« The Unseen World | Main | 'The Viewfinder Story' is Published (Leaked?) »

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The original black and white 1951 version of A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sims (not the colorized version) is probably my favorite movie of all time. As you said, it's the acting that makes it so real. I love to watch it each year, if I get the opportunity.

Mike, if you haven't seen it, you should.

I second, third and fourth Mike's recommendation for this Christmas story. Just read his review, and then watch the video. My wife and I intend to watch it after Christmas Eve services in Charlottesville, Virginia.

All our best for the holiday season,


I agree that this is the best and I have seen a number of versions. Scott is the most convincing Scrooge of the bunch, a person not a caricature.

So what are the other four Christmas stories that Dickens wrote? I hadn't heard of them.

Yeah, the George C Scott version is top notch. Personally though, I'm waiting for the "Dr. Who" version debuting on 12/25/10. Maybe they should have done it when David Tennant was the Doctor. The 2009 version of "Hamlet" with Tennant and Patrick Stewart was superb...

Hi Mike:

My favorite has always been the version with Alastair Sim playing Ebenezer Scrooge. Terrific ensemble acting and wonderful cinematography.

Here is a link to a short scene:


Merry Christmas!

for the non-american, alastair sim as mr scrooge has never been topped.

bah humbug!

also mr pickwick's christmas from "the pickwick papers" has much charm to recommend it.

"So what are the other four Christmas stories that Dickens wrote? I hadn't heard of them."

From Wikipedia: "Dickens...capitalized on the success of the book by annually publishing other Christmas stories in 1844, 1845, 1846, and 1848. The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life, and The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain were all based on the pattern laid down in Carol—a secular conversion tale laced with social injustice. While the public eagerly bought the later books, the critics bludgeoned them. Dickens himself questioned The Battle of Life's worth."


Well, my favorite was the Mr. Magoo version, but I haven't seen it since I was a kid. I did see the George C. Scott version a few times, and as a both a Scrooge and a Scott fan I loved it. Since you mentioned it, now I'll have to fiddle with iTunes (if I can get it in Japan) and watch it. Humbug.

Another vote for Alistair Sim (in the UK, the film was called Scrooge, not A Christmas Carol). George C. Scott was an excellent Scrooge, but the earlier film's Dickensian atmosphere could be cut with a knife, and hasn't, to me, been surpassed in any film adaptation

Who would be the Dickens of our time? Do we still need a Dickens...I would say yes.

My mother had a volume of Dicken's Christmas stories ( called "Cricket on the Hearth") You have inspired me to take it down and read it this year. I just finished "Christmas Carol" as I do each year.
I am glad so many have mentioned the Alistair Sim version. My favorite, although Scott is just as good.

When I was a kid our family spent a couple of evenings each holiday season reading A Christmas Carol. We all took turns reading aloud from the book. I'm not sure whether people have the time or inclination to do that sort of thing today. No doubt my memory of those times has taken on a rosy glow after fifty years.

Thanks Mike,
I checked Amazon and they have Kindle versions of all 4 but oddly the only one which was not available free was the one Dicken's himself didn't think was as good.

I think the Alistair Sim version of the movie is the one my wife favors. We (she & I) agree that the Patrick Stewart version is the worst. He's generally a good actor but he badly overplayed that role. Surprisingly the Disney version is pretty good although I found Bob Cratchet's sudden transformation from character to narrator at the end to be rather jarring. It did include the "restless spirits" scene.

Even as someone who is not exactly in love with Christmas, I think the George C. Scott version of "A Christmas Carol" is wonderful. I love doing a (no doubt terrible) imitation of Scott's Scrooge every time someone complains about a room being cold:

"These are garments, Mr. Cratchit. Garments were invented by the human race as a protection against the cold. Once purchased, they may be used indefinitely for the purpose for which they are intended. Coal burns. Coal is momentary and coal is costly."

(Unfortunately, Scrooge neglects to mention the impact of fossil fuel burning on global climate change, but I'll give him a pass on it.)

