Wednesday, December 14, 2011

25 Days of Christmas Movies, Day 14: The Best Christmas Carol (or so they say)

Yesterday was a real bear for me.  You guys know that I lost my carefully written blog on The Nutcracker and had to rewrite it quickly and haphazardly.  But you don't know that I was at work late because I had to oversee our talent show auditions from 3-5 (a whole 45 minutes of which I spent waiting for the partners of a particular group who was auditioning, only to find at 5 that they could not make it) and then a choir cantata rehearsal from 6-8:45 (Wayyyyyyyy longer than it should have been) so by the time I got home I was weary and yet not yet ready to go to bed.  In fact, when I finally went to bed an hour later I still wasn't ready to sleep yet and thus spent much of the night tossing and turning.  So this morning I woke up tired and grumpy, not the best way to start the downhill side of the week before break.  But today has been somewhat easy and relaxing, due to showing a film in my English classes and my assumption that even if tonight's round of auditions and rehearsals runs just as long it won't be any worse (especially since we now have only two more days till Christmas Vacation).  I really didn't even want to write this blog today, but since I finished a film I'd been wanting to cover in this blog since the first of the month I figured I should stay on schedule.  Last night I received, from Netflix, one of the best-reviewed and best-loved versions of Dickens' immortal Christmas classic.  I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and I figured that you can never have too many versions of "A Christmas Carol" in 25 Days of Christmas Movies.  So without further ado, let us take in the Alastair Sim version of Scrooge (aka A Christmas Carol in the UK).

(I'll skip the summary for you)

This was a very good film and, unlike many versions of Carol, manages to keep a simple and subtle look and feel to it that keeps it modest.  Alastair Sim makes an excellent Ebeneezer Scrooge and shows a truly nuanced and well-tiered change from unbearable miser into lovable 'born again' Christmas lover.  Also nice are the additional details worked into the flashbacks in the Christmas Past segment where we see much more of Scrooge's rise to power and how it could almost be compared to the backroom dealings of the mafia.  He meets the Devil (metaphorically) in the form of a new business partner named Mr. Jorkin and this is the man who helps shape him into the insufferable grump who we begin the tale with.  We also are treated to a scene of Scrooge watching his sister die in childbirth and making him promise to take care of Fred, his nephew, for her.  Christmas Present is fairly standard, as is Christmas Future...though there are a few additional bits at the beginning which set up Tiny Tim and the remainder of Cratchet's family before Scrooge is introduced to them by Christmas Present.  This film is also notable for being one of the first adaptations to retain the book's original ending where Scrooge had Christmas dinner with his nephew and surprised Bob Cratchet the next day (a first and I think the only time until Zemeciks' version that retained this ending).  Overall, I enjoyed it and could see why it is considered a classic...however I'm not sure if I agree that it is the best one out of all of them.  There are so many good points from all the adaptations that to say this one, with it's low-rent effects and hammy 50s acting from all but Sim, is the best seems more like nostalgia talking than actual aesthetic appreciation.  Still, there are worse films you could find playing on TV at Christmas and this is certainly a wonderful old-school Christmas film that everyone can enjoy.

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