Monday, December 4, 2017

27 Versions of A Christmas Carol? Bah Humbug!

Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer in The Man Who Invented Christmas. (Bleecker Street)

 MOVIES AND TV 


For a story that was written in 1843, it’s amazing how popular Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol is. Many versions of the story has been produced from featuring pop culture characters from Mr. Magoo to Barbie and famous actors from Alastair Sim to Jim Carrey. Originally produced as a novella, the book was written during the Victorian era where people were longing for forgotten Christmas traditions and wanting to create new traditions such as incorporating the Christmas tree and using greeting cards.

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 A Christmas Carol that have been produced over the years for the big screen and TV and the different people who have played the cranky one.

(Paul's Animatograh Works)
Title: Scrooge or Marley's Ghost
Year: 1901
Scrooge: Unknown

Possibly the first film adaptation of the story created in the United Kingdom. It is also the shortest clokcing in at only six minutes and 20 seconds in length.




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

This story is only slightly longer than the 1901 version at just ten minutes in length. Like the first, it is largely forgotten.





(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 the film during the Christmas season of 1938. It also featured Gene, Kathleen and June Lockhard.


(Renown Pictures)
Title: Scrooge
Year: 1951
Scrooge: Alastair Sim

Often regarded as the best film version of the story ever, Scrooge was released as A Christmas Carol in the United States. The film also starred Kathleen Harrison, George Cole, Mervyn Johns and Michael Hordern plays Marley's ghost, as well as old Marley. Peter Bull served as the narrator and also appears on-screen as one of the businessmen cynically discussing Scrooge's funeral.


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

Also known as playing Thurston Howell from Tv's Gilligan’s Island, Jim Backus provided the voice of Mr. Magoo. 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.


(Waterbury Films)
Title: Scrooge
Year: 1970
Scrooge: Albert Finney

Albert Finney played one of the youngest "Scrooges" ever at just 34 years of age. Michel Medwin played his nephew even though he was 46-years-old at the time.



(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. Alastair Sims and Michael Hordern from the 1951 movie reprised their roles as Scrooge and Marley.


(CBC)
Title: Rich Little’s Christmas Carol
Year: 1978
Scrooge: Rich Little

Impressionist Rich Little once did a one-man show where he portrayed each character from the Christmas tale as a famous celebrity including W.C. Fields as Scrooge. While Little is a talent impressionist, the special suffered from a bad laugh track.


(Warner Bros.)
Title: Bugs Bunny’s Christmas Carol
Year: 1979
Scrooge: Yosemite Sam
Featured as part of the Bugs Bunny’s Looney Christmas Tales TV special, this story featured Yosemite Sam as the miser, Porky Pig as Bob Cratchit and Bugs as Jacob Marley. Amazingly, the story is told within eight minutes, due to the fact that Scrooge bypasses his journeys to the past, present and future.


(Disney)
Title: Mickey’s Christmas Carol
Year: 1983
Scrooge: Scrooge McDuck

Disney waited until 1983 to create its version of A Christmas Carol. 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.” The other ghosts were played by the giant from Mickey and the Beanstalk and Pegleg Pete.


(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.



(Warner Bros.)
Title: The Jetson’s Christmas Carol
Year: 1985
Scrooge: Mr. Spacely

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



(Paramount Pictues)
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 A Christmas Carol. Though a comedy, it is rather dark and not as funny as it should have been given the cast which included Karen Allen, Carol Kane, Bobcat Goldthwait, John Glover and others.

(Walt Disney Pictures)
Title: The Muppets Christmas Carol
Year: 1992
Scrooge: Michael Caine

This Muppet adaptation is surprisingly accurate to the original source material. Unlike other Muppet films, this story centers around a real human rather than a fellow Muppet. It also a lot less zany than one would expect from a Muppet movie. Caine is excellent too.


(Warner Bros.)
Title: A Flintstones Christmas Carol
Year: 1994
Scrooge: Fred Flintstone

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



(MGM)
Title: 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 (voiced by Ernest Borgnine) 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.


(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 A Christmas Carol on Broadway. Liz Smith reprised her role as Mrs. Dilber from the 1984 movie.


(VH1)
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.



(ABC Family/Freeform)
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.



(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. The film also starred Jane Krakowski, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jason Alexander. This primetime Emmy winning production featured original music by Alan Menken.


(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.



(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.



(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.



(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.



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

Considered to be one of the best and yet underrated versions of the story. It features Jim Carrey playing a variety of roles using motion capture technology. It is faithful to the original tale and has stunning 3D effects.


(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 A Christmas Carol story with Grouchy stepping in for Scrooge.


(Hallmark Entertainment)
Title: It's Christmas, Carol!
Year: 2012
Scrooge: Emmanuelle Vaugier

This adaptation premiered on Hallmark Channel that starred Emmanuelle Vaugier as Carol, a workaholic whose dead boss, Eve (Carrie Fisher), appears to her as three different ghosts. The only other “big name” actor in this film is Carson Kressley.


(Bleecker Street)
Title: The Man Who Invented Christmas
Year: 2017
Scrooge: Christopher Plummer

This unique version of the story centers more on the creation of the story rather than the story itself. It stars Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens and Christopher Plummer who serves as his inspiration for Ebenezer Scrooge.