Every year, even to this day, television shows all create a "Christmas" episode. They try to balance the ironies of the characters lives with the spirit of that holiday. The 1965 series, "The Rogues", was no different. It turned out "Mr. White's Christmas".
In the episode, the Fleming-St.Clair family has earmarked as their next pigeon the shipping tycoon Horatio T. White (John McGiver). He is an avaricious and stingy old goat, who works his employees hard and pays them small salaries (you can see who White resembles). Their scheme is to convince White that he needs some therapy (offered by Charles Boyer
Marcel St. Clair in the series - pretending to be a psychotherapist).
He is assisted here by Cousin Timothy (Robert Coote), Aunt Margaret (Gladys Cooper) and Cousin Mark Fleming (Larry Hagman, filling in for Gig Young).
The Rogues try to find why White is such a bastard. They do find an interesting point about him. He is reticent about the death of his partner years earlier, in a ship disaster connected to their company. It was when the firm was only a decade old, but despite the disaster the firm continued and grew. Still White does not like mentioning the deceased.
While researching Marcel and Mark notice that the deceased partner resembles Tim. So they have an idea. On Christmas Eve there is a lightning storm and rain (unsettling to White because it was on such a night as this that his partner died). About midnight, while alone in his home, White hears his name called at the window. He opens the curtains and faints dead away. There is his partner sopping wet, obviously drowned in the sea. Of course it's Tim.
When White comes to he contacts, much as he hates to, that psychotherapist. Marcel shows up and they discuss White's past. Marcel points out that the apparition of the partner must be due to guilt feelings for surviving the man. White agrees but gradually he reveals it is more than that. White cut costs on the ship by not having sufficient lifeboat space. That is why his partner died. That idiot partner decided to go on the ship at the last moment before White knew about it.
Marcel actually had not suspected this, and he is at something of a loss. But what is worse is that the incident is twisted in White's psyche. While he feels guilty, he also feels triumphant, as he was able to stonewall any attempts of the insurance company and the government to pin blame him for the disaster. Marcel realizes this is hopeless. He tells White his straight out disgust about the millionaire's attitude. He also says to White that unless he confronts himself about his character flaws he'll never be a really happy man.
Marcel leaves, and White, not really angry but annoyed, goes out for a walk (the storm has ended). He has told Marcel that he had to scrounge for every cent he ever made, and that he never took charity from anyone. But then he pointed out nobody ever gave him an offer of help either. So when he is out walking mulling over his life and flaws he also recognizes that mankind (in his case) has barely been kind.
White is on a bridge when a man comes along who wishes him a Merry Christmas. He snorts a "Bah Humbug" reply about what makes it so merry for anyone, confronting the man with whether he is really that merry in his life. The man is stunned at the question, and admits he really has little to be happy about, but he puts up a resistance to White's misogyny by insisting that life should be looked at as better than just that. So White looks at him and asks, "Okay, will you give me some money so I can enjoy the holiday?" The man looks at him and says he can't - he just said he isn't very rich! White smugly looks at him and say, "Yeah, I know. See - there is no real Christmas spirit!" The man starts walking away, when he stops, conflicting thoughts racing through his brain, and he returns to White, and offers him ten pounds. White looks at the note in his hand, dumbstruck that a poor man had the heart to give him, a total stranger, the cash.
The rest of the story (except for a bit of irony at the end) follows Dickens. White takes the man home with him, and has his servants give him a fine breakfast. He also hires the man to be an employee (making sure he gets a better salary). In fact he gives a better salary to all his employees. He then calls Marcel back to tell him to come to his office, where he is making his announcements.
Marcel shows up, and sees Horatio White beaming - a really changed man. He hears White telling his employees that he is making amends, improving their salaries and business conditions. Then he turns to Marcel, who's scam was to get a large check from White for his bogus psychotherapy clinic. He is prepared to do that and more. He has contacted another popular local charity and is going to present them with a similarly large check.
We watch as Marcel marvels at what is going on, and the real Christmas spirit that it is pushing. Then the scene changes back to the St. Clair residence in London. Marcel comes in looking rather sheepish, and the others ask what happened to the 10,000 pound check that he was supposed to get. Apparently the spirit of Christmas got out of hand - Marcel got so carried away with the sudden generosity of Horatio T. White, he contributed his 10,000 pound check to the other charity as well!
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