I've been watching the Mr. Magoo version every year since I was a kid... there's a video file of it downloadable online somewhere, and I bought the DVD some years ago. I love it. The music is just wonderful.

I've heard from others how good the Scott version is, so maybe I'll check it out on Netflix streaming this year.

It's non-traditional but I liked Bill Murray's "Scrooged".

Have a good holiday, all the best for 2011.

Count me as another who had favored the Alistair Sim (1951) version of "A Christmas Carol" since I was a very young boy. I encountered it playing on tv late one night (probably during The Season) and I was hooked. I've watched it every Christmas night since I could get a copy in the 1980's.

The runner-up that I most often encounter is the 1938 Reginald Owen version. It's very good and has its equally-devoted share of followers.

But I've never encountered anyone claiming that the George C. Scott version was their favorite! I was quite a fan of Scott's work, particularly of his "Patton". (Seeing clips and photos of the real George Patton after having seen the film many, many times since its production I recall being disappointed. The real Patton looked and sounded a bit wimpy compared to Scott!) I don't recall the Scott version of A Christmas Carol being especially bad but I just could not escape the impression that this was George Patton playing Dickens's Scrooge. It creeped me up a bit.

The various incarnations of "A Christmas Carol" represent perhaps the best examples of "to each his own". Choosing a favorite is not generally about the performance or production. It's generally about where you were, physically and emotionally, when you saw "your" version. Maybe, for some people, it provided a brief island of comfort in a sea of fear and sadness. I recall, for example, watching people in a hospital waiting room seemingly riveted to the Reginald Owen "Scrooge" as is played quietly near the ceiling one holiday evening.

So wherever you are, whatever your circumstances, may you all find your favorite version of "A Christmas Carol" this season.

I've long been a fan of the 1951 Alistair Sim version as well. I've seen it several times over the years. It's also very good and has a lot to recommend it.


"The supporting cast...are inspired, rather than overwhelmed."
Overwhelmed by Scott, you mean? Why would they be? These are some of the best actors of their day. They could hold their own with anyone. In fact, it might be just as good to turn the statement around.

As far as favorites, Sim's is mine as well, though I haven't revisited the earlier versions in a long time, and I think I remember liking the 1938, and don't think I have ever seen the '23. Scott's is probably my second favorite, though I do think he kind of walked through it in parts (probably unfair, Scott doesn't "walk through" anything, really). Anyway, Sim nailed it for me, particularly the transformation--Christmas morning, which is the pay-off in the movie. Sim's portrayal of giddy joy and abandon is better for me. But you can't go wrong with either.

James, The Battle of Life is available from Project Gutenberg (Dickens died in 1870, so it's all solidly public domain). Specifically, it's at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/676 There's a Kindle version, just click the right link there.

I ODed on this story long, long ago, without ever becoming a big fan. Locally, the Big Deal is the Guthrie Theater's live production each year. I've never gone to see that.

I think I'll have to be a contrarian and say that I love the version with Patrick Stewart. My only complaint is that when he starts trying to laugh it sounds as if he's coughing up a hairball...

Crumbs. UK readers of a certain age may remember Mark Strickson, seen in your frame grab above, better as eighties Doctor Who companion Vislor Turlough.

just a note about Christmas tree. The guardian a couple of weeks ago ram the Prince Albert intoduced the Christmas tree story. This was followed a week or so later by a letter from a historian explaining why this wasn't true (her exasperation was smoked from the page) giving several examples of Christmas trees being mentioned in sources well before the arrival of poor old Albert in England. I hope she doesn't read TOP. Anyway have a good Christmas

Another good movie about Christmas you should see: "Smoke", 1995, directed by Wayne Wang upon a screenplay of Paul Auster. Enjoy.

Here is the scene of the Christmas story by Auggie Wren:




You're welcome!

I should really give the credit to my wife, who introduced me to this version. Incidentally, she played the Ghost of Christmas Future in junior high school, on account of being the tallest person in the class. I'd have made a good Tiny Tim for the exact opposite reason. ;-)

Happy Christmas, one and all!

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007