Carol for Another Christmas (TV Movie 1964) Poster

(1964 TV Movie)

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A Christmas Carol that may not translate to the 21st Century
btimmer13 May 2001
The Museum of Television and Radio owns a copy of this film written by Rod Serling and only shown once on television. Part of its financing came from the United Nations and the theme of the film is more about international cooperation than simply being anti-war.

Sterling Hayden portrays a wealthy man who served in the Navy during World War II and is now a lonely bitter man upset over his son's death in a war he described as needless, presumably in Korea. Hayden is now an isolationist.

The three ghosts think their job is to make Hayden's character more of an internationalist and more willing to accept U.S. involvement in organizations like the United Nations. Coming right before the U.S. racheted up its involvement in Vietnam, it is easy to understand why this film didn't get shown again.

The visit from the Ghost of Christmas Future (Robert Shaw) is the most frightening part of the film. He shows Hayden a post nuclear apoclaypse world run by a weird character called the Imperial Me (Peter Sellers). Sellers is quite effective.

It's an interesting film, but you have to take it in its context. If you are a big Rod Serling fan, it is worth seeing. If you are not, you might find the themes in the film delivered in a rather heavy-handed manner.
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One of the Great TV Dramas
treagan-221 June 2003
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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Incomparably great TV drama
treagan-212 November 2002
This has to be one of the greatest one-time only dramas ever presented on TV. I remember it vividly from its original broadcast: a venal Pat Hingle devouring a huge turkey leg surrounded by starving refugees; the sweet voices coming from little girls scarred by the atomic blast at Hiroshima, their faces covered with gauze; the demented "Imperial Me" Peter Sellars addressing his crazed flock in a burned out cathedral after the nuclear holocaust of the future; Sterling Hayden, a modern Scrooge, his voice changing from booming commands to whimpering as he is led past the succession of proof of man's inhumanity to man.

I saw this again at the Museum of Broadcasting in NYC and I was not disappointed. This is the lost world of thoughtful, creative TV drama, and what a loss it is to us all.
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10/10
Skip the message, savour the performances
F Gwynplaine MacIntyre5 February 2003
Warning: Spoilers
'Carol for Another Christmas' features a teleplay by Rod Serling at his most dead-earnest. As often happened with this controversial writer, Serling's script ran afoul of network censors who insisted on major changes ... inevitably making the material much more innocuous. Astonishingly, 'Carol for Another Christmas' manages to be an entertaining drama anyway, well-directed (by old pro Joe Mankiewicz) with a first-rate cast.

The story is a blatant reworking of Dickens's 'A Christmas Carol', modernised and addressing the concerns of Americans in the 1960s: a fairly original idea when Serling did it. But in the years from 1964 to the present there have been dozens of rip-offs of Dickens's tale (such as the wretched movie 'Scrooged') ... so, from a 21st-century viewpoint, 'Carol for Another Christmas' suffers because it's now one of many, many, MANY reworkings of Dickens's source material. Fortunately, Serling manages sporadically to improve upon the original. For example, this story has no annoying little Tiny Tim character.

In Serling's original script, the main character in 'Carol for Another Christmas' was an embittered industrialist named Barnaby Grudge. This is clearly a Dickensian pun, but Serling also meant it as a pun on 'B. Grudge'... because Grudge begrudges charity to people less fortunate than himself. Television executives insisted that Serling must change this character's name; they were certain that 'Barnaby Grudge' would be perceived as a thinly-disguised attack on Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater (same initials). Serling changed the character's name to Daniel Grudge, and Sterling Hayden gives a standout performance in the lead role as Grudge, the surrogate Scrooge.

After some surly dialogue with his black servants Charles and Ruby, and an argument with his nephew (Ben Gazzara, giving the worst performance hereabouts), Grudge gets some unwanted advice from a surrogate Marley, and then the story proper begins ... with Grudge getting a look at the state of humanity in Christmases past, present and future. (Rod Serling's birthday was 25th December, and he had a traumatic experience on Christmas Day during his wartime hitch as a paratrooper ... I wonder if either of those facts helped inspire this story. I also wonder if the title of this script was a pun on the name of Rod Serling's wife: Carol.)

Grudge's escort to the past is a World War One doughboy, extremely well-played by Steve Lawrence ... yes, the singer who married Eydie Gorme. Steve Lawrence was a very talented actor who seldom got material worthy of his talents: he gives a fine performance here, with some of the best dialogue Rod Serling ever wrote. (I'm a Serling fan, but plausible dialogue was always thin on the ground in Rod Serling's universe.) Lawrence brings Grudge to Japan on Christmas Day 1945, where a Japanese doctor and a U.S. WAVE are trying to help Japanese children who were caught in an American bombing raid. (There does seem to be an unfortunate 'blame America' tone here.)

The Ghost of Christmas Present is well-played by the excellent Pat Hingle, an actor who never achieved the stardom he deserved. Grudge finds the stocky Hingle gorging himself on food at a banquet table, while nearby Third World children starve behind a fence. Hingle invites Grudge to join him: Grudge is willing to eat, but not with those starving children watching him. The fact that those children ARE starving does not particularly disturb him.

