Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Scrooge: A Christmas Carol (1951)

by G. Jack Urso
From the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube channel.
The 1951 film version of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge starring Alastair Sim is a well-regarded classic and a must-see for fans of Charles Dickens’ ghostly tale of terror and redemption, counting myself foremost among that group. Including all the film, TV, animated, radio, stage, and audiobook versions, the number of adaptations is nearly countless. Among my favorites are the 1970 musical version with Albert Finney, the 1971 animated version (also starring Alastair Sim), both of which have been previously uploaded to the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube channel (to view these films, see separate article, Two Christmas Carols). The complete 1951 film is provided above from a supporting Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube channel.

There is little I can add to the many reviews of this film. Younger viewers may tend to pass on it, but the acting is truly impressive. Not only does Sim provide a convincing portrayal of Scrooge from his 20s through old age, but also the transition from penny-pinching miser to generous benefactor. Yet, what fleshes out the film are performances by the supporting players. Patrick MacNee, he of John Steed Avengers fame, appears in a couple short scenes as young Marley, using his Saturnine looks to effectively portray both cunning and shrewdness with just a handful of lines. My favorite scene comes towards the end of the film when Scrooge visits his nephew Fred’s home on Christmas Day. Sim not only silently shows Scrooge’s insecurity and fear of not being accepted, but the young maid (Theresa Derrington) silently shows her awareness of Scrooge’s change of spirit and assures him it's OK, all with the exchange of a few quick, wordless glances.

In all its many incarnations, the lessons of A Christmas Carol remain the same. First, who we are is as much the result of how we are nurtured as children as it is due to the decisions we make as adults. Second, there is little point to wealth unless it is shared with the most needy and vulnerable among us. Rich or poor, we are all in this world together. We are all the Christ-child in the manger — and we are all the Magi.


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