6.7/10
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A Christmas Carol (1977)

Miser Ebenezer Scrooge hates Christmas, but then gets a visit from his companion Jacob Marley, who has been dead for seven years. He urges Scrooge to change his life.

Director:

Moira Armstrong

Writers:

Charles Dickens (short story), Elaine Morgan (dramatised by)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Hordern ... Scrooge
John Le Mesurier ... Marley's Ghost
Bernard Lee ... Ghost of Christmas Present
Patricia Quinn ... Ghost of Christmas Past
Paul Copley ... Fred
Clive Merrison ... Bob Cratchit
Carol MacReady ... Mrs. Cratchit
Maev Alexander Maev Alexander ... Fred's Wife
Zoë Wanamaker ... Belle
Stephen Churchett ... John
Will Stampe Will Stampe ... Fezziwig
Christopher Biggins ... Topper
Tricia George ... Little Blonde
John Salthouse ... Scrooge as a Young Man
Veronica Doran Veronica Doran ... Caroline
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Storyline

It's the end of December and professional miser Ebenezer Scrooge (Sir Michael Hordern) absolutely despises this time of the year. He thinks Christmas is all a humbug. He doesn't buy his nephew's talk of Christmas being a kind time, thinks it's absolute madness his servant Bob Cratchit (Clive Merrison) wants a day off and sends away collectors of donations for the poor penniless. It's also the time of the year in which his companion Jacob Marley (John Le Mesurier) died seven years ago. When he is all alone, he suddenly sees Marley again, in the door handle, in a tile, a bell suddenly rings. Humbug, thinks Scrooge. But then Marley really appears for him and tells him he should change his life. He warns Scrooge he will be haunted by three spirits, the Ghost of Christmas Past (Patricia Quinn), the Ghost of Christmas Present (Bernard Lee), and the Ghost of Christmas Future (Michael Mulcaster). Written by Arnoud Tiele (imdb@tiele.nl)

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Genres:

Drama | Fantasy

Certificate:

TV-PG
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Scrooge was likely based on a real person named John Meggot, (born John Elwes), who was a local celebrity, a member of Parliment, and a famous miser from Dickens' part of England, and who was dead by the time Dickens was born, but whom Dickens heard much local lore and urban legends from the English townspeople where Scrooge grew up; family, friends, etc. A recent article uncovers facts about the famous miser from Parliment's life: "John was educated the the Westminster School, an exclusive boarding school in Westminster Abbey in London. He spent more than a decade there, then lived in Switzerland for a few years before returning to England. When he was in his twenties and thirties, Meggot gave little hint of the man he would become. He dressed well, spent money freely, and moved among London's most fashionable circles. He developed a taste for French wines and fine dining. He was a skilled horseman and fox hunter, and he had a passion for gambling -he bet, and often lost, thousands of pounds in card game". The eccentric politician became the subject of local lore because he was so stingy and selfish; and his eccentric life style: "where his own comfort and material well-being were concerned, Elwes would not part with a penny. Where once he dressed in rags only to impress his uncle, he now wore them all the time, and never cleaned his shoes -that might wear them out faster. Friends said he looked "like a prisoner confined for debt."

Like his uncle, Elwes allowed his estates to fall into ruin. He refused to buy a carriage and wondered how anyone could think he could afford one. Riding a horse was cheaper, especially the way he did it: before setting off on a journey, he'd fill his pockets with hardboiled eggs so he wouldn't have to pay for meals in taverns. He rode in the soft dirt by the side of the road rather than on the road itself, so that he wouldn't have to buy horseshoes for his horses. He traveled hours out of the way to avoid toll roads. If he needed to stop for the night, he'd find a spot by the side of the road that had lots of grass (so that his horse could eat for free) and sleep beneath a tree to save the price of a room at an inn. Elwes' mania for frugality extended to his own family. He had two sons out of wedlock (because marriage cost money) and refused to pay for their education. "Putting things into people's heads," he explained, "was the sure way to take money out of their pockets."' Dickens heard all of this and was inspired to put together a fable about how the modern virtues of capitalism come head to head with the old fashioned values of Christmas; and how this character would have to make a choice between the two. See more »

Connections

Version of A Christmas Carol (1999) See more »

User Reviews

 
A Christmas CAROL (TV) (Moira Armstrong, 1977) **1/2
29 December 2011 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

This was at least the 14th screen adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens tale that I have watched (the others being those made in 1935, 1938, 1951, 1962, 1964, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1992 and 2006) with another (dating from 2009) following only 2 days later! While the 1951 version is universally acknowledged as the finest rendition (though one cannot really put a finger on why it works so well, given its modest credentials!), a few of the rest (including the 1983 animated Disney short!) are well enough regarded as well. Incidentally, while several actors have attempted to give life to the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, Alastair Sim's portrayal was so vivid and perfectly-realized (he would also voice the character in the 1971 animated version by Richard Williams) that all later remakes would have to be judged against it, and this is were the film under review decidedly comes up lacking!

Ironically, the otherwise reliable character actor involved – Michael Hordern – had played Scrooge's partner Jacob Marley in both adaptations involving Sim (Marley, then, is here incarnated by John LeMesurier, another welcome presence), but his contribution in this case comes across as no more than workmanlike. The main reason for this, I guess, also has to do with the script's scrupulous adhering to the letter of the original source which, again, was superbly-delivered – in his inimitable fashion – by Sim! I am sure it is not necessary for me to relate the plot line: with this in mind, the many familiar characters are adequately-filled (most impressively perhaps by Patricia Quinn – fresh from THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW {1975}! – as the Ghost Of Christmas Past, with Bernard Lee – 'M' in the first 11 instalments of the James Bond franchise – also on hand as the Ghost Of Christmas Present). Besides, the eerie elements of the narrative (which, admittedly, is what really draws me to this piece, as opposed to the sentimental subplot involving the fate of Tiny Tim!) are given their due…but, all in all, the film merely sticks to the standard of British TV productions of the era i.e. generally tasteful in approach and undeniably practised in execution, it is also inherently dull!


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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 December 1977 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

A Christmas Carol See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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