Next stop, the future: with the flash of an atomic bomb, Grudge finds himself in the darkness and rubble which are all that remains after World War Three. These are (intentionally) the most disturbing scenes in the drama. What sort of war was this, Grudge wonders? 'A dandy', replies Robert Shaw in a lacklustre performance as the Ghost of Christmas Future. Civilisation was destroyed in the nuclear war, but now one man is trying to inspire the survivors to rebuild the world ... namely, as a dictatorship with himself as the leader. Peter Sellers gives a fascinating performance (with an American accent, better than the one he used in 'Dr Strangelove') as a dictator named Imperial Me. Unfortunately, Sellers seems to be acting in a completely different movie from everyone else. (Which sums up much of his life and career.)

SPOILERS NOW. The character arc of 'Carol for Another Christmas' follows Dickens's novel very closely, so it's no surprise that Grudge/Scrooge ultimately returns to his mansion in the present, where he now sees the error of his ways and he repents. But I found the last scene very annoying and simplistic. As proof that Grudge has reformed, we see him humbling himself by eating breakfast in the kitchen with his black servants. Surely it would be more honest and more ennobling to show Grudge inviting his servants to join him for breakfast in his posh dining room. And the three of them could do the washing-up together. Like so many other liberals, Serling seems more interested in bringing down the mighty rather than uplifting the lowly.

'Carol for Another Christmas' occasionally sinks into knee-jerk liberalism or America-bashing, but this TV movie's good points very much outweigh and outnumber its bad points. I'll rate this story 10 points out of 10. God bless us, every one.
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8/10
This Cold-War era Christmas Carol is the scariest of all.
Sawdust-515 September 1999
It is my understanding that Rod Serling's Carol for Another Christmas was only shown once, and the print is now owned by one of the schools of filmmaking.

This is a tale of the Cold War. In 1964 the Cuban Missile Crisis was still fresh. My neighbor in west Texas dug out his back yard to install a bomb shelter. Duck and cover drills were practiced by school children so they would be prepared for a nuclear blast. Rod Serling (writer of the Twilight Zone series) wonders what the Christmas Carol would have been like if Scrooge lived in this world.

Even though I was quite young at the time this show played there are scenes that I can remember clearly. The Scrooge character has been shown the devastation of the world of the future. He suffers great fear and wants to escape. He tries to climb a stylized wire fence But there is nowhere to go. The only things around are sparse, sterile ruins of a destroyed civilization. I wish I remembered how he resolved his conflict.
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10/10
A great film
ozman9 August 2001
I actually saw this unique film on its one and only broadcast. I was in high school at the time and was very impressed. As a fan of The Twilight Zone, I never missed anything by Rod Serling. Not much detail sticks in my mind after 35 years, but I would enjoy an opportunity to see it again
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9/10
'Twilight Zone' coda, on Monday, 28 December 1964, on ABC
tforbes-216 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Turner Classic Movies blindsided me tonight when they decided to run this rarity, a special that ran on Monday, 28 December 1964 on ABC. Yes, this special runs like a final episode of "The Twilight Zone."

And that is not a bad thing!

This remake of "A Christmas Carol" is, by "Zone" standards, edgy. First, Joseph Mankewicz directs this, his only television project. The cast is first-rate, from Sterling Holloway to Peter Sellers and Steve Lawrence. Unlike the original CBS series, this was filmed in New York City.

This special makes me wonder whether or not "The Twilight Zone" might have lasted longer, had it aired on The Alphabet Network. In the 1960s, that network was far edgier than CBS, the original host for Rod Serling's series.

Many people may find Rod Serling's writing shrill. OK, my views are very similar to his, and my family knew him personally. But in this day and age, this special is like a badly needed slap in the face. If his writing is difficult, the actors overcome this.

And as for the ending: Remember, this is late 1964, when television was still a fairly timid medium, reliant on advertising. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 had just been passed, and the march on Selma, Alabama was in the future. For the script's stiff qualities, I give this 9/10, but for overall effort and intention, I give this 100,000,000/10.

PS: And given how, even in late 1964, animosity against the Japanese existed, seeing this special is refreshing.
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8/10
a worthwhile period piece..thanks Turner for showing for first time since 1964
alandry7317 December 2012
Since i was 8 the only time it aired I doubt i watched it surely had no idea what the purpose was. It is amazing to think that Peter Fonda was the son killed in WWII and his first name was "Marley".. YOu should look at Serling's Wikipedia entry to see his service in the Pacific in 1045..Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Phillipine Lib Medal and incredible stories. Sterling Hayden was Mr Grudge- and was a WWI (not II) veteran..in 1964 WWI vets were only in their mid 60's. That was past, along with a creepy Hiroshima sequence. Present was a hedonistic free world letting everyone starve..and the Future was after WWIII(with a madman ruler). Certainly would baffle anyone today but moderately effective. Go to Wikipedia and see that Hayden was in the OSS and paratrooped into Yugoslavia..where he befriended Tito which led to his blacklisting. Hayden and Serling certainly had life experiences. A somewhat clumsy/contrived movie but worth seeing to understand how those who grew up in the 30' and 40's lived and what they experienced
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7/10
An artifact but you should sit through it
pensman11 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
A dated film with a sledge hammer of a message yet it still has a resonant touch here and there. The images of the barbed wire camps bring to mind the camps of current refuges fleeing Syria; and Peter Sellers as the Imperial Me strikes a chord with the current culture of self-esteem enjoying its moment, not to mention the easy comparison to our current President- elect (2016). Granted the acting is heavy handed but with both Sterling Hayden and Sellers in this production , I have to believe that Rod Serling considered that in case people found the message of Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb too subtle (as if), he was going all out here to make it clear. Might be time for an update, but I believe the current "Conservative" political climate is too charged to be able to pull it off.
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8/10
The Gospel of Me
bkoganbing6 January 2013
Carol For Christmas is about 20 years behind the time when it was presented on TV in 1964. It would have had far more appeal had television been available in 1944.

