Wednesday, December 3, 2014

25 Versions of A Christmas Carol? Bah Humbug!

Patrick Stewart as the angry one.
Photo: RHI Entertainment

For a story that was written way back in 1843, it’s amazing how popular it is. Many versions of the story has been produced from everything from Mr. Magoo to Barbie. A Christmas Carol was originally produced as a novella by Charles Dickens. It is said that the book was written during the Victorian era where people were longing for forgotten Christmas traditions and new traditions, such as the Christmas tree and greeting cards, were being introduced. 

The story is simple one, but many versions have missed the point of the original text. For instance, “Humbug” was actually a term meaning “deceitful efforts to fool people” and “pretending a false sincerity.” In essence, Scrooge already knew that he didn’t care about anyone else but himself but he also believed that this was true of all people. In his eyes, he felt that he was the only one being truthful. So, to say “Bah Humbug” was to mean, “You are a phoney. You don’t really care for others.”

Here is a brief history of some of the most prominent, tasteful, odd and even strangest versions of ACC that have been produced over the years.

Photo: Paul’s Animatograph Works
Title: Scrooge or Marley's Ghost
Year: 1901
Scrooge: Unknown

Possibly the first film adaptation of the story created in the UK. It is only 6 minutes and 20 seconds long in length.

Photo: Worldview Entertainment
Title: A Christmas Carol
Year: 1910
Scrooge: Marc McDermott

While slightly longer than the 1901 version, this silent film still only clocks in at only 10 minutes.

Photo: MGM
Title: A Christmas Carol
Year: 1938
Scrooge: Reginald Owen

MGM released a record-breaking 375 prints of the film so that as many people as possible could see it during the Christmas season. It featured Gene, Kathleen and June Lockhard.

Photo: George Minter Productions
Title: Scrooge
Year: 1951
Scrooge: Alastair Sim

Often regarded as the best film version ever. Mr. Sims and Michael Hordern would reprise their roles as Scrooge and Marley for the animated version in 1971.

Photo: United Productions of America
Title: Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol
Year: 1962
Scrooge: Mr. Magoo (Jim Backus)

The song “People” from the musical, Funny Girl, was originally planned to be used in this  TV special, but the animation had already been completed. It later became the first hit for Barbra Streisand.

Photo: Waterbury Films
Title:1970 Scrooge
Year: 1970
Scrooge: Albert Finney

While Finney was 34 years old at the time, Michel Medwin played his nephew, even though he was 46 year old! 

Photo: Richard Williams Productions
Title: A Christmas Carol
Year: 1971
Scrooge: Alastair Sim (again!)

This animated movie was originally a made-for-TV special, but it was released in theaters and is the only “Carol” to win an Oscar.

Photo: Canadian Broadcasting Co.

Title: Rich Little’s Christmas Carol
Year: 1978
Scrooge: Rich Little

Impressionist, Rich Little, did a one-man show where he portrayed each character as a famous celebrity including W.C. Fields as Scrooge. Unfortunately, the special was accompanied by a bad laugh track.

Photo: Walt Disney Productions
Title: Mickey’s Christmas Carol
Year: 1983
Scrooge: Scrooge McDuck

Disney waited until 1983 to create it’s version of ACC. In this short, Mickey Mouse plays Bob Cratchit, Goofy is Jacob Marley’s Ghost and Donald Duck is Scrooge’s nephew - which he is in “real life.”

Photo: Entertainment Partners, LLC
Title: A Christmas Carol
Year: 1984
Scrooge: George C. Scott

Traditionally, Scrooge is seen mostly in his nightgown, slippers and cap. However, in this version, he wears dress-slacks, a dress-shirt and a vest throughout.

Photo: Warner Bros./Hanna Barbera
Title: The Jetson’s Christmas Carol
Year: 1985
Scrooge: Mr. Spacely

Merely just another episode of the Jetsons TV series where the story is presented in “the future” with Mr. Spacely replacing Scrooge.

