Season’s Greetings my Movie Geeks!
What can be better than watching A Christmas Carol tucked up on the sofa, in front of a nice warm fire? Nothing much, BUT maybe if that Christmas Carol is a knee-slapping, ear-worm inducing musical! Open up your 7th day Advent Calendar and sit down and watch the Musical Scrooge.
I have my wife to thank for introducing me to this film. I have vague memories of my Granddad watching this, but He was more of an Alastair Simm Scrooge lover. Mine and my wife’s first Christmas Eve, we watched this. (I am not a musical lover, although The Greatest Showman is great… It is!) So I rolled my eyes and cuddled up. Little did I know that this film would become the basis of Christmas present wrapping, to Christmas morning unwrapping to just being played on the build-up to Christmas. It also has a bigger impact because I constantly sing “Thank ya very much, Thank ya very much, that’s the nicest thing that anyone’s ever done for me” my office love (hate) it!
But what’s the story? It’s the same old story we’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of times. That’s a point, (I’ll do an article comparing all Christmas Carols next year Paul). Scrooge, played by Albert Finney is a money grabbing, tight fisted old grump who won’t allow coal to be placed on the fire and gets annoyed when his bookkeeper Bob Cratchett (David Collings) wants the full day off. It is the basic story, Scrooge is haunted by three ghosts on the Night before Christmas in the hope they will make him change. It’s a tried and tested story, but with added song and dance. Scrooge gets a song where he states how and why he hates people!
This is one of the reasons this film works. It’s the usual story, but it has the added frivolity of the music. Even the boring scene (which in every incarnation is the Scrooge’s fiancé scene) is entertaining by the addition of music. It gives the story something new and even though this was made in the 70’s, it is timeless and entertaining. I think you can link this with the Muppet’s Christmas Carol because that two added something more to the standard story, Music and Muppets!
This film is a proper feel-good film. I know that sentence is shocking, but it is. It gives you that warm sense of niceness that is part of Christmas. The story, the music and the actors all work to make this film brilliant. At the top of the list is Alec Guinness playing Jacob Marley. He gives the character a gruff croaky voice, and a campy child-like excitement that I don’t think has been brought to the role previously, or since. Well, maybe Waldorf and Statler!
There’s a certain glee that Alec Guinness brings to the character, even he sings a song. He is even given an extended scene where Scrooge falls through the Grave into Hell. He skips jovially and leads Scrooge to the coldest part of Hell. This scene goes so far to show you what Scrooge will be doing for eternity, and how big his chain actually is.
The ghosts here are extremely well done too. Despite the Ghost of Christmas Past being a woman in a red dress, it’s not too jarring and gives a nice contrast to the Green clothes Ghost of Christmas Present and Death (I’m not beating around the bush, Christmas Future is Death).
The Ghost of Christmas Present is one of the best interpretations of the character. It’s basically Father Christmas (in Green, how he should be). He’s jovial, jolly, and embodies Christmas Spirit. It’s a testament to Dicken’s writing and the subsequent filmmakers that Christmas Present makes you feel how everyone (or at least, most) people do or should feel at Christmas.
“I like Life, Life likes me, I make life a perpetual spree….”
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come or Death is frightening, silent and the most similarly depicted character in all iterations of Scrooge. There are so many questions that arise from this spirit, that I can’t ask them all here. Just know that in this version, the spirit pushes Scrooge into Hell, as this version of Scrooge needs a taster of what will happen if he continues.
In the end, Scrooge sees the error of his ways and decides to show it by spending his wealth on the needy and spread joy throughout Old London Town. He buys gifts, a goose for the Cratchets, and a Father Christmas outfit to dress in. Now this bothers me as the first version of Father Christmas/Santa Claus in the red suit was in 1881! Almost 40 years after when this is set. Buuuuut, I’ll give it a pass as they have a song called Father Christmas and in the 70’s thanks to Coca-Cola, everyone knows Santa as the guy in the red suit! Just a nit-pick!
Finney gives a great performance and won a Golden Globe for it. His make-up and aged acting are surprisingly good. You don’t realise he was only 35 when he filmed this. You would be hard pressed to find a version to top this, although the Muppet’s version does come close. Then you have the serious versions like Patrick Stewart’s and Alastair Simm. But if you want a version that embodies Christmas and gives you that feeling in your stomach that soon Father Christmas will be coming down your chimney, this is the version for you.
I urge everyone to watch Scrooge this year. Watch it, enjoy the songs, get into the seasonal spirit and realise that Obi-Wan Kenobi is playing a Force Ghost, guiding his friend long before Star Wars!
Also, comment below if you found all the Easter Eggs er… Christmas treats!!!