Industrial tycoon Sterling Hayden is bitter at the world because his son Marley died in World War II. He's the last of the isolationists and wants no foreign involvement anywhere period including humanitarian aid.

The error of his ways is told to him by those spirits of Christmas past, present and future. And if you know the Dickens story and how many in the English speaking world have never heard of it than you pretty much know what the story is.

If this had been done in 1944 when Hayden's son was killed, a lot of people invested their hopes and dreams in a new world organization to come, the planning of which was undertaken even while the guns were still blazing in battle. The story would have resonated well with World War II audiences.

As it is coming out in 1964 before the troop escalation in Vietnam the film came out under the wire. Five years later, ten years later, it would have met with derision from Vietnam era audiences. The message still has problems today with the issues surrounding globalization.

However one portion of it rings very true for what has been determined to be the 'Me' generation. How prescient were the writers in creating Peter Sellers's character of 'Me' the symbol of the ugly American who believes in selfishness and divisiveness. Just grab what you can, whenever you can and if some in the world don't have as much, too bad. Not to mention if they protest, kill them. This part of Carol For Christmas was as prophetic as Network in its way.

I caught this over the Christmas holiday, make sure if you haven't seen it, catch it next year if TCM runs it again.
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5/10
Probably culturally significant BUT...
AlsExGal27 December 2018
... like a typical Ayn Rand novel, it tries to solve a problem that does not exist. This is a redoing of the Dickens classic "A Christmas Carol", but this time it is a wealthy industrialist, Mr. Grudge (Sterling Hayden) who is supposed to be the stand-in Mr. Scrooge, in need of a lesson about loving mankind.

But it comes out in the first conversation with Grudge's nephew, Fred (Ben Gazzara), that Grudge is a patriot AND an isolationist...even in respect to WWII! People did feel that way about WWI after it was over, and there are even tons of anti-war and isolationist American films made up to 1940, but that was a very unusual even extremist position for any American to have about WWII once it began. Plus Grudge actually fought in that war, as we see in the "Christmas Past" episode. We also learn that "Marley", in this Christmas Carol tale, is Grudge's son who was killed in a war in a foreign land, and is largely the reason for Grudge's isolationism. What war? For Marley to have been killed in WWII, 20 years before, Grudge would have to be old enough to have a son at least 40 years old, and Sterling Hayden just does not look that old! In fact he was 48 himself when this was made.

The last part, about "Christmas Future", has Peter Sellers doing a bizarre part as some kind of evangelist of selfishness, and the performance itself is worth the price of admission, but in context it just does not make sense.

Even though this whole thing is a bit of a mess - including insinuating that we should just trust the Communists in eastern Europe and Russia at the time in spite of their past actions - it is a product of a huge fear of nuclear war in 1964 and that this war might start even accidentally. For that purpose this is worth watching to get a feel for what people feared and what they thought were the solutions, even if as a dramatic piece this comes across as overly talkie and very preachy.
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9/10
highly worthy of a 120 year update
pecora_32416 December 2012
This adaptation is not for the young. Rather, it is more of an adult, thought-provoking view of a hardened man facing a narrow, isolationist future. Sterling Hayden's portrayal of Grudge is solid and restrained. Grudge aches for his war-sacrificed son, but sees his own mourning as weakness.

The home of Grudge is tasteful, large, and heartless; a perfect place for a man whose hopes and dreams died with his son...a mausoleum for the living.

Steve Lawrence is flippant, and on-point is his role of Ghost Past. He is All Soldiers of all nations. He is aboard a ship filled with flag-draped coffins, filled with those who answered their governments' call. The WWI troopship is only one of many of an endless convoy, that bear those who have fallen. But the Hiroshima set is bright, broken, and stark. Grudge see his younger self drawn to a clear, young voice singing from the rubble that is now a hospital.

A doctor tells him that the girl he hears has been disfigured by the bomb. She had heard the plane and looked up. Grudge then sees a small injured boy, who, upon hearing a clap of thunder, needed a hug. The younger Grudge obliges; he still has a heart.

Pat Hingle is Ghost Present, an over-sated, uncaring man who feasts while millions of war- displaced people remain starving within barbed wire fencing. Yet they sing songs of hope, in their own languages...quite beautifully, too. Grudge is lectured by his own earlier words of keeping America's nose out of the world's little wars.