Photo: Paramount Pictures
Title: Scrooged
Year: 1988
Scrooge: Bill Murray

This story is given a modern twist with Bill Murray playing Frank Cross, who runs a TV station which is planning a live adaptation of ACC. Though a comedy, it is rather dark and not as funny as it should have been given the cast. 

Photo: Jim Henson Co.
Title:1992 “The Muppets Christmas Carol”
Year: 1992
Scrooge: Michael Caine

This Muppet adaptation is surprisingly accurate to the original story. Every character is played by a Muppet except for the lead which was played by Michael Caine.

Photo: Warner Bros./Hanna Barbera
Title: A Flintstones Christmas Carol
Year: 1994
Scrooge: Fred Flintstone

This adaptation takes place in the town of Bedrock where Fred is playing Scrooge on stage.

Photo: MGM
Title: 1998 An All Dogs Christmas Carol
Year: 1998
Scrooge: Carface

This less-than-faithful adaptation features a couple of dogs trying to save Christmas from Carface and an evil spirit that wants to use dogs all over the world to ruin Christmas forever. It was also the 3rd film in the “All Dogs” franchise.

Photo: RHI Entertainment
Title:A Christmas Carol
Year: 1999
Scrooge: Patrick Stewart

Stewart traded in his Star Trek uniform to don the top hat a cane of Scrooge. The TV movie was produced after a successful theatrical readings of ACC on Broadway.

Photo: VH1 Television
Title: A Diva’s Christmas Carol
Year: 2000
Scrooge: Vanessa Williams

This remake turns the story on its head with Vanessa Williams playing Ebony Scrooge, Kathy Griffin as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Chilli Thomas as Marli Jacob.

Photo: ABC Family
Title: A Carol Christmas
Year: 2003
Scrooge: Tori Spelling

Yet another modernized version with Tori Spelling as a cranky TV talk show host. It also starred William Shatner and Gary Coleman. Quality television for sure.

Photo: Hallmark Entertainment
Title: A Christmas Carol: The Musical
Year: 2004
Scrooge: Kelsey Grammar

Known for yeas as the jovial Dr. Fraiser Craine, Kelsey Grammar steps into the role of Scrooge. This primetime Emmy winner featured original music by Alan Menken.

Photo: Toon City/Warner Bros.
Title: Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas
Year: 2008
Scrooge: Daffy Duck

In this version, Daffy Duck is the greedy proprietor of the Luck Duck Mega Mart and Bugs Bunny is a last minute shopper.

Photo: Sesame Workshop
Title: A Sesame Street Christmas Carol
Year: 2006
Scrooge: Oscar the Grouch (Who else?)

Oscar the Grouch is visited by three ghosts in an attempt to teach him the true meaning of Christmas.

Photo: Mattel Entertainment
Title: Barbie in A Christmas Carol
Year: 2008
Scrooge: Barbie

Now there is proof that Barbie CAN have a bad day. Here, she portrays the role of Eden Starling, a singing star that forces her fellow performers to work on Christmas Day.

Photo: Nickelodeon
Title: Dora’s Christmas Carol Adventure
Year: 2009
Scrooge: Swiper

This version of the story sounds like a nightmare with Dora teaching Swiper a lesson with the help of Santa Claus with “all new” musical numbers.

Photo: Walt Disney Pictures
Title: 2009 Disney’s A Christmas Carol
Year: 2009
Scrooge: Jim Carrey

One of the best versions of the story. It features Jim Carrey in a variety of roles using motion capture technology. It is faithful to the original tale and has stunning 3D effects.

Photo: Sony Pictures Animation
Title: The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol
Year: 2011
Scrooge: Grouchy

Used as marketing ploy to sell DVDs of the movie “The Smurfs,” this short is featured as a bonus. In 20 minutes the blue guys attempt to tell the ACC story with Grouchy stepping in for Scrooge.