A Christmas Carol(s)

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A Christmas Carol(s)

Postby Hobbituk » Sat Dec 11, 2010 12:23 pm

Here's a fun seasonal topic...

What's your favourite version (film or TV) of this classic? What's the worst?

There's so many great ones, lots of sorta average ones and inevitably a bunch of lazy hatchet jobs.


I've actually watched (or rewatched) a few already this December;

1) Jim Carrey's version that came out last year. I was surprised by how faithful to the source material it was. Very little of the dialogue was changed and all the performances and casting good. I especially enjoyed Jim Carrey's stunningly spot on accents. The performance capture was the best I've seen... helped, I think, by not attempting to be photo-realistic and instead more stylised. The only criticism I have is the over-long and superfluous action sequences that they put in to stretch the thing out. But then, given how faithful it was the film would have really struggled to get to 90 minutes otherwise.

2) Mickey's Christmas Carol. Weirdly I'd never seen this before but I was a bit disapointed with it. Aside from the clever 'casting' (particularly Jiminy Cricket, Willy the Giant and Stinky Pete as the Ghosts) there was very little to recommend this. At barely 30 minutes running time the whole thing is squashed terribly. A missed opportunity, I think.

3) Blackadder's Christmas Carol. Always been a favourite of mine, this subverts the story completely as 'Ebenezer Blackadder' begins as a kindly, poor walkover who everyone takes advantage of and is visited by a ghost who show him his much more cunning, but nasty, ancestors (and descendant) who convince him to change his ways. The usual Blackadder regulars (Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Miranda Richardson, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie) plus guests (Miriam Margolyes, Jim Broadbent and especially Robbie Coltrane) make it a very funny treat of a show.

I know I've barely scratched the surface here, so let's hear about some more!
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Postby Hobbituk » Sat Dec 11, 2010 2:59 pm

Ah, I knew I'd forgotten one!

4) Scrooged. The 1988 update with Bill Murray. I actually like this film a lot and usually seek it out in December. However, I feel it gets one thing significantly wrong: The love interest. The Scrooge character having a love interest who he wins in the end sort of misses the point for me. One of the great tragedies of the original story is that Scrooge wastes his chance with the woman he loved. When he finally comes to his senses it's with the knowledge that it's too late for him and his only hope for future happiness is in being good to others in a selfless way. Reforming to Get The Girl is a purely selfish act.
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Postby Telemachos » Sat Dec 11, 2010 6:06 pm

Alastair Sim's version is one of the gold standards, I think. I also remember enjoying the George C. Scott version -- I think it was for Masterpiece Theater.
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Postby Cock-Robin » Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:04 pm

Ah, yes, I really loved the version with Jim Carrey. It was surprisingly good. I've never seen Carrey before in a serious role, and he was superb. I never thought anybody would top the 1951 version with Alastair Sim, but he did, or came awfully close.

1. And of course, the version starring Alastair Sim (1951) was great! He captured the role of Scrooge better than anybody until last year. There were many liberties with the story in this one, but it is still the definitive classic.

There are several more which bear commenting on that were really good:

2. An American Christmas Carol starring Henry Winkler. It recast the story in Concord, NH during the Great Depression, and it is a favorite of mine.

3. A Carol Christmas starring Tori Spelling. It also had Gary Coleman as Christmas Past and William Shatner as Christmas Present. It cast the story in a TV talk show, and the star was one who needed the visitations.

4. Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol was the first I remember seeing, and it always warmed my heart.

5. The Muppet Christmas Carol had Michael Caine as Scrooge, and it was hilarious!

6. A Christmas Carol starring George C. Scott was really good, and Edward Mulhare stole the show as the Ghost of Christmas Present.

7. Ebenezer was cast in a Western theme, starring Jack Palance. It was real charming.

8. "A Little Miracle" was an episode of Quantum Leap, where Sam Beckett leaps into a 200-pound valet whose mission is to save the soul of a nasty corporate raider and teach him the meaning of Christmas.

Two that I thought were the worst were:

1. Scrooge, the musical starring Albert Finney. It just left me cold.

2. A Christmas Carol starring Reginald Owen was simply horrible, it was cast all wrong, and Marley's Ghost merely gave a pathetic moan.
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Postby portia » Tue Dec 14, 2010 8:28 am

Alastair Sim, for me, though I haven't seem many others of the "faithful" versions. I did see "Scrooged" and thought it was OK.
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Postby hamlet » Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:45 am

I like them all to varying degrees and for varying reasons.

While it's not the best, my personal favorite will remain Patrick Stewart's version that came out a few years ago which, for the most part, managed to keep the horrific narm in check.