As Grudge attempts to escape from this Ghost, he is surrounded by barbed-wire at every turn. Seeing an exit, he climbs through a broken floor, and into what was Grudge's Town Hall, the place where all people could meet and air their problems. But the Hall is long abandoned and near collapse. And he meets Ghost Future.

Robert Shaw's Ghost is concise. Everybody had the Bomb, and everybody used it. This is all that remains.

Grudge then witnesses a meeting led by Peter Sellers, as ME, a selfish despot who has gathered dozens of survivors and plans an attack to kill those 'across the river'. "They" want to talk, and ME won't hear of it.

Enter Grudge's servant, Charles, and his wife. They have survived. Charles asks to speak. He speaks of humanity and conscience. But he is shouted down, shot and killed.

Grudge awakens in his den. It's Christmas Day. Charles, his servant, greets him, then goes off to prepare Grudge's breakfast. A knock at the door reveals his nephew, Fred. A 3 AM phone call is the reason. Grudge apologizes for his earlier statements, and has a change of heart. They shake hands, and Fred leaves. There is music in the background.

Charles turns off the radio, which is playing Christmas music sung by a children's choir. Grudge turns the radio on, intent upon listening. Grudge decides to have breakfast in kitchen with Charles and his wife, the cook. Grudge sits at the table, lost in his thoughts.

And the credits roll.

Rod Serling wrote this adaptation. And it was worth it!
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7/10
The film of America, yet to come
JohnSeal19 January 2013
If Ayn Rand had watched this film when it was first broadcast on American television, she no doubt would have had palpitations. Carol for Another Christmas not only revels in bleeding heart humanism, it also drives a stake through the heart of the Randian philosophy of objectivism. That must have been galling for acolytes of Rand in 1964, but here we are in 2013, and after forty or fifty years of relentless anti-humanist propaganda we now live in a world where the quaint liberalism of Rod Serling has been displaced by - you guessed it - the selfish anti-communitarianism of Ms. Rand. This development would have disgusted the vast majority of Americans in 1964, who would have answered Daniel Grudge's (Sterling Hayden) question to The Ghost of Christmas Future (Robert Shaw) - 'must it be like this?' - in the negative. The ghost, however, doesn't respond - and now, sadly, we know the answer.
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5/10
Propaganda Special with Some Interesting Parts
utgard1421 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I'm a big fan of The Twilight Zone. I have enjoyed Rod Serling's writing, whether it was Zone or Night Gallery or his film work. But he had his failings as a writer, too. Specifically when he felt passionately about a cause, he could write some dialogue that was pretty heavy-handed and prone to speechifying. Usually this was limited in the restraints of a half-hour television show. But in this film-length special he is not only afforded the opportunity to get on his soapbox quite a bit more, but encouraged to do so. And so he does, almost nonstop, and the film suffers for it.

The plot is a reworking of Dickens' A Christmas Carol for the 1960s. Sterling Hayden plays our Scrooge-like character, Daniel Grudge, a wealthy man who lost his son, Marley, in World War II. So now he's a bitter, jaded isolationist who scoffs at ideas of world peace or brotherhood of man. Like Scrooge, he will be visited by three spirits. But not before we get a long opening argument between Hayden and Ben Gazzara. This whole protracted piece was more of a political debate than actual conversation two people would have. It would also begin an interesting recurring theme throughout this story. That is that Serling, as the writer, had no answers for any of these problems beyond platitudes. Sometimes Gazzara would make a point and Hayden would have no real rebuttal. Sometimes Hayden would make a point and Gazzara would have nothing. While one could make an argument this is representative of real-life political discourse, I would argue it's also representative of the same outcome of that: apathy. We the viewers, like we the voters, grow apathetic towards repeated arguments that lead nowhere with no real solutions offered beyond the abstract. Later in the story Hayden's character just stops arguing his point and converts his beliefs with no legitimate reason given why he would do this, other than they needed to get him to the inevitable Scrooge-sees-the-light ending. Because he was dealing with real world issues that he has no solid solutions to, Serling has Hayden change suddenly and you're left with the feeling that it happened "just because." Speaking of Sterling Hayden, he is a wooden actor and is especially stiff here. Truthfully his performance in this special at times is just plain awful, with that vacant expression on his face that leaves us to figure out if he's deep in thought or on the verge of a poo.

The Ghost of Christmas Past is played by Steve Lawrence, who plays the role with a casual ease that's enjoyable to watch....at first. But after a short while he starts to grate on the nerves and comes across as a cocksure jerk. More patronizing soapboxing. A favorite reply of Serling's in this special is to have someone respond to something Hayden says to them with something akin to "Oh is that so." It happens frequently and is very annoying.

The Ghost of Christmas Present is played by Pat Hingle and he does fine in a rather forgettable segment about starving children. This is the weakest piece of sophistry in the film. There's a rule online that basically goes "the first person to bring Hitler into any argument automatically loses." Well, there should also be a rule that the first person to bring starving children into any argument also loses.

