SCROOGE

(1951)
With Alistair Sim, Kathleen Harrison, Mervyn Johns, Hermione Baddeley, Michael Hordern
Directed by Bryan Desmond Hurst
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

While making out Christmas card, Scrooge ponders the spelliing of "humbug"     A favorite of many Christmas movie fans, this 1951 version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol still may be the best film adaptation of that classic little tale.  Unlike many other versions, the '51 SCROOGE delves deeply into the possible reasons Ebenezer Scrooge is such a humbug, with the Ghost of Christmas Past section revealing several things that were not in Dickens' book.  Otherwise, it is a close, faithful adaptation of Dickens' novelette.

     Alistair Sim is not the wizened old geezer we may picture from the book, yet he is the definitive Scrooge.  His redemption scene, when he realizes Christmas has not come and gone, is the standard by which all other such scenes must be compared. Sim makes Scrooge's laughter and love for life so infectious and heartfelt, you may find yourself tearing up while joining him in that laughter.  Michael Hordern portrays one of the ghostliest Jacob Marleys on record, and Mervyn Johns and Hermione Baddeley are equally exquisite as Mr. and Mrs. Bob Cratchit.

     The cinematography is often stunning, and it is not much of a leap to suspect that certain shots in the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come section had some impact on Ingmar Bergman.  The special effects never go beyond simple double-exposure, but they still work wonderfully.

     There are many fine versions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, but for me, the tale has never been told better, and with more style, than in 1951's SCROOGE. Along with GOING MY WAY, it is my favorite Christmas Eve movie. - JB

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