Love George C. Scott, of course.

Haven't seen Jim Carey's version yet. Just can't forgive him for what he did to Grinch.

Been wanting to see the Mickey Mouse version for years again.
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Postby Morwenna » Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:38 am

I'm rather bummed that the Sim version hasn't been shown on TV in several years now; it used to be an annual classic. Time was, the Owen version was on Once per viewing area, take it or leave it, and the Sim was all over the place. Now it's the Owen that's all over the place, and I agree it's the least satisfactory of all the ones I've seen.

Love the Sim and the Carrey! Also like the Scott. The Stewart was OK. I LOOVE the Magoo! just because. (Many years ago, when rocks were soft and rainbows were black & white, I chased the Magoo version over about 20 channels in 2 viewing areas gathering all the lyrics to "We're Despicable"!) And the Muppet version is brilliant, as only a Muppet movie can be. The Mickey is cute, but I certainly don't feel compelled to watch it every year. Same with the Finney musical. (Still, I never get tired of Alan Young voicing Scrooge McDuck!)

There were several "straight" animated versions over the years, though, which haven't been played in forever, and I wish they'd show up again!
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Postby Hamfast Gamgee » Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:13 pm

I have seen a few versions of a Christmas Carol on both stage and in the movies. I saw the Jim Carrey movie last year which was fine though I did think the final ghost scene went on a bit, I think it was just to use the 3d effects! I think there is a local amataur production to see next week.
The only thing is though, with one of my own rather left(ish) political views, probably rather similair to that of Charles Dickens himself, I do sometimes feel that it doesn't work. Changing one rich man from a miser to a more generous soul does not get rid of poverty and want in the world! Every time I see this I always get a nice warm feeling inside me, but then with about 3 seconds of watching the news or looking at the real world, I get a bit fed up with the world again!
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Postby Morwenna » Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:20 pm

I know, it's rough. But Dickens himself believed that it was useless to try to cure the ills of the world through legislation, and he outright feared the mob. He believed that the only salvation would be for massive numbers of people to have this change of heart that he proposed, but such a thing must of necessity be accomplished one reader at a time.

One version I love, but had forgotten because it's been so many years since it's been shown, is "A Christmas Carol at Ford's Theatre" which used to be shown on public TV back in the '70s. It's a filmed stage play, and it's delightful. And yes, it's that Ford's Theatre, in Washington DC.
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Postby Martin the Warrior » Tue Dec 14, 2010 4:37 pm

My top fav movie versions of A Christmas Carol:
1. Alistar Sims! It's a movie that I'm willing to watch whether it's the season or not.

2. Got to definitely go with The Muppet's version on this one, it's scary enough that when I was little I almost always had to fast forward the Ghost of Christmas Past.

3. Jim Carrey, it was great, in the respects that you could really see how the actor would actually play the role, although it was a little too scary. Let me put it this way, my younger cousins went to see it in 3D and when they started to cry they actually left before seeing the movie.

4. The Flinstone's A Christmas Carol, it was different because it was about Fred learning the lesson of Scrooge, while acting the part in a play. Not them suddenly being transposed into various people in the story.

5. Would have to be The Stingest Man, which was the story through the eyes of a bug, I know sounds weird but it's one of my favorites.
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Postby Cock-Robin » Thu Dec 16, 2010 5:01 am

Another one, The All Dogs Christmas Carol is cute, but nothing to write home about.

One that airs on TV that's pretty good is Ms. Scrooge, starring Cecily Tyson.
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Postby rwhen » Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:25 am

I have to also go with Alistar Sims as the first pick and it was on last weekend for me.

I also really like the one with George C. Scott.

I haven't seen the Jim Carrey version. Is it animated or the real actor? If it is not animated, I would like to see it.
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Postby Hobbituk » Fri Dec 17, 2010 2:30 pm

It is animated rwhen. It's directed by Robert Zemeckis so it has a similar style to his other films 'Polar Express' and 'Beowulf', but much better I think. It's worth a watch.

The Alistair Sim version is the one I grew up watching and remember the best. It is a really good film, if not the most faithful adaptation.

A British comedian called Mitch Benn has recorded himself reading the story (unabridged) and posted it online. I'm only part way through but it really is very good. He brings out the humour in Dickens and you appreciate the author's turns of phrase and digressions, which usually get lost in the visual adaptations. Anyway, it's Here
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Postby GlassHouse » Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:11 pm

Cock-Robin wrote:...

2. An American Christmas Carol starring Henry Winkler. It recast the story in Concord, NH during the Great Depression, and it is a favorite of mine.

