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December 23, 2008

15

On DVD/Blu-ray – Four Films of “A Christmas Carol”

by HELEN GEIB

a-christmas-carol-frontspiece 

What do Alistair Sim, Albert Finney, Bill Murray, and Michael Caine have in common?

If you answered “Ebenezer Scrooge,” then you know your Christmas Carols. Get into the Christmas spirit with one of these great adaptations of the perennial seasonal favorite.

Alistair Sim is the ultimate Scrooge in the classic English version, A Christmas Carol (1951).

Scrooge (1970) is a lovely musical adaptation starring Albert Finney.

Bill Murray’s grasping entertainment executive discovers the ghosts of Christmas are real, if not quite as Charles Dickens described them, in Scrooged (1988).

Michael Caine makes a fine Scrooge in The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), with Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy as Mrs. Cratchit, Statler and Waldorf as the heckling Marley Brothers, and Gonzo the Great as Mr. Dickens.

New releases this week: Burn After Reading, Death Race, Hamlet 2, The House Bunny, Savage Grace, Traitor, The Women


15 Comments Post a comment
  1. Miriam
    Dec 19 2011

    I love Alistair Sim and always watch his Carol each Christmas. Most years I also enjoy Finney and Caine in their versions but I’ve never seen Scrooged. I think I’ll see if Netflix can provide that and expand my Christmas Carol experience.

    It’s a remarkably adaptable and enduring story. A quick look at the IMDB listed several dozen adaptations, movie and TV, from 1908 to Jim Carrey’s attempt in 2009 and of wildly varying lengths. The 1908 apparently managed the story in only 15 minutes!

    The character of Scrooge seems to be one of those that actors long to play and it was fun to browse the list for names. I was reminded of Reginald Owen and of a friend who used to argue vehemently for the superiority of his 1938 film. I don’t remember it though, if I ever saw it, or the version with George C. Scott.

  2. Dec 19 2011

    Similarly I have a friend who swears by the Scott version, which I haven’t seen. We’re both in luck: Netflix has many Christmas Carols, including those two.

  3. Dec 19 2011

    My absolute favourite version of A Christmas Carol is the 1999 version that star Patrick Stewart. It also co-stars Richard E. Grant, Joel Grey, Dominic West, and Laura Fraser (she played Lavinia in Titus). It’s a sad rendering of Scrooge and it makes me cry every time that I watch it; especially the segment with his past.

  4. Dec 20 2011

    That’s another for my list then. I had my annual “Muppet Christmas Carol” viewing last night while trimming the tree, so I’m ready to move on to a new (to me) version.

  5. Richard Winters
    Dec 20 2011

    I agree with Miriam. The Sim’s and Finney’s versions are the best. I too haven’t seen ‘Scrooged’ although it would be fun to see John Forsythe in one of his last roles playing one of the ghosts. Also, ‘Scrooged’ was released in 1988 not 1998.

  6. Dec 20 2011

    ..I have never seen a single Muppet movie… Should I start at all?

  7. Richard Winters
    Dec 20 2011

    No

  8. Dec 20 2011

    I think we all know how I feel about “The Muppet Christmas Carol.” I haven’t liked the other movies. “The Muppet Movie” and “The Muppets” have their fans though.

  9. Dec 21 2011

    Even at the tender age of 30 I might just become a Muppets fan… I’ll experiment with their films within the next year. When someone tells me to not watch them, I know that I have to watch them. It’s kind of like a terrible film that’s so bad you have to see how bad it it.

  10. Richard Winters
    Dec 21 2011

    Okay Nir, have it your way and check it out, but don’t say you weren’t warned!

  11. Dec 21 2011

    Okay, I promise not to say that. lol

    It’s weird. I have absolutely no interest in seeing the new Muppets film (because I dislike the meta phenomenon and most of our current contemporary culture – music, TV, etc) but I really want to see the old Muppets films because they were made before our culture was tainted with mediocrity and awful music.

  12. Richard Winters
    Dec 21 2011

    Well, I’m glad that that you show a disdain for contemprorary culture and you are right. However, the 70’s, which is when ‘The Muppets’ started, has its own share of mediocrity as well. And although I liked the music from that period because it is when I grew up, some other people aren’t so crazy about it, especially the disco period.

  13. Dec 21 2011

    I’ll take disco over R&B and hip hop any day.

    However, I dislike the ’70s quite a lot. There was some good music during that period and some good movies, also but I hate the clothing, the everyday aesthetics, and the hairdos. It’s my least favourite decade of the 20th century but like I said, some of the movies are terrific. Look at Five Easy Pieces, Barry Lyndon, and Solaris. Massive classics.

  14. Richard Winters
    Dec 21 2011

    I love ‘Five Easy Pieces’ and I think Helen should definitely see it. She’ll see Jack Nicholson in a whole new light. I also really liked ‘Solaris’, which was far better then the inferior George Clooney remake. Don’t forget ‘The Conversation’ ‘The Godfather’ ‘The Exorcist’, ‘Dirty Harry’ and ‘The Conversation’. as well as ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. ‘Barry Lyndon’ however was much too slow for my tastes and normally I love Kubrick movies.

  15. Dec 21 2011

    You mentioned The Conversation twice; but then again it’s that great of a film. And I’m not a Godfather fan. The others mentioned are true classics.

    Also, Soderbergh’s Solaris isn’t a remake, just as the Tarkovsky version’s vastly different than the novel. They’re simply different adaptations of the same source material. That being said, Tarkovsky’s Solaris is a masterpiece of filmmaking and storytelling, one that even Kurosawa said made him feel cold and he couldn’t wait for the protagonist to return to Earth. And I like the Soderbergh version, too; I re-watched it a few years back with his and James Cameron’s commentary and it opened my eyes as to why it’s a decent film. Not great but decent.

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