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A Christmas Carol (1984)

An old bitter miser who rationalizes his uncaring nature learns real compassion when three spirits visit him on Christmas Eve.

Director:

Clive Donner

Writers:

Charles Dickens (novel), Roger O. Hirson (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
George C. Scott ... Ebenezer Scrooge
Frank Finlay ... Jacob Marley
Angela Pleasence ... Ghost of Christmas Past
Edward Woodward ... Ghost of Christmas Present
Michael Carter ... Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
David Warner ... Bob Cratchit
Susannah York ... Mrs. Cratchit
Anthony Walters Anthony Walters ... Tiny Tim
Roger Rees ... Fred Holywell / Narrator
Caroline Langrishe ... Janet Holywell
Lucy Gutteridge ... Belle
Nigel Davenport ... Silas Scrooge
Mark Strickson ... Young Scrooge
Joanne Whalley ... Fan
Timothy Bateson ... Mr. Fezziwig
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Storyline

Made for television version of the Charles Dickens classic of the same name. Ebenezer Scrooge is a hard-nosed, single-minded businessman in Victorian London. He has no friends, has disowned his only living relative - his nephew Fred Holywell - and generally treats everyone he meets with extreme contempt. He hates Christmas, only cares about making money and only gives his clerk, Bob Cratchit, the day off. However, he is taught the true meaning and spirit of Christmas by three ghosts who show him his own past and present. He is also shown what the future holds for him after his death if he doesn't change his behavior for the better. Written by Jason Ihle <jrihl@conncoll.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Rediscover the Joy of Christmas Spirit! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Family | Fantasy

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | Portuguese

Release Date:

17 December 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Charles Dickens Weihnachtsgeschichte See more »

Filming Locations:

England, UK See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For unknown reasons, Angela Pleasence's voice was dubbed See more »

Goofs

Fred's wife, Janet, is wearing her hair in a style called "a la Frankie," created in Paris during the 1780s to resemble the beaver skin cap worn by Benjamin Franklin. This would have gone out of style by the 1830s, when the story is set, and would not likely have been seen in Enland much at all. See more »

Quotes

Ebenezer Scrooge: [when he views shrouded corpse while entering an abandoned bedroom with the Spirit of Christmas Yet-to-Come] Merciful Heaven. What is this? Spirit, this is a fearful place. I wish to leave it.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Hewy's Animated Movie Reviews: A Christmas Carol (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

God Bless Us Everyone
Lyrics by Tony Bicât
Music by Nick Bicât
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
My favorite Christmas Carol
13 December 2006 | by fourdotsSee all my reviews

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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