Posted by: jeannineatkins | December 11, 2009

A Christmas Carol Marathon in the House

My husband just read Michael Slater’s Charles Dickens biography, and kindly moved it to my piles. Which are tottering. Meanwhile, I watch him read Dickens novels and I’ve joined him watching DVDs of A Christmas Carol. We started with Patrick Stewart as Scrooge, which was wonderful (and my friend Jane says Stewart also does a great audio version of the novella). Some reviewers hold allegiance to the 1951 version with Alastair Sim, but after my daughter called in the middle of our viewing, and then it grew late, I told my husband he could continue without me. Nothing wrong, but the acting didn’t feel quite fresh. The Mr. Magoo version deserves its status as classic. The animation is fairly simple, but while they say “loosely adapted” it takes lines right from the novel, some a bit sophisticated, and doesn’t even cater in some minor details: at the end when Scrooge offers a passing boy gold coins to deliver a fat turkey to the Cratchitt house, the boy shouts: Walka! Victorian slang to express joy.

And oh those songs. “All Alone in the World,” music and lyrics by Jules Styne who was behind Gypsy and other Broadway shows from the fifties.

“A hand for each hand was planned for the world,
Why don’t my fingers reach?
Millions of grains of sand in the world
Why such a lonely beach? …

“Where is a voice to answer mine back?
“Where are two shoes that click to my clack?

Honestly, could loneliness be expressed better? It’s sad, of course, but the language makes me want to kick up my heels. If you want to sing along, here it is on youtube:

Peter and I aren’t rushing out to see the new Disney’s A Christmas Carol, as the preview we saw watching Wild Things made it appear to be heavy on spectacle and zooming ghosts. And as someone who already wears multi-focals, I’m not eager to layer 3-D glasses on top. I like the George C. Scott version, which has, of course, George C. Scott, the best costumes, and perhaps the cutest Tiny Tim, but they pasted in some unnecessary scenes and the spirits seem to me a bit over the top. My husband and I have different tastes in movies, but we both came out liking the Patrick Stewart best for keeping closest to the original writing. Do you have a favorite Scrooge?



  1. You know, I don’t think I’ve seen a feature-length movie since Sweetpea arrived. And I mean even at home — we’re good for maybe 15 minutes of viewing here and there, before we crash for the night. But once we get back to that part of our lives, I can see I’ll have a lot of catching up to do! I will put the Stewart version on my list, and the Mr Magoo, too. (I was raised on Sim, but have a real fondness for the Muppet Carol, too.)

  2. I love the George C. Scott version, need to watch it every year. It’s a classic.
    Thanks for sharing the Mr. Magoo version. I haven’t seen it in ages.

  3. George C. Scott was my favorite but now I’ve switched. But it is worth watching every year! I didn’t think I’d get swept in by Mr. Magoo (when you can watch George C. Scott) but the writing is moving.
    Hope your weekend is going well, Vivian!

  4. Oh, well, in another 16 years or so you can watch a whole movie.
    We loved Cranford, based on Elizabeth Gaskell, and now I want to look for North and South. We’re going through the BBC Bramwell, a woman dr in 1895, which is very well done but not exactly holiday spirit fare. My husband is all — well there’s character and courage and love.. but, um, sometimes I just want a little bit of fairy tale, that you’re not going to find in the hospital Eleanor Bramwell sets up in the London outskirts.

  5. Oh, North and South… now that’s wonderful television! Much character and courage and heartbreak — and some marvelous fairy tale moments as well. (The snowstorm scene alone is heart-stopping…)

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