time. Edward Woodward (remember him from the Equalizer?) is by turns both jovial and menacing as the Ghost of Christmas Present. When he delivers the famous line, "it may well be that in the sight of Heaven you are more worthless and less fit to live than MILLIONS like this poor man's child" he is no longer a jolly Santa Claus surrogate, but an avenging angel who gives Scrooge a much needed verbal spanking.

Susannah York is a wonderfully tart tongued Mrs. Cratchit, and David Warner brings marvelous depth to the long suffering Bob Cratchit, a man who goes through life bearing the triple crosses of poverty, a sick child, and an insufferable boss. His face alternately shows his cheerful courage, and also, at times, his weariness, in the face of intolerable circumstances. Later, in the scene in which Scrooge is shown by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come the Cratchit family after the death of Tiny Tim, Warner's performance, while hardly uttering a word, will move you to tears.

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20 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

terrific

Author: dtucker86 from Germany
3 July 2002

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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