Sunday, January 29, 2017

Vincent Price Narrates A Christmas Carol: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan

TitleThe Christmas Carol
My Rating**

AdaptationNarrated by Vincent Price

Date/Year of Release
Sunday, December 25, 1949

Format:  DVD,
live-action, feature-length, black and white film

Is this adaptation reverent?  Yes, it includes enough of the hymn "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen" to mention Baby Jesus' birth.

Does it include the phrase "God bless us...?"
  Yes, Vincent Price quotes Tiny Tim as saying "God bless us, everyone!"

What does my wife think of it?  She thinks it is one of the worst adaptations of A Christmas Carol.

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles DickensThis adaptation follows the original novel fairly well.  Ebeneezer [sic] receives a visit from his nephew Fred, in his office Christmas Eve.  Fred refers to his wife as "Caroline," although, in the original novel, Caroline is the poor woman who was relieved when her husband informed her that Scrooge was dead.  No portly gentlemen arrive to collect donations.  

After releasing Bob Cratchit, as Scrooge departs from his office, carolers are heard singing "The First Noel," but none of them appear.  Later, when the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge himself as a schoolboy, Scrooge says he regrets not giving a carrolling boy anything that day, presumably referrring to one of the carolers.

There is no sliding on ice, but the Narrator does mention Scrooge having dinner at his "usual, melancholy tavern."

The Ghost of Jacob Marley appears to Scrooge in his private quarters, but does not show him the other ghosts in chains.

Then the Ghost of Christmas Past appears as an old man wrapped in what appear to be bedsheets.  He shows Scrooge himself as a schoolboy, but not the arrival of Fan; nor is she mentioned.  Neither is Mr. Fezziwig mentioned, but the Ghost asks Scrooge if he should show him the time his fiancee broke off their engagement to be married.

The Ghost of Christmas Present looks like a young man in a robe.  He shows Scrooge the Cratchits celebrating Christmas in their home.  Tiny Tim says, "God bless us, everyone!"  Then, after a brief conversation between Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present, thunder claps and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come appears.  No mention of Fred's Christmas party is made.

The Ghost of Christmas Future looks like an old man in black bedsheets.  He shows the Cratchits mourning for Tiny Tim.  Then he shows Scrooge four businessmen talking about his demise.  Finally, he shows Scrooge his tombstone.

Scrooge wakes up in his private quarters on Christmas morning.  He has a conversation with a boy outside his window, but does not send him to fetch anything.  Instead, he goes out on his own.

Fred and Scrooge visit Bob on Christmas Day, bringing them a large bird to cook, and other presents.  Scrooge mentions having met a surgeon at church that day, to whom he promises to take Tiny Tim.

What dialect is used?  Plain English.

When and where does this adaptation take place?  London, circa 1850.

Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel? 

Is this adaptation supernatural? 
Yes, it shows four ghosts.
Is this adaptation "framed"
Yes, this adaptation is framed by the narration of Vincent Price, reading from a copy of the novel.

What original musical numbers and/or dance routines are included"God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen!" and "The First Noel" serve as background music.

How attractive is the visual art?  The wardrobe and set are barely adeuate.  All scenes are indoors. 

How creative and instense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another?
  The transitions are poorly done; they consist of the Ghosts motioning for Scrooge to follow them in dark rooms, and pointing; then the camera cuts to another scene or shot.  Outdoor scenes are noticeably absent.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation?  The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, the narration by Vincent Price.  His headshot is on the cover, and on the DVD itself.  He gets top billing, and rightly so, in my opinion.  I would rather watch him narrate the entire book than the poor footage sprinkled between the scenes of him narrating this adaptation.

What extras are included on the DVD[TBC]

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