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:
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.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
Okay, 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.
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.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
For just a 26 minute runtime, this Disney cartoon version does a surprisingly good job of telling the story. I haven’t seen it since I was a kid, but I remember liking it pretty well at the time.