The Alastair Sim is my favorite, but I’ll admit that I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the others. The story of Scrooge is one that seems best suited to black and white, England, and the early 1950’s. Other versions don’t seem authentic.
My favorite is easily the Alastair Sim version. The type of black-and-white cinematography they used really captures the eeriness of the story and the bleakness of the setting, and the special effects have held up surprisingly well. Sim occasionally looks like his eyes are going to bug out of their sockets, but other than that, he’s a terrific Scrooge.
I just saw the Patrick Stewart version for the first time the other day, and I quite enjoyed it. Stewart took a slightly different approach to the character. He’s more withdrawn and seething-on-the-inside, rather than the loud, blustery fellow that you see in other versions.
I also admit to being a fan of the Disney version with Scrooge McDuck.
Funny, we’ve been having a household discussion on just this topic and have looked over the options for most of the week. The 1951 Alastair Sim version seems to be the perennial favorite of viewers and critics, with the GCS version a close second.
I am fond of the Muppet version, although I wouldn’t try to compare it to the two more serious classics.
And I assume that, except for fans, the Black Adder Christmas Carol is not even on the list.
The George C. Scott version has inched its way ahead of even the Alastair Sim version in my opinion. Not that the Sim version isn’t good, but I just love all the little tiny mannerisms Scott gives his–the facial expressions and glances. I love the way he even plays the post-redemption scenes a little restrained. And I love the way everyone in it plays their character not as a cliche or cartoon character, but as a human being. (Notice how the best Scrooges play the character not as simply a miser, but as a businessman? And I really like David Warner’s patient, levelheaded Bob Cratchit and Roger Rees’ non-cartoony Fred.)
Another thing I didn’t notice until another commentator pointed it out–we’re used to seeing Scrooge as this geezer with one foot in the grave, but Scott plays him as younger and more vigorous, on top of his game. Which makes the vision of his future death rattle him that much more. I kind of like to see younger Scrooges–it gives us the impression that he’s still got enough years in him to do some good in the world after his transformation.
Sir Patrick Stewart’s 1999 version is quite good, too. Again, Sir Patrick gives Scrooge small touches that make him seem all the more human. For example, when he cries out, “Why show me my grave if I am past all hope?” he follows that up with a “Ha!” pointing at the Spirit as if to say, “Got you on that point!”
For kids, the Mickey version is nice enough, but the Magoo and Muppet versions are the best for introducing younger ones to the story. Albert Finney’s Scrooge has some great songs.
And 2009’s Jim Carrey version is very book-faithful. It has some moments where it falls down, where either the voice actors play it too cartoony (like Colin Firth does for Fred in his first scene) or they insert “Whee! Look what we can do in 3D!” scenes (shrinking Scrooge for the first part of the Christmas Future sequence). But they include TONS of tiny details from the book (the blind man’s dog pulling his master away from Scrooge, Bob sliding down the street with the boys before returning home Christmas Eve, the glimpse of the Lord Mayor’s dinner).
And as for what they do with the demon-children Ignorance and Want…you can separate the great adapatations of this from the merely good by whether they include this scene, and what this version does with it is PHENOMENAL. I won’t spoil, but it sums up Dickens’ point in a few brief images.
George C. Scott for the win. The depiction of Marley’s ghost is fantastic, as is Edward Woodward’s ghost of Christmas past. Scott is delightfully crusty, even if his accent isn’t up to snuff. The only actor I didn’t like in this was the kid who played Tiny Tim, who couldn’t stop himself from looking at the camera on occasion. A minor annoyance.
There are lots of right answers. I love the Sim version. And the Scott version. And the Muppets version. And the Magoo version. Stewart is good, as is Scrooged. It’s well trod ground, but many have succeeded.