Movie Name: Scrooge
Studio: Cinema Center Films
Release Date(s): November 5, 1970
MPAA Rating: G
Ebenezer Scrooge (Albert Finney) lives as a miser in London and hating everyone. Now it is Scrooge’s least favorite time of the year…Christmas. A visit from his old partner Jacob Marley (Alec Guinness) sends Scrooge down a path of redemption and visits from the Ghost of Christmas Past (Edith Evans), the Ghost of Christmas Present (Kenneth More), and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Paddy Stone). Can Scrooge be saved or is he damned to walk the Earth in chains.
Directed by Ronald Neame, Scrooge adapts the classic 1843 story A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The musical was released to acclaim and over the years has gained a cult following. The movie was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Original Song (“Thank You Very Much”), and Best Score. Albert Finney’s portrayal of Scrooge won a Golden Globe.
Scrooge was our family’s version of A Christmas Carol. It is generally the version we would watch year after year. Recorded from TV, even the old VCR tape became worn before perishing…Scrooge is still my Scrooge.
You know the story, so the strength of Scrooge is Finney and the cast. Finney himself is great with some amazing “old-age” make-up which had me not realizing it was him in the flashback scenes as well as a kid. David Collings and Francis Cuka give nice turns as Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit. Richard Beaumont is charged with always the most difficult part of any adaptation…the portrayal of Tiny Tim. It is a difficult role because Tim is too perfect of a kid and often comes off as sappy. Beaumont is sappy (especially his “Beautiful Day” song), but does the best he can. The Ghosts which are always a high point also had some clout with Guinness as Marley (the most effeminate one ever), Dame Edith Evans and Kenneth More (big British actors) round out the ghosts. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come was portrayed by Paddy Stone, and led to one of the more bizarre parts of the movie.
When the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come confronts Scrooge in the graveyard he is revealed to be a skeleton. Scrooge falls into the grave. Growing up, that is where the movie jumped to Scrooge waking up on Christmas morning, but there is a Hell scene that was often cut out of network play. Scrooge finds himself in Hell and Alec Guinness returns as Marley. He’s led to a freezing cold room and loaded down with chains by fat oily guys in masks. It is pretty bizarre and unnecessary…hence the reason it was left out. By that point in the movie it is kind of pounded in that dying without Scrooge changing his ways is bad. It does however explain why the sheets were wrapped around his neck on Christmas morning.
The big plus to this version are the fun songs. Due to copyright stuff, they were never released on CD and only had a record release when the movie came out. They are catchy and fun. They don’t all relate to Christmas, but songs like “December the Twenty-Fifth” and “A Christmas Carol” are peppy and fun. Who can forget the “Thank You Very Much” finale that even became a subject of a bank commercial in recent years.
With all the Christmas Carol versions floating around, this is one of the better ones. Check it out. It might be a bit sappy for those who haven’t grown up with it, but kids will enjoy it. With a nice soundtrack, good cast, and a decent telling of a classic story, Scrooge is a good entry in the multiple versions of A Christmas Carol…and you cannot help humming “Thank You Very Much” by the end of the film.