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Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ is one of the most adapted stories ever. According to Wikipedia, it has been adapted for stage over fifty times, and has around twenty each film and television versions. It’s a morality tale and a ghost story, and works brilliantly on both counts. I think that is what makes this story so popular and so lasting.

I had the pleasure of watching “Scrooge” (1951) recently, and it would definitely be considered among the best adaptations of this story.

The star, Alistair Sim, made a fantastic Scrooge. He is as equally believable as a miserable old miser, a quivering and fearful victim, and finally, a man reborn, full of the joy that comes through thinking of others. It is a sheer pleasure to watch him, and he really commands this film. After his change towards the end of the movie, his constant breaking out into giggles because he is having such fun being nice is hilarious.

That being said, other actors in this film are equally fun to watch. It is interesting to see Michael Hordern in the role of Marley, a young George Cole as young Scrooge, and even a young Patrick Macnee (better known as Steed in the old Avengers series.) I always find it fun to watch familiar actors when they were much younger.

The special effects used are of course dated, but perfectly adequate for the time and place (ie early fifties Britain.) The script does add scenes to the story that do not appear in the book, but I didn’t think there was anything out of place – I am not a purist about such things. The rest of the supporting cast, were also wonderful.

Now, this is less about this particular adaptation than about the story itself. If there is a flaw in this plot, it is that the main character’s conversion to a nice person is perhaps too abrupt. Even given the extreme circumstances under which this occurs, he could be forgiven for the occasional backsliding along the way. We are given to believe that his conversion is immediate and complete. That being said, while this would certainly be unusual, I don’t find it completely beyond belief. I think from what we see of young Ebenezer, he starts his life as a nice person who is soured by certain influences, and if we look at it like that, then his conversion is more a reversion to what he should always have been, rather than something utterly unlike himself.

Anuway, I highly recommend ‘Scrooge’. It’s a great Christmas choice, and thoroughly enjoyable at any time of the year.



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