The Ghost of Christmas Future is played by Robert Shaw and this segment is the best. Shaw breathes life into the wordy script. Then comes Peter Sellers as the Imperial Me and it's a whole different film. The entire sequence outclasses everything that has happened in the previous hour. Why? Because this is what film is: stories told through a combination of words and especially images. The rest of the special was just a series of monologues and political stump speeches. That's not good filmmaking or good storytelling. Sellers and Shaw are excellent in this part. They really take Hayden to acting school and embarrass him. Had the entire special been like this, regardless of the message, I would have loved it.

After the Future segment, we're back to the present and Hayden's inevitable change of heart. Of course, because Hayden is a robotic actor lacking in emotion, we are left to guess if he is sincere in this change. Ben Gazzara shows back up to be a sore winner and heap more lecturing on Hayden, despite the philosophical change Hayden's undergone. Amusingly, Gazzara seems neither surprised nor impressed with it. Terrible writing that even the worst retelling of Carol has gotten right. If you don't feel Scrooge has really changed in the end, what was the point of the story? Then, there is the patronizing ending that will make your eyes roll. I won't spoil it for you if you want to be surprised. The best I'll say about it is that I'm sure Serling's heart was in the right place.

Overall, it's a curious experiment that is mostly unsuccessful. However, the star power involved and the phenomenal future segment with Shaw and Sellers warrant you should check it out. Serling fans, especially those who embrace even the clunkiest of his works, will enjoy it most.
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2/10
Awful.
MartinHafer21 December 2013
"A Carol for Another Christmas" was apparently shown with no commercials on TV and was sponsored by the United Nations--so it was seen as a very important event. However, when you see it today, it comes off as silly, heavy-handed and incredibly naive.

Rod Serling used Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" as a starting point for this film. Instead of Ebenezer Scrooge and stinginess, the plot is about Daniel Grudge (Sterling Hayden) and his hatred of US intervention in foreign problems. However, like in the Dickens story, various ghosts appear to show Grudge the error of his ways and in the end, Grudge is a huge proponent of the UN and US intervention abroad.

In 1964, this apparently sat well with audiences. Today, however, it brings up a multitude of issues apart from the bad writing. The idea of the US acting like an international police force has become a hated concept with many nations and isn't very popular here, either. And, the UN has consistently proved that the organization is inept and unwilling to deal with evil.

Now if you ignore the politics of the film, you are still left with a production that is about as subtle as a nudist at a Baptist picnic. Heavy-handed and silly--this is one that Serling biographers probably won't mention as it's a rare failure for this brilliant writer. Stupid and awful.
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2/10
liberal propaganda
lrldoit25 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This movie presents the problems of the world and posits the UN as a possible solution. Hayden's character is a rich man who hates war. He beliefs in NOT fighting the world's battles.

The other characters treat him in a contemptuous manner - as if most of the world starving is HIS fault. The blame him for enjoying life while others are starving.

The basic idea is that as long as governments talk, they will not fight. In reality, wars are fought for gain. The only thing we can do is stay out of world affairs as much as we can and make sure that our enemies do not dare attack us. If a rich man gave away all his money, nothing would be accomplished. It is not the fault of an isolationist if people are starving. It is the fault of dictatorships.

The heavy handed idiotic portrayal of the problems of the world must be seen to be believed.

The only subtlety is in the ending where our protagonist decides to give the UN a chance. Would that the rest of the film was written as well.
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I me mine
dbdumonteil7 November 2009
Made just after the financial disaster of "Cleopatra" -one of the most unfairly underrated movies of all time,at least in its four-hour version-by Mankiewicz.It's an updated Dickens' "a Xmas carol" with a "modern " uncle Scroodge ;one can notice that the "don't be selfish,open up,don't get caught up in the "me" machine was also treated by Frank Capra in his (certainly more palatable) "it's a wonderful life" .

This is a movie which concerns today's audience ,in spite of its dated details ;more than ever we must help our fellow men and not hide our heads in the sand even when we feel like letting everything down.When the second ghost talks about the hungry people in the world,he's speaking to all of us;it's not surprising that the only man who rebels against the Imperial Me is a black man (and his wife).There's a stellar cast featuring Sterling Hayden as the lead and Eva Marie-Saint,Robert Shaw,Ben Gazarra as the nephew ,Peter Sellers and more ...
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8/10
A Totally Different Take on Dickens
DKosty12322 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
While Rod Serling's "Patterns" in the 1950's on live television is even better than this twist on the Charles Dickens classic done for the UN might even be more topical now than when it first aired.(Patterns is still topical too, a sign of how great a writer Serling was).

Serling wrote a great dramatic script here yet again though for those who expect just a Dicken's remake, your in for a major surprise.

Sterling Hayden plays Mr. Grudge, a sort of modern Scrooge ever since he lost his son in World War 2 on 12/24/1944. He has been moping ever since blaming US Foreign Policy of getting involved overseas in everybody's issues for losing his son. Luckily, this is before Vietnam escalated so that does not come into this though it would weaken the main argument against Mr Grudge's logic.

It is obvious this movie is made on a television budget and in black and white the sets really look stark. The script and the cast are what brings this off. Late in this special, we get Peter Sellars getting together the survivors of Armagedden and preaching "ME" and that is the scary part of this. We have the me generation now, it is almost as if Serling was really predicting the future here.

