Movie Name: An American Christmas Carol
Studio: Smith-Hemion Productions
Release Date(s): December 16, 1979
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Benedict Slade (Henry Winkler) is an angry man. As a lender, he holds the fate of many who struggle to get by in his hands. As Christmas comes, Slade finds himself faced with the sins of his past and three spirits who intend to remind him of how he reached this point in his life. Slade learns that his actions have consequences and if his soul is to be saved, it must happen now!
Directed by Eric Till, An American Christmas Carol was a Canadian made-for-TV movie that first aired on December 16, 1979. The story is a modernization of Charles Dickens’ 1843 classic story “A Christmas Carol”.
“A Christmas Carol” is one of those stories that just seems to pop-up in a new version every few years. With multiple versions of the story, it becomes fun to watch multiple versions and judge the different versions of Scrooge. Granted, Scrooge is called Slade here, but the spirit of the story remains true.
The movie makes some odd choices in the telling. It is a modernized version but in the modern version Charles Dickens’ story exists (Slade takes an original copy of it). Even at this point, I think everyone would have heard of the story and I think people would begin to say “doesn’t this remind you A Christmas Carol?”. It is a flaw by putting the original story within the movie and isn’t explored as much as it should have been.
In 1979, Henry Winkler was a king and a movie starring Winkler probably went over well with the Fonz riding high in Happy Days. With Winkler now a supporting actor, it is odd to remember he was once a leading man. Winkler is backed up by a nice supporting cast primarily made up of Canadian actors (including Sammy Snyders from my favorite bad movie The Pit and Chris Wiggins from Friday the 13th: The Series).
The movie looks rather cheap. It is a made-for-TV movie and it looks like it. The movie’s “old age” make-up doesn’t work well on Winkler and Winkler tries to act old but I don’t really see an old man but the Fonz made up like an old man. It also doesn’t help that the quality of the transfers is generally quite poor.
An American Christmas Carol is a different entry in the multiple versions of this classic Christmas tale. The concept of the story has some interesting aspects, but I felt that there were missed opportunities and some bizarre choices made. The idea of a “modern” telling of “A Christmas Carol” has been used in multiple sitcoms and dramas…this just feels like another entry in that trend.
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