Sorry – I grew up on this one, and I love it. I think it’s surprisingly good, and much better than most. It’s certainly better than the normal run of Christmas specials (This is the very first made-for-TV animated Christmas Special, even including the Disney Christmas episodes, which were comilations).
For my money, the best versions were the 1951 Alistair Sim version, George C. Scott’s Tv version, and Magoo’s. I’d dearly like to see the animated version using the original illustrations, because (among other reasons) Chuck Jones was producer (although not director or animator), and I suspect I’d like that version, too.
I also kinda like the Muppet version, which is severely whacked – “The Marley Brothers, Jacob and Bob”.
Scrooge McDuck was born to play that part! Kickass!
It just occurred to me that there’s a fatal flaw in Scrooged (besides the weak ending). Dickens’ character of Scrooge is a miser who treats himself as badly as he does others; he lives on cold gruel in a musty, cold house and does nothing to enjoy the money he accumulates. He’s shut himself off emotionally; what the spirits really accomplish is to reconnect him to the human race. Bill Murray’s character in Scrooged enjoys his wealth and power; he’s just an asshole.
Having slogged my way through Hard Times and Dickens’ other “Christmas books”, I have to seriously disagree. “CHristmas Carol” is eminently readable, and had a real point that was timely and important and is still relevant, no matter how diluted it my have become through repetition.
Have you ever read the book, as opposed to seeing an adaptation of it on screen or stage? If not, do so. Even the best of the adaptations is a pale image of the Real Thing. Dickens has a great power of image an humorous writing.
A Christmas Carol is one of the few classics that was admitted by the author to be written solely and expressly and for no other purpose than to make some fast money. Dickens was broke and supporting an army (his own wife and growing family, his parents, a couple of siblings, some of his wife’s relatives, etc.) and needed fast turnover cash. This is not to say it isn’t good, but it was intended to be light and breezy and commercial (and was).
I forgot the Jack Palance version- that was pretty bad. Set in the Old West it features a Scrooge who does something too evil to be forgiven by becoming Uncle Niceguy at the end-
Ghost of Christmas Past shows how Scrooge cheated at cards in a barroom poker game and when a fight broke out he shot the man dead
To me, that just was a bit too OTT to warrant forgiveness.
I love the Simpsons take on A CHRISTMAS CAROL in a non Christmas episode. Lisa is shown her future (in which she marries Special Guest Voice Hugh Grant) and it doesn’t work out, and she asks “Are these the shades of things to come or just the shades of that which might be?” The fortune teller responds “It is what will be. Absolutely. No way of avoiding it. But act surprised.”
Of course my favorite of the past some years would be BlackAdder’s Christmas Carol, especially Baldrick’s tale of why the Christmas pageant at the poorhouse didn’t work out.
This is seriously at odds with the description of the publication history as given in The Annotated Christmas Carol, which notes that, far from trying to get out a quick commercial verrsion so as to get lotsa profits fast, Dickens actually spranf extra for time-consuming and expensive colored printing. Dickens was circumspect about having it come out exactly as he wanted. I’ve never heard that he admitted this was a book written “solely and expressly and for no other purpose than to make some fast money”, and I’d be interested in a cite, or direction to where you heard this.
I’ve googled up a few places claiming that Dickens wrote it for a fast buck, but they all tossed it off as off-the-cuff comments, and don’t seem to be as informed as this site or The Annotated Christmas Carol are.
Yes, of course I’ve read the book, or I wouldn’t have commented on it. But to be fair, I haven’t read all of Dickens’ other novels; also, perhaps I’ve become unfairly soured on A Christmas Carol precisely because it’s been adapted so many times, and I’ve come to expect a crappy new made-for-tv variation every year.
It was an opinion I found in an unreliable source (Paul Harvey) but was backed up by a 2 volume biography of Dickens I read some while ago that discussed his financial hardships as a successful young writer (he was irritated that his work was selling well but he was virtually penniless due to being sole support for so many people). Dickens probably had what we today would call OCD (have you ever read about his sleeping rituals or requirements for housekeepers?) which may also explain why he was so persnickety about the publishing, along with the fact he was paying a part of the publishing cost himself and thus wanted it as attractively presented as possible.
Christmas Carol was so successful that he tried emulating its success with more Christmas novellas (The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life, The Haunted Man), one each year for the early 1840s, but none sold as well.
I don’t dispute Dickens’ talent or dedication as an artist, but it’s a very clearly documented fact that he had a more than healthy interest in the marketability of his works. Having famously grown up poor and always feeling the wolves nipping at his heals to drag him back to the warehouse, he had no interest whatever in the romantic attic room bohemian lifestyle (in fact some believe he died so young because of the number of very dramatic readings he pushed himself to do, in large part because he earned more for readings than for the books themselves).
When he was rich and middle aged and more secure in his finances and his success (and started hanging around a much younger theater crowd met via the much younger Ellen) he became a tad more avante gard, but by then he didn’t have to have a major bestseller to support himself.
The Alistair Sim version – in the original b&w – is the best and classic.
Some of the others are passable, some are horrible, as others have mentioned. I have never seen the Mr. Magoo because I *hate * all the Magoo cartoons for making fun of the impaired.
Christmas Carol is also one of the few Dickens works I can tolerate. I get very tired of his one-dimensional cardboard characters. In CC for some reason it doesn’t matter as much.
I seem to recall an article within the last few years, BTW, that pointed out that Cratchit was not all that badly off. For example, his wife was able to be a stay-at-home-mom, which if they were really hurting for money would have been impossible. All of his brood of children were alive and healthy except for Tim, which was very unusual in that place and time.
I second that!
Ah, hurrah! Welcome, lads! Oh, this is the stuff, eh? Christmas sherry and charades with honest manly fellows. I mean, for Heaven’s sake, what can I do with a girl that I can’t do with you, eh?
But what in that two-volume bio validates that he wrote Christmas carol only for money?
Nothing i’ve read supports that. Certainly he was always on the lookout for getting maximum profit from his works, and didn’t want to live like a Grub Street poet his whole life, but that’s a far cry from “writing solely for money”. You could argue that Dickens made the book as expensive looking as possible in order to draw in more people and maxcimize his profits (and failing miserably, if that was his intent – see the link from the link I posted), but it seems far more likely that Dickens was like the circa 1940 Walt Disney who made a movie as uncommercial and financially disastrous as Fantasia (which didn’t make back its cost until the 1970’s) as Joe Adamson noted, he wasn’t a quick-buck artist, but the bane of his business. Everyone expected him to go under from his outrageous projects. But Walt did what he liked, and so, apparently did a lot of other folks, who went to see his stuff. But he put out what he wanted to, and Dickens did the same.
The lengthy intro to The Annotated CC makes clear that Dickens certainly did have social reform on his mind, and the issues of Chiold Labor and Poorhouses were very live ones in his day (and well after, as well). They weren’t window dressing for a story of holiday schmaltz, but the very heart of the story and its point.
Christmas Carol remained a best-seller for the rest of his life, and a regular part of his reading engagements, but why not?
Christmas Carol remains popular today both because of its own merits and because of the incessant stream of new versions. I find it ironic that the original message (Don’t be inward-turning and miserly, even though money will abate your problems, because there’s more to life than that and we need to help each other) has been effectively perverted by this corporate stewardship (Get out and celebrate Christmas, because we want you to buy our products). But that’s not Dickens’ fault.
It isn’t even a real thing but I think a version of A Christmas Carol by the creators and actors of The Matrix would be the worst.
One thing ACC does not need is a protracted car chase/kung fu sequence.