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A Christmas Carol (1938)

Not Rated | | Drama, Family, Fantasy | 16 December 1938 (USA)
2:45 | Trailer
On Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the spirit of his former partner, Jacob Marley. The deceased partner was as mean and miserly as Scrooge is now and he warns him to change his ways or face the consequences in the afterlife.


Edwin L. Marin


Charles Dickens (novel), Hugo Butler (screen play)





Complete credited cast:
Reginald Owen ... Ebenezer Scrooge
Gene Lockhart ... Bob Cratchit
Kathleen Lockhart ... Mrs. Cratchit
Terry Kilburn ... Tiny Tim
Barry MacKay ... Fred (as Barry Mackay)
Lynne Carver ... Bess
Leo G. Carroll ... Marley's Ghost
Lionel Braham ... Spirit of Christmas Present
Ann Rutherford ... Spirit of Christmas Past
D'Arcy Corrigan ... Spirit of Christmas Future
Ronald Sinclair ... Young Scrooge


On Christmas Eve, an old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the spirit of his former partner, Jacob Marley. The deceased partner was in his lifetime as mean and miserly as Scrooge is now and he warns him to change his ways or face the consequences in the afterlife. Scrooge dismisses the apparition but the first of the three ghosts, the Ghost of Christmas Past, visits as promised. Scrooge sees those events in his past life, both happy and sad, that forged his character. The second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, shows him how many currently celebrate Christmas. The Ghost of Christmas yet to Come shows him how he will be remembered once he is gone. To his delight, the spirits complete their visits in one night giving him the opportunity to mend his ways. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Greater than "David Copperfield" !


Drama | Family | Fantasy


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


This film had its first television showings in Los Angeles, Seattle and Chicago Monday 24 December 1956 on KTTV (Channel 11), on KING (Channel 5) and on WBBM (Channel 2), followed by Altoona PA Tuesday 25 December 1956 on WFBG (Channel 10); it was first telecast in Minneapolis 19 December 1957 on KMGM (Channel 9) and in New York City 24 December 1957 on WCBS (Channel 2); in Philadelphia and San Francisco it first aired 24 December 1958 on WFIL (Channel 6) and KGO (Channel 7). See more »


When The Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to the church on Christmas Day everyone is signing, "O Come, All Ye Faithful." The song was originally written in Latin as, "Adeste Fideles" in 1751. It was not until 1841 that it was translated into English by English Roman Catholic priest, Rev. Frederick Oakeley, and did not become widespread until almost 20 years later. This movie is set in the 1838 through 1843 time frame. See more »


Ebenezer Scrooge: Please let me stay!
Spirit of Christmas Present: Nonsense! You don't want to stay!
Ebenezer Scrooge: Yes, I do!
Spirit of Christmas Present: No! You don't like Christmas!
Ebenezer Scrooge: Yes! Yes I do! I like Christmas! I LOVE Christmas!
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Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »


Version of A Christmas Carol (2000) See more »


Silent Night, Holy Night
(1818) (uncredited)
Music by Franz Xaver Gruber
Lyrics by Joseph Mohr
Sung by an offscreen chorus during the end credits
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User Reviews

A Triumph For Reginald Owen
25 December 2001 | by Ron OliverSee all my reviews

The wretched life of a disagreeable old man is forever altered one haunted Christmas Eve...

Charles Dickens' wonderful Yuletide story, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, is given the full MGM deluxe treatment in this superior Holiday film. The production values & acting are both excellent, with just enough sentiment to appeal to the tenderhearted, and with liberal doses of horror & hilarity stirred into the mix, until, like a fine Christmas punch, the result appeals to all.

The film's rather short running time keeps the action moving along briskly, with one famous & beloved episode after another coming alive before the viewer's eyes.

Reginald Owen, in his best film role, is perfect as the grasping, clutching, tightfisted, covetous old sinner, Ebenezer Scrooge. Replacing the ailing - and highly respected - Lionel Barrymore, Owen makes the part his own, revealing the old miser's misery & heartache, making the part thoroughly human. When he rejoices in his spiritual regeneration at the climax, so do we.

The roles of Bob Cratchit, Scrooge's amiable clerk & Fred, Scrooge's friendly nephew, are both fleshed out more fully than in other versions. The acting skills of Gene Lockhart & Barry MacKay turn them into something very memorable.

Special mention should also be made of Leo G. Carroll as Marley's morose Ghost; Lionel Braham as an impressively jolly Ghost of Christmas Present; and Kathleen Lockhart & Terry Kilburn as Mrs. Cratchit & Tiny Tim. All add fine brushstrokes to the overall picture.

Movie mavens will recognize Billy Bevan as an officer of the Watch; Forrester Harvey as an ebullient Fezziwig; Halliwell Hobbes as a jolly Vicar; and young June Lockhart, in her film debut, as Belinda Cratchit - all uncredited.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

16 December 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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