Monday, January 2, 2017

The Ghost & Mrs. Muir: The Ghost of Christmas Past: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan

Title"The Ghost and Mrs. Muir":  
"The Ghost of Christmas Past"

My Rating****

Adaptation:  Starring Charles Nelson Reilly as Claymore Gregg

Date of Release:  Thursday, December 25, 1969

Format:  DVD, live-action, television episode

Is this adaptation reverent? This adaptation is somewhat reverent; it is suitable for general audiences, and includes the hymns, "O Come, All Ye Faithful" and "Silent Night."

Does it include the phrase "God bless us...?"  No.

Does it mention "God" or "Christ"?  Yes, carolers sing "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen!"

What does my wife think of it?  She enjoyed it; in fact, she's the one who recommended it to me!

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?  This adaptation doesn't follow the original version very well.  The story is an episode of the television series "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," starring Hope Lange as Mrs. Muir, and Edward Mulhare as the ghost of Captain Daniel Gregg.

In this episode, Claymore Gregg (Charles Nelson Reilly), is "the Scrooge," refusing to sell Mrs. Muir a Christmas Tree for what she considers a reasonable price.  After she leaves his tree lot without buying a tree, Mr. Claymore discovers an abandoned infant in his car, which he decides to leave with Mrs. Muir.

She goes to bed on Christmas Eve, and dreams about a version of herself with Captain Gregg approximately one hundred years prior (circa 1870).  She plays the role of the previous Claymore's niece and employee - essentially Fred and Bob in one character.  She also ends up with an abandoned infant.

The previous Mr. Claymore goes to bed on Christmas Eve, and is visited by the Voice of the Conscience He Used to Have, instead of any Marley or Ghosts of Christmas.  As a result, he becomes a nicer person on Christmas morning.

Still in Mrs. Muir's dream, she receives a present from Captain Gregg in the form of a metal rattle, from the Bay of Tunis, for the baby she has taken in.

Later, her dream ends with a romantic kiss that Captain Gregg shares with her.

Then Mrs. Muir wakes up and soon discovers that the baby has a metal rattle just like (or perhaps the same rattle) as the one in her dream.  She also discovers that her maid, Martha (Reta Shaw), Claymore, and her own two children, have had similar dreams.  The Ghost of Captain Gregg finally admits that he is the culprit, and that the dreams are his Christmas presents to them.

Claymore has a change of heart, and gives Mrs. Muir a Christmas Tree for free.

Martha also fields a phone call from the local constable, informing her that the mother claimed the baby, whom his brother had mistakenly placed in Claymore's car, and is en route to retrieve him.

The episode ends as Claymore asks the Ghost if the infant in the dreams is his ancestor, and the Captain answers by asking how he could do such a thing to a child, even in a dream.

When and where does this adaptation take place?  New England circa 1970 and 1870.

Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel?  No.

Is this adaptation supernatural?  Yes.  It's about a ghost with magical powers, similar to Jeannie in "I Dream of Jeannie" and Samantha in "Bewitched."

Is this adaptation "framed"?  Yes, this version is framed within a modern Mrs. Muir's dream, with a parallel in her modern reality; both the reality and the dream include a Claymore who is a "Scrooge" who reforms.

How many original musical numbers and/or dance routines are included?  Carolers sing "O Come, All Ye Faithful," "Silent Night," "Deck the Halls," and "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen!"

How attractive is the visual art?  The set and wardrobe are adequate, and typical of the 'Sixties.  Edward Mulhare looks a lot like Vincent Price.

How creative and instense are the transitions?  The transitions are adequate.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation?  For me, the most remarkable thing about this adaptation is that the Ghosts of Marley and Christmas are replaced by the voice of a conscience, which is able to change Claymore's attitude so quickly and easily!

What extras are included on the DVD?  [TBC]

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