The "WE" theme is here to counterbalance that theme. The UN wanted this theme obviously. The only thing missing here is the fact that today the "We" theme has been twisted by agenda driven special groups and corporations to be something beyond Serlings vision here which is the more simplistic theme that we all need to cooperate to avoid disaster.

Serlings themes here are brilliant and Eva Marie Saint, Britt Ekland, Sellers, and more help Sterling Haydens great performance in this television movie made just a year before some of these folks would be working with Kubrick in Dr Strangelove.

I am glad to have caught it this holiday season on TCM as I had never seen it before now.
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5/10
Lame attempt to equate Patriots with misers . . .
tadpole-596-91825621 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
. . . by piggy-backing a lot of One-World, Total Disarmament, Income Redistribution prattle on the framework of the beloved Charles Dickens story, A CHR!STMAS CAROL. Misers, epitomized by Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge, are obsessed by arithmetic--NOT creature comforts, conspicuous consumption, the Seven Deadly Sins, or any other vice. Due to childhood trauma, they hoard their gold, just as other people hoard shoes or cats. Scrooge would NOT burn a lump of coal or eat a decent meal on his own behalf. A CAROL FOR ANOTHER CHR!TMAS tries to equate Scrooge with its main character, Daniel Grudge. Dan lives by himself in a luxurious mansion, spends money like water on frills such as domestic help and chandeliers, and puts his energy into being a blow-hard ideologue. While Scrooge only had one thought in his head (Get and save every penny), Dan spouts off endlessly about various facets of international politics. Barb wire mazes, Japanese girls without faces, crazy cowboys, casket convoys, United Nations, poor relations, kids with guns, Armageddons--what does any of this have to do with Christmas?!
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4/10
Now I've Finally Seen It ! ! ! !
trevillian220 December 2013
First off I am a Rod Serling fan. Second I do not like this movie.. It is a once around as far as I am concerned. I know the story is not so cheery when the various ghosts visit and should end in a positive way with scrooge reforming and becoming a very pleasant person to know. In this version I don't think I would care to know him even after he has had his visits. It will shake you up, and make you think, but I have no desire to own it for secondary viewing. I was left feeling like the whole tale was a major bummer. It is very political and brings out anti-war feelings that were very strong in 1964. We were getting deeper into Vietnam, and of course Kennedy was fresh in every ones minds, so I am sure this hit hard with the message of this movie. I say see it if you are curious, but if you like the happier, upbeat versions this is not for you. By the way I don't like Scrooged either.
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5/10
Serling at his most naive and preachy
LCShackley31 December 2012
If you've watched Twilight Zone and Night Gallery (and I've seen them all), you know that when Rod Serling had a point to make, he could be very heavy-handed, obvious, and preachy. This film, unfortunately, is like three of those episodes strung together.

I grew up during the early 60s, and I remember the pro-UN propaganda we regularly received in grade school, going as far as asking us to collect coins for UNICEF while Trick-or-Treating. The UN was still fairly new then, and perhaps we were all more starry-eyed about what it could accomplish. The intervening decades have proved what a useless, crony-laden, corrupt, meddling outfit it truly is. So it's hard to watch this UN propaganda without cringing. (To be honest, the UN is not specifically mentioned, but its supposed missions are trumpeted throughout, and it WAS made as a plug.) So here, we get Sterling Hayden as the embodiment of everything lefties like Serling hated: militarism, isolationism (oddly enough), nuclear weapons,individualism, racism...fill in the blanks. There's even a little kid with a pretend gun, in case you didn't get the message about violence. The dialog is on par with Serling's other politically-motivated scripts, pretentiously poetic and deadly serious.

The fact that I gave it any stars at all reflects the high quality of the production and the acting. The cast does all it can with the material, and the set decoration and lighting are top-notch. Even the print itself is pristine, sharp and clear as the old TZ shows. Henry Mancini wrote the score, although the lovely tune "Carol for Another Christmas," which appears on his Christmas album, doesn't seem to show up in the movie that shares its name. For Serling fans, this is something to sit through just to say you did it. For others, except the most wide-eyed, naive, hopey-changers who believe (as the script and our current president repeats often) that talking is the solution to everything, it's a dull, wordy Dickensian dud.
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3/10
A Review for Another Carol
oceanchick20 December 2013
Thrilled to see the all-star "movie star" cast appearing in this piece, I watched this on TCM as part of their A Christmas Carol -a- thon. I didn't go into the movie expecting too much because I know it was made for TV and would be a very government film akin to Frank Capra's "Why We Fight" series. I sadly realized 4 minutes into the picture that this would be no better than the government message film "I Want You (1951)".

I will not go into the how's and why's this made for TV "holiday" drama was made as it can be read in the synopsis and other reviews. I will not address the extreme pro-UN message it attempts to pound into the viewers heads. I will instead focus on the movie briefly from a technical viewpoint.