...



I have to comment here, being originally from Concord, NH I thought this version was hilarious. Aside from the fact that stoic New Englanders rarely break into spontaneous song and dance while walking down the streets, the way the actors pronounced "Concord" with very round sounding ("woody" as Monty python would say) vowels, was too much for the locals. Of course it's exactly how you *would* pronounce it if you just read the word and didn't know any better.....Con-cord....but around here, it sounds more flat, like con-cud or even at times, cahn-cud.
Still funny after all these years.
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Postby sirnotincludedinthisstory » Sun Dec 26, 2010 1:42 pm

...and if one counts the stage, there is of course Patrick Stewart's one man version :)

[after an ABC iView watch]

also the Dr Who 2010 Christmas special.
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Postby Wildwood » Tue Dec 28, 2010 6:19 am

For years, teh Alistair Sim version was my favorite. Then the George C Scott version inched in there, to stand right beside it. There are elements of one that I thought were better done than in the other, and I have often thought that - if they could be squashed together, it would be great!

Then the Patrick Steward version came out and I was newly in love with the story, which is actually my favorite Christmas story! :D:D:D:D:D: I love a good redemption tale! :D:D:D:D Now I had 3 standing, neck and neck, and still needing a good squashing together!

and then - the Jim Carrey film came out, and I now have 4 to manage! :D:D:D:D:D I have watched them all, many times, over this past Christmas season. I cannot pick out a favorite Scrooge from among them. They are all wonderful. Favorite ghost of Christmas Past....I like the the one from the George C Scott version, but I like the lengthened story telling of the Sims version. Wish I could have them together.

Favorite ghost of Christmas Present is from the George C Scott version. But I love the expanded dialogue that they gave the excellent runner up in the Patrick Steward version!!! "Oh to hear the insect on the leaf pronounce there is too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust..... man, if you be a man...forebear that wicked cant". LOVE IT!!!!

Best Bob Crachet adn Ms Cratchet goes to the Patrick Stewart version, just because of the authenticity and sincerity that they were able to capture. When Patrick Stewart tries to wish his Bob a Merry Christmas, and he goes for the poker, its just perfect. And the slow dawning - that his life is about to change - just wondrous to me. And the grieving over poor Tim....heartbreaking! And Mrs. Cratchet's tirade against Mr Scrooge is perfect "merry as a graveyard on a wet sunday"! :D:D:D:D:D:D:D

For length - I like the Sims verwsion best, even if they did put in a bunch! I liked seeing his decline unfold, bit by bit. Also agree that his losses should remain his losses. He can't get those opportunities back anymore than Jacob can be redeemed simply by helping Ebneezer avoid his fate!!! but he can be better in the future....

For best redemption....so hard to choose! They all do such a good job of revealing the vulnerability. I think Sim was given more time to unfold the event...more time to exhibit all the stages of it. But I do love George C Scott admitting he was once in love to Fred's wife. And I also love Patrick Steward calling a cab and then going to church, to sing a carol.

It's too hard to choose. I have to have them all.....every year, starting thanksgiving day, they get watched over and over again. Nothing puts me in the christmas mood faster than a Scrooge movie! :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

(ps: saw the Henry Winkler one, once, and liked it too. Had forgot about it. Need to get that one.....for next year!) :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D
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Postby Hobbituk » Tue Dec 28, 2010 9:37 am

Ah, that's a fun way of doing it!

Best Scrooge: Alistair Sim

Best Bob: Kermit the Frog

Best Ghost of Christmas Past: the Taxi driver in Scrooged

Best Ghost of Christmas Present: Jim Carrey's. Purely for the accent "Come in and know me better man!"

Best Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come: Hard to choose, given they all tend to be very similar. But the twist in the Doctor Who version this Christmas, wins on cleverness alone.
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Postby Wildwood » Mon Jan 10, 2011 10:03 am

Hobbi - I love that pic! :D:D:D:D:D:D:D

Also - lest the typos make you think I have no brain at all - I am aware that it is Patrick Stewart and NOT Steward. Jeez. :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

We can discuss again come next Christmas, yeah?
:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D
Maybe arrange a view-a-thon or something? :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

The season just passes too quickly.....I need more Christmas in my life!
:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D
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Postby Hobbituk » Thu Dec 01, 2011 2:47 am

Cheeky bump as it's December ;)


Anyone seen any other versions?
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Postby Cock-Robin » Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:05 am

There are a few I could add. One cute variation is called Bah! Humduck! starring Daffy Duck as Scrooge, and has a delightful variation of cartoon characters in the different roles.

