- Produced and Directed by Brian Desmond Hurst
- November 22, 1951 (Odeon Marble Arch) / November 28, 1951 (New York)
Scrooge learns the error of his ways in this 1951 adaption of the classic story.
I think the story is okay in this version of A Christmas Carol. I am not saying it is terrible but it’s not as good as it could have been. Each iteration of A Christmas Carol has taken some liberties with the book’s narrative. Certain directors have expanded upon or eliminated things from the story. Such is the nature of adapting a book to the screen. Having read the book and seen numerous adaptions of the story I felt that some of the alterations in this version were unnecessary. For instance I do not think anybody really cares about the specifics of how Marley and Scrooge came to be partners.
Besides finding the story okay, any other issues I have with this film are connected to its age. It was filmed as if it were a stage play and not as if it were a dramatic production. Then again directors who got their start in playhouses were still making movies so many of the things we see now on a regular basis to raise tension or for comedic effect or whatever were not in as large of a practice as they are now.
Alastair Sim is absolutely brilliant as Ebenezer Scrooge. That cannot be argued with. This man set the standard for Ebenezer Scrooge. His portrayal is what everyone expects when they go to see a version of this story. His is the portrayal most often emulated. That says something about his talent, and I dare say even the strength of this film with other people.
Perhaps it is because even though they made changes to the story they still got across the message that a material life is not a good life. It is not all about acquiring things but rather relationships with others and doing right when needed. It’s about the transformative power of Christmas and its true meaning. And it’s about how the past can poison the present.
We have a strong and talented cast that makes the material worth watching. They deliver it earnestly and give it depth. For instance Patrick Macnee, who was just starting out, shows up as a young Jacob Marley. The majority though were veteran actors skilled in the craft
While I don’t think this version of A Christmas Carol is the greatest, it is certainly worth watching. The performances are good and Alastair Sim is absolutely brilliant. Curl up this holiday season and give it a watch.