Before I go into the flaws, I will point out that the movie has a couple sequences that are disturbing (in a good way), absurd and in the deepest darkness of a black comedy...namely the Sellers sequence. Sellers as Imperial Me pits narcissism against tolerant generosity in a Wells-ian fashion reminiscent of "The Trial" or the perverse nature of the Salem Witch Trials. The art-house theater sequences of the Ghost of Christmas Present show an attempt was made to make the movie thoughtfully. Unfortunately the demands of the script ruined it.

Script: Too much talking. How can a script have too much talking? Normally dialog isn't an issue but it is when the actors don't know what to do with it. Statistics, factoids, history lessons, moral lessons, more statistics, more factoids, more lessons with more emphasis...repeat for 83 minutes.

Acting: Sterling Hayden doesn't. He wore the same blah face as Dana Andrews throughout "I Want You" periodically tossing in a forced expression that looked more like constipation than any emotion I can pinpoint. I was looking forward to seeing Ben Gazzara, Eva Marie Saint and Peter Sellers (in his first return to screen post-heart attack role). I will always stop a moment to keep an eye out for a young James Shigeta and catch a glimpse of a handsome, hopefully sober Robert Shaw. All of these actors proved time and again in many roles that they are capable and believable in most of them. Yet in A Carol for Another Christmas, no one seems to do anything except recite lines in overtly Victorian style. Pat Hingle seemingly ignores Hayden and is the most convincing speaker in the movie but his government laden dribble slowly swallows even him. By the time he gets to the statistics of the hungry he looks crazed and Hayden honestly seems to not know the cameras are rolling because his eyes, presence, emoting of emotion, depth and dimension are all vacant. Sellers did do a great job, but he was an orator, not interacting with anyone except the audience. He did his best in his short time on screen. It became obvious scene after scene that the script was badly written and the actors were getting bogged down in it and with Hayden to react to, they were without hope. What's sad was that the director didn't do anything to amend the situation but rather continued to capture the tired disgrace of a movie.

Lighting: Hard to believe someone would get this so wrong, but the interiors of the house are done with such hard lighting the stair railing casts shadows upstairs from *below* that make the upstairs walls look like a painted Arabian set. The Eva Marie Saint sequence is almost blown out, vastly over lit or possibly overexposed. With her super blonde hair, the DP should have dialed things down, but in what appears to be an attempt to compensate for the hats and scene look like the outdoors, the actors appear to be inside a nuclear reaction. The overall lighting schematic is one of excess or deficiency. The final sequence where Hayden goes to have breakfast with his black maid and butler, the faces of the latter two can barely be seen, and no distinction of expression is visible because they are not lit correctly. The interview with the Ghost of Christmas Present uses artistic lighting and reveals effectively, but it is lost in the bowels of this movie.

Direction: Nowhere. No attempt seen to take the film past the superficial level. Since this isn't the first film w/ its history to turn out this way, it's becoming evident that believability was less important than rote facts being stated on screen.

By the end of the movie, I wanted to take Peter Sellers' "Giant Economy Size" tin can gavel and knock some sense into it. If you enjoy forced government message films, (hey, some people do...i enjoyed some of the Why We Fight series) you should check it out. If you expect the actor immersion in the roles, you will be disappointed, though Sellers does manage a wicked glimmer in his eye. Perhaps it wasn't for the role but for the audience because he knew just how bad this movie would be.
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5/10
Not As Good As I Remembered It
johnaquino31 January 2013
I remember seeing the film when it came out and then saw it again in late 2013 on Turner Classic Movies. In 1964 I was excited that it represented the pairing of a noted film director, Joseph Mankiewicz, fresh off his frustrating experience directing the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton Cleopatra (1963), and Rod Serling, fresh from the CBS TV series, The Twilight Zone (1959-1963), which he had created, wrote for, and hosted. As the title suggests, it was a modern version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

It had an all-star cast: Sterling Hayden as the Scrooge character called Grudge, Pat Hingle as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Steve Lawrence as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Eva Marie Saint as an nurse from Grudge's past, Robert Shaw as the Ghost of Christmas Future, and Peter Fonda, son of Henry Fonda, as Grudge's nephew. Fonda's scenes were cut to just glimpses of him, and in five years he would have an iconic role as a biker in Easy Rider. The actor who received the most press was Peter Sellers, who had debuted his character of Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther the year before and then had a heart attack. Carol marked his return to work. He would then co-star with Hayden in Dr. Strangelove.

The filmmakers even went to the trouble of reuniting the Andrew Sisters to re-record their 1942 hit number "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree," which is only heard in the film when a ghostly record player suddenly starts playing the recording, until Grudge pulls the needle off after a few seconds.

On its website, Turner Classic Movies invites you to tell it what little-seen films you would like them to show, and I kept writing in Carol for Another Christmas. Others must have too because they finally broadcast it.

I guess I was in love with the idea of it in 1964. On my re-seeing it, I felt Carol doesn't play well.The idea of pairing Mankiewicz and Serling was not a good one. They both had their preachy sides. Some of the Serling's Twilight Zone scripts represent the most searching and, sometimes, the most disturbing science fiction dramas ever made. But he did use the show to comment on issues such as racism, McCarthyism, and other isms that troubled the 1950s and 1960s, and his characters do seem to like the sounds of their own voices. Serling's screenplay for Seven Days in May the same year as Carol also has long stretches of dialog, but it was propelled forward by director John Frankenheimer, who plays with images within images, especially by showing television monitors all around, and a really top-notch cast.

