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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 absolutely despises this time of the year. He thinks Christmas is all humbug. He doesn't buy his nephew's talk of Christmas being a kind time, thinks it's absolute madness his servant Cratchit 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 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, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Written by Arnoud Tiele (imdb@tiele.nl)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy

Certificate:

TV-PG
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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
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Old Joe is absent in this production, but Mrs. Dilber and the Undertaker appear in the same scene as Scrooge's shrouded body. Mrs. Dilber is both Scrooge's former laundress and charlady in this television film. See more »

Connections

Version of Scrooge (1922) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Short length and low budget but faithful to Dickens
20 December 2008 | by roghacheSee all my reviews

Considering the short length and limited budget, this BBC production is an excellent version. It does appear like a theatrical production that's been put on video and some of the sets are simply painted backgrounds. However, none of this bothered me and I actually prefer it to some higher budget versions. I agree with another reviewer here who claimed you could feel the cold in Scrooge's office when Cratchit is warming his hands at the candle!

Michael Hordern certainly looks the part of Scrooge. However, he is not compelling in the role, no match for Alastair Sim who really draws the viewer in. There seems no emotional engagement with Scrooge, little of the warmth that some actors bring to the role. It's Scrooge himself who drives the story and the attachment a viewer should feel to the character simply wasn't there. This may be partly due to the short length and the fact that the older, present day Scrooge isn't very involved in the storytelling. The spirits present their flashbacks and glimpses with little input from him.

The major problem with this adaptation is length, it being impossible to do the story justice in one hour. Either vital characters and scenes must be omitted and/or there's a rushed feeling. Here the major characters are present -- even debtors Caroline and her husband showing relief at Scrooge's death (not shown in most versions). The main scenes are also depicted though sometimes quite abbreviated. There is a rushed feeling to the production, especially at the end. For instance, when Scrooge joins Fred and his wife for Christmas dinner, barely do they exchange greetings. The scene is simply too hurried to get the proper dramatic sense of the joy these relatives feel in connecting.

This production features an excellent supporting cast. This is one of only two versions I've seen (the other being the 1999 Patrick Stewart) where Christmas Present ages during the course of his visit, as he does according to Dickens. I loved nephew Fred and found Bob Cratchit one of the most compelling I've seen. The Cratchit children are reduced from six in number to four -- budget constraints perhaps!

One aspect I appreciated, despite its deviation from the original, was Fred's 'scaled down' dinner party. Instead of the large gathering typically shown, there's only a foursome -- Fred, his wife, and one other couple sitting in the parlour. This gives the scene what I've aptly heard described as a charming intimacy. Another notable deviation from the novelette is the children Ignorance and Want appearing apart from the Spirit of Christmas Present rather than underneath his robe.

The primary attraction of this adaptation is its faithfulness to Dickens, apart from these minor exceptions mentioned. Almost all the dialogue is verbatim, albeit Scrooge fails to mention 'smoking bishop' in his final conversation with Bob! For all true fans of the Carol, I consider this a 'must see' version, if only to watch 'Marley' from the famous 1951 Alastair Sim version himself playing Scrooge!


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