So, we had the eighties version yesterday in Bill Murray’s Scrooged, today it is time for the classic film version. It’s also a film beloved in Britain, but not so much in America.
And today it’s…
23rd November, Day 24
Scrooge (Brian Desmond Hurst, 1951)
Ebeneezer Scrooge (Alastair Sim) is a miserly businessman who thinks of Christmas as a humbug, and doesn’t plan to celebrate it. He turns down the pleas of someone who owes him money for an extension, and won’t give anything to two men collecting for the poor. When his nephew Fred (Brian Worth, who also starred alongside Sim in An Inspector Calls) comes to invite Scrooge to spend Christmas with him, he turns it down, not understanding why Fred got married. He only allows his long-suffering clerk Bob Cratchit (long-time character actor Mervyn Johns) to have Christmas Day off on the condition that he comes in extra early the next day to make up the time.
During a late night Christmas Eve meal of gruel (Scrooge knows how to celebrate!) he is interrupted by the ghost of his dead former business partner Jacob Marley, who warns him to change his ways before it is too late.Scrooge hides away in his bed, but is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. They show him the error of his way, but will Scrooge realise the true meaning of Christmas – and just how much of a difference he can make with just a little good will to all men.
Scrooge is a classic film, but as you know by now, this Snooty Usher judges films not on artistic merit and reputation, but by how entertaining they are. Although you’ve seen this story told, parodied, spoofed, and subverted many times over, this is one of the very, very best. In fact, the age of the films now gives it another layer of authenticity. This is also probably the most heart breaking journey, as the addition of a corrupting mentor setting him on his path of misery, rather than Scrooge’s nature, earns Scrooge more sympathy than I felt for the original literary character. Similarly, the reasoning for his distance from Fred, as a way to deal with his grief, as opposed to being a mean grump, is another plus that (at least if memory serves) is an addition to the original book.
Also, seeing George Cole 30 years before he became Arthur Daley in Minder is a treat. The ghoulish, scary nature of the ghosts, are amplified by the black and white, old time feel of the film. As I mentioned, the age of the film gives it more authenticity – Scrooge’s world is cold, and black and white, and Victorian, and that is what this film feels like, more so than others, until the joyful ending. Sorry if that’s a spoiler!
Overall, I give this
A true great of British cinema. For once, it’s old-fashionedness (I’ve written 24 reviews in 24 days, I’m allowed to make up words!), works in its favour. Maybe I’ve overrated it compared to some other films, but these are always going to be subjective scores
It’s the third part of my Scrooge trilogy with THE MUPPET’S CHRISTMAS CAROL! I’ve not been able to find a copy of the Jim Carey animated version directed Robert Zemeckis to add to this list. Hey, maybe next year… People are giving me suggestions like I’m not already watching enough Christmas films!
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
PS Here’s my list so far
31st October, Day 1: The Nightmare Before Christmas
1st November, Day 2: Rocky IV
2nd November, Day 3: Edward Scissorhands
3rd November, Day 4: Trading Places
4th November, Day 5: Batman Returns
5th November, Day 6: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
6th November, Day 7: Gremlins
7th November, Day 8: Eyes Wide Shut
8th November, Day 9: Love Actually
9th November, Day 10: Lethal Weapon
10th November, Day 11: Die Hard / Die Hard 2
11th November, Day 12: About A Boy
12th November, Day 13: Trapped In Paradise
13th November, Day 14: Reindeer Games
14th November, Day 15: Joyeux Noel
15th November, Day 16: Nativity / Nativity 2 / Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey?
16th November, Day 17: Jack Frost
17th November, Day 18: Jack Frost
18th November, Day 19: Arthur Christmas
19th November, Day 20: The Santa Clause / The Santa Clause 2 / The Santa Clause 3
20th November, Day 21: Miracle On 34th Street
21st November, Day 22: Miracle On 34th Street
22nd November, Day 23: Scrooged
23rd November, Day 24: Scrooge