“Go and redeem some other promising young creature, but leave me to keep Christmas in my own way.”
Miserly Ebenezer Scrooge (Alastair Sim) is visited by the ghost of his former business partner (Michael Hordern), as well as the spirits of Christmas Past (Michael Dolan), Christmas Present (Francis De Wolff), and Christmas Yet To Come (C. Konarski), all of whom attempt to help him mend the error of his ways.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Alastair Sim Films
- Character Arc
- Flashback Films
This mid-century British version of Dickens’ classic Christmas-time parable is viewed by some critics — including Peary — as the best of numerous cinematic adaptations. It’s notable primarily for Alastair Sim’s definitive performance in the lead role as Ebenezer Scrooge, a widely disliked miser who undergoes a tremendous change of heart during the most terrifying and life-altering night of his existence. Sim manages to effectively humanize Scrooge to the extent that we eventually sympathize with this notoriously miserable codger — a man who (according to Peary in Alternate Oscars) “is initially heartless and friendless, as stingy with kindness as he is with money”, who “curses Christmas, shoves aside young carolers, and refuses to accept Christmas cheer or give money to help the unfortunate through the holidays”. Noel Langley’s literate screenplay largely respects Dickens’ overall vision and words — though an attempt to explain Scrooge’s cynicism via back stories of his sister’s death during childbirth (just as Scrooge himself was the cause of his own mother’s death) doesn’t quite convince. Narrative quibbles aside, however, this remains a visually sumptuous and heartwarming historical fantasy, one which film fanatics are sure to enjoy.
Note: This is the only cinematic version of A Christmas Carol listed in Peary’s book; are there others that might be considered “Missing Titles”?
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Alastair Sim as Scrooge (Peary votes him Best Actor of the Year in his Alternate Oscars book)
- Mervyn Johns as Bob Cratchit
- C. Pennington-Richards’ cinematography
- Fine period sets
Yes, for Sim’s performance, and as an enjoyable Christmas classic. Listed as a film with Historical Importance and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.
- Good Show
- Noteworthy Performance(s)