Mankiewicz loved to hear his characters talk too, as his screenplays for All About Eve, Letter to Three Wives, and certainly the four-hour Cleopatra show. With Serling and Mankiewicz together, Carol goes on and on without seeming to move forward. It ends when the characters stop talking.

Part of the problem is the source material. A Christmas Carol has demonstrated that it can be remade and rethought again and again. This version was sponsored by the United Nations, who had its own story to tell about its role in the world. And so Serling had to tell the story not only of a man who hated Christmas but of a man whose war experience--and the death of his nephew on Christmas--caused him to become an isolationist and to resist the idea that nations and peoples can come together by talking. The two different concepts--I hate Christmas because I remember sad Christmases of my past, and I hate Christmas because it reminds me of war and I think our country should just stay to itself--do not really mesh.

The film only comes to life at the end in the apocalyptic landscape Serling was familiar with from The Twilight Zone, with Shaw as a well-spoken specter and Sellers as a crazy leader of the survivors of nuclear war. But overall, Carol is just a curiosity, a side-note to the careers of Serling and Sellers.
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Way Too Much Preaching
Michael_Elliott24 December 2012
A Carol for Another Christmas (1964)

* (out of 4)

Rod Sterling wrote this updated version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, which centers on a grieving father (Sterling Hayden) who recently lost his son in a war and takes his anger out on everyone around him. The man eventually gets visited by three ghosts (Steve Lawrence, Pat Hingle, Robert Shaw) and learns a lesson. A CAROL FOR ANOTHER Christmas was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and if you look around at reviews you'll see that there are many positive ones but I'm not going to be among them. In fact, I'd go as far to say that this here is without question the worst "version" of the Dickens' tale that I've ever seen and it's rather shocking that with a writer and director like this film has that the film could turn out so bad. The idea of updating the story isn't what kills the film. The film is a very anti-war picture that speaks of the evils of war and it pretty much beats the viewer over the head with its message. I don't mind any film being political and I don't mind a message being passed but what I can't stand is when that political message is poorly written and is nothing more than a writer ranting for people to hear his story. I personally grew tired of the dialogue within the first ten-minutes and I really started to hate the characters. Nothing here felt real because it just seemed like one big political rant. Yes, war is evil. Yes, people die in war. The message could have gotten across a lot better without all the preaching and bad dialogue. Not to mention countless bad situations where things happen for no reason other for another speech. The film offers up some fine performances by all and we also get Ben Gazzara, Eva Marie Saint, Britt Ekland and Peter Sellers in brief roles. Fans of the all-star cast are going to be tempted to watch this thing and it's a real shame their talents are so wasted.
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9/10
A Carol for Another Christmas
Scarecrow-8812 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Although it spends its running time preaching an anti-war, global- unity message, Serling's 60s-contemporary Christmas Carol variation has its heart in the right place, even if many might consider the pulpit sermon and bong sounding a bit wearisome. This cast is top to bottom with incredible talent, which might explain how important the United Nations Special meant to those involved.

Sterling Hayden as the heart-hardened military powerhouse, Daniel Drudge, a lonely, bitter man who lost a son to WWII and is against his nephew's (Cassavetes' vet, Ben Gazzara) UN peace efforts; Steve Lawrence as Ghost of Christmas Past, a phantom representing all the soldiers, from every nation, taking Drudge to the battlefield; Eva Marie Saint as a Naval officer in the past who accompanied Drudge to a particular bombed area of Japan where they encounter a tent housing burned-face children for which anguished her; passionate Pat Hingle as Ghost of Christmas Present, at a dinner table covered in food and the finest trimmings, reveals barbwire fences and captives singing carols, certainly confronting Drudge about the plentiful times he's enjoyed the finer things while many others starve; Robert Shaw as Ghost of Christmas Future, in robe and speaking with righteous indignation, presenting an America wrought in rubble and madness; a masterful Peter Sellers as a rabble-rousing, messianic madman instigating a remnant of human deviants out of the Holocaust of the future to embrace selfish doctrine and hold close to Imperial Me instead of unifying to salvage what is left of mankind; Percy Rodrigues as both Drudge's butler/manservant and a rational, peace-minded man of conscience trying to appeal to Sellers' followers in a future fallen to ruin; pre- stardom Britt Ekland as a knitting Imperial Me follower.

This one doesn't have Hayden returning from his visits in time with the phantoms a spiritually rejuvenated man ready to make the world a bright and shiny place. Serling instead realistically ends it with Hayden and Gazzara agreeing that they need to help do something that makes a difference in the world they live. Not extravagant or extraordinary but just something instead of nothing. The Serling-ian dialogue is cerebral, thought-provoking, confrontational, long- winded, and heavily political. It asks not only Hayden but us how we will help make a difference. Nothing much has changed since 1964, which many might say this film is as relevant today as ever before. But it uses Christmas Carol as a platform for change and might be a nuisance to those not quite beholden to the message it wishes for us to accept and be influenced into action by. If anything this film just wants us to listen.
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