A Christmas Carol has been adapted as a film so many times, it seems almost impossible to count. Everyone has a few of them they like more than the others. Here are three of my favorites:
5. A Christmas Carol (1999)
While imperfect in many ways, and as funny as it is to see he who played Captain Picard in this role, I would say this is the best modern/color adaptation of the story that’s not meant as a parody or pastiche.
4. Blackadder’s Christmas Carol (1988)
This 43 minute BBC Christmas special based on the Blackadder TV series flipped the script on the original story so that our “Scrooge” starts out a good man who is accidentally turned unscrupulous by the visiting spirits.
3. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Okay, I like this film a lot but honestly I think this version had some major flaws. Firstly, Michael Caine was a terrible casting choice for the role of Scrooge, as he was obviously not taking his part seriously. Sure, it’s a comedy. But there is such a thing as completely straight-faced comedy. Also, he didn’t have the voice to be in a musical. Secondly, the mise en scene ignored several key personality traits of the protagonist. Scrooge, in both the book and in older film adaptations, was supposed to be so cheap that he neglected his nutrition, didn’t use the lamps in his house, and wore shabbier clothes than he could afford. Everything is too new and pretty in this film by comparison.
Enough nit-picking. What I like about this version is, of course, the humorous muppet performances – especially Dave Goelz and Steve Whitmire’s performances as Gonzo and Rizzo. Actually, though, all the muppet performances were great. I think this was also the last good muppet movie. That’s just my opinion, however.
2. Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
1. A Christmas Carol (aka Scrooge) (1951)
In newer listings, this version is named A Christmas Carol. But it was originally called Scrooge. This is, by far, universally the favorite film version of the story. It’s my favorite as well. Alastair Sim’s generally Shakespearian acting style, combined with his exaggerative comedic outbursts makes for a thoroughly enjoyable performance. Also, Kathleen Harrison does a wonderful job in the small role of Mrs. Dilber, invented for the film. All around, It’s much more lighthearted and stagey than the Seymour Hicks version – Scrooge (1935). My dad once commented that the perfect version would be the 1935 version with Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge. He felt that the supporting cast of the 1935 version felt more gritty and real, but that Sim was the better Scrooge. Maybe, but I like the 1951 version fine just the way it is. I do think the scene of him in school might have been a little emotionally richer if they’d stuck a little closer to the book version though.