Another that I remember is Rich Little's Christmas Carol starring impressionist Rich Little. He did several different characters as the main characters, including:

Scrooge: W.C. Fields

Bob Crachit: Paul Lynde

Mrs. Cratchit: Edith Bunker

Tiny Tim: Truman Capote

Nephew Fred: Johnny Carson

Marley's Ghost: Richard Nixon (He wore spools of tapes instead of chains)

Christmas Past: Humphrey Bogart

Fezziwig: Groucho Marx

Christmas Present: Columbo

Christmas Future: Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers)

It was totally hilarious!
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Postby portia » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:45 pm

I saw Patrick Stewart do it on stage as a one-man show. It was very impressive.
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Postby oldtoby » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:56 pm

None of them

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" is the only Christmas show worth watching.
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Postby Hobbituk » Thu Dec 08, 2011 7:57 am

oldtoby wrote:None of them

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" is the only Christmas show worth watching.


Bah, humbug!
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Postby Morwenna » Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:03 am

The Sim version was on this year! :yippie: First time that Turner ever ran it! What took them so long?? :D Not all that faithful to the original, but a brilliant movie.

There was another musical on this year and I thought it was interesting. I saw the Scott again, and somehow I didn't like it as much as I did before... I think it's time to see the Stewart again. Somewhere we have the cassette version of him reading the story and it's brilliant. Mickey's was on this year too but I decided to give it a miss.

I want to see the Carrey again, and the Muppets, and Magoo!! Where are they??? :?

I never came across the Rich Little, but after that description I Want To!!! :D:D:D
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Postby Cock-Robin » Sat Dec 17, 2011 10:15 pm

I just got a Doctor Who version of Christmas Carol, (it was their 2010 Christmas special), and am interested in watching it to see if it's any good.
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Postby Hobbituk » Sun Dec 18, 2011 1:45 am

Cock-Robin wrote:I just got a Doctor Who version of Christmas Carol, (it was their 2010 Christmas special), and am interested in watching it to see if it's any good.


It's fantastic
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Postby GwenElf » Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:13 am

Hobbituk wrote:
Cock-Robin wrote:I just got a Doctor Who version of Christmas Carol, (it was their 2010 Christmas special), and am interested in watching it to see if it's any good.


It's fantastic


Seconded. I may force my family to watch it this year, even though none of them is a Whovian.

I had no idea there were so many versions of A Christmas Carol out there! I mean, I should have expected it, but being a huge fan of the Muppet Christmas Carol, I have never felt the need to branch out. Thanks to this thread I have an excellent list of options.
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Postby Hobbituk » Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:36 am

I watched the Sim version again this afternoon. I think what makes it a cut above other versions is that somehow it manages to pack an emotional punch all the way through, rather than just the end.

I don't mind admitting, I got a bit teary!
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Postby Morwenna » Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:09 am

Muppets was indeed on this year, and I got to see it again! It's a delight, and Caine does a really good job. I wonder how he liked acting around all those Muppets? :D

Hubby said Stewart was going to be on too; I hope we haven't missed it! And the Finney musical was on last week too, though by the time hubby noticed and got my attention, it was after 11 PM and I dearly wanted to go to bed...

So it really looks as though they're trying to get as many versions as possible on the air this year!! (So where's Magoo...?)
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Postby Hobbituk » Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:39 am

The beauty of the Muppets version is how straight Michael Caine plays it and how seriously they take the source material.

This morning I watched an utterly dreadful version. It was from 2001 and animated, with live action segments book ending it.

It shouldn't have been dreadful. The animation was quite nice and the cast was splendid... Simon Callow (as both Charles Dickens and Scrooge), Kate Winslet, Michael Gambon, Jane Horrocks, Rhys Ifans...and...er... Nicholas Cage.

What they got wrong was the story. They just completely and spectacularly missed the point. Three reasons...

- Scrooge having a friendly mouse who he cheerfully feeds cheese to at the BEGINNING of the story is both silly and out of character. For the story to work, Scrooge has to start as a monster and end as a saint.

- If you are doing an adaptation of A Christmas Carol set in the same period and with the same characters, why on earth would you strip away Dickens' beautiful dialogue and replace it with your own bland and uninteresting stuff? Dickens used the English Language like no-one else, attempting to do your own thing just invites unflattering comparison.

- 'A Christmas Carol' is NOT a love story. It has a love story IN it, but it's one that has to end in tragedy... letting Scrooge have a second chance cheapens his transformation.

Sorry for that rant, but it did annoy me!
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