Monday, February 27, 2017

Henry Winkler in An American Christmas Carol: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan

TitleAn American Christmas Carol
 
My Rating****

Adaptation:  Starring Henry Winkler as "the Scrooge," Benedict Slade

Year Released1979

Format:  DVD,
live-action, film

Is this adaptation reverentYes, this adaptation is reverent.  It includes the hymn "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen."


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

What does my wife think of it
She doesn't like it.  She thinks Henry Winkler looks like Dr. Phibes, which gives her the creeps.

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?  This adaptation recreates the general story line of the novel, with different characters (
Benedict Slade, instead of Ebenezer Scrooge, for example). 

He has an employee, named Mr. Thatcher, whom he fires.  Mr. Thatcher has a son who uses crutches and has a disease.

After Mr. Slade fires Mr. Thatcher, the ghost of his partner, Jack Latham, appears to him, and tells him that he will receive visitations from three other ghosts.

The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future appear in the guises of the three men whose belongings Mr. Slade repossesses. 

After seeing the visions they show him, Mr. Slade rehires Mr. Thatcher, and promotes him.  He also gives his son tickets to visit a doctor whom he believes will heal him.

Then he takes Mr. Thatcher around to give back property they'd repossessed.   

What dialect is used?  Plain English.

When and where does this adaptation take place?  This adaptation takes place in Concord, in Merrimack County, New Hampshire, during the Twentieth Century, spanning the Presidencies of Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt.


Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel?  No.

Is this adaptation supernatural? 
Yes, this adaptation is supernatural, featuring ghosts and time travel.
 
Is this adaptation "framed"
No.

What original musical numbers and/or dance routines are included[TBC]

 
How attractive is the visual art?  The set, wardrobe, architecture, and art are good.

How creative and instense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another?
  The transitions are fair, involving mostly cameras cutting to the next scenes.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptationThe most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, seeing Henry Winkler 1) in a role other than "the Fonz" on "Happy Days," and 2) old, which doesn't work for me, after all the hours I spent watching "Happy Days."  Henry Winkler will always be "the Fonz" to me.


What extras are included on the DVD[TBC]

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Rich Little's Christmas Carol: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan

TitleRich Little's Christmas Carol
 
My Rating***

Adaptation:  Starring Rich Little as W.C. Fields, as Ebenezer Scrooge

Year Released1978

Format:  DVD,
live-action, film

Is this adaptation reverentYes, this adaptation is reverent.  It shows Scrooge sincerely repenting and even giving up alcohol.  However, I cannot in good faith recommend it to general audiences, because it includes implied sex scenes in which Rich Little, as Groucho Marx, as Mr. Fezziwig, demands sex from (and apparently has it with) his female employees.


Does it include the phrase, "God bless us..."Yes, when Rich Little, as Jean Stapleton, as Edith Bunker, as Mrs. Cratchit asks someone to say "grace," Rich Little, as Truman Capote, as Tiny Tim says, "God bless us, everyone!"

What does my wife think of it
She thinks it's one of the most uniquely entertaining adaptations of A Christmas Carol that she's ever seen.

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?  This adaptation follows the original novel
somewhat, with numerous, interesting twists, the bulk of which involve Rich Little playing famous people (historical and fictitious) playing the main roles.

To start with, Rich Little plays W.C. Fields, as Ebenezer Scrooge, who is in "the boat and bottle business," with Bob Cratchit, played by Rich Little playing Paul Lynde.

Jacob Marley is played by Rich Little as Richard Nixon, with reel-to-reel tape all over him, instead of chains.

Tiny Tim is played by Rich Little as Truman Capote, as an adult midget version of Tiny Tim who is not lame, but merely wishes to become a novelist.

Belle never appears, nor is she ever mentioned.

All of the Ghosts of Christmas are famous, fictitious detectives in trench coats:  Columbo (Peter Falk), Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart), Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers), as the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, respectively.

What dialect is used?  Plain English.

When and where does this adaptation take place?  This adaptation is a comedic fantasy, in which time and place are less relevant than the jokes and impersonations.  Although the set and wardrobe usually tends to portray Victorian England, Richard Nixon and reel-to-reel tape appear as Jacob Marley and his chains, making jokes about Watergate, even though these are all Twentieth Century phenomenons.


Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel?  No.

Is this adaptation supernatural? 
Yes, this adaptation is supernatural, featuring ghosts and time travel.
 
Is this adaptation "framed"
Yes, by a narrator.

What original musical numbers and/or dance routines are included
This adaptation includes several unique songs:  "The Merriest Christmas Yet," "Typical Office Party," and
"It's Better to Give Than Receive (No One's Ever Going to Get a Cent From Me)." 

How attractive is the visual art?  The set, wardrobe, architecture, and art are good.

How creative and instense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another?
  The transitions are fair, involving mostly cameras cutting to the next scenes.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptationThe most remarkable thing about this adaptation is Rich Little's ability to impersonate so many celebrities playing various roles in A Christmas Carol.


What extras are included on the DVDThis DVD contains an audio commentary track by Rich Little and the Director, Trevor Evans.  It also contains a similar film, Robin Hood, with an audio commentary track.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Carry On Christmas: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan

TitleCarry On Christmas
My Rating*

AdaptationStarring Sid James as Ebenezer Scrooge
 
Date ReleasedWednesday, December 24, 1969


Format:  DVD,
live-action, film

Is this adaptation reverentNo, this adaptation is not reverent; it's bawdy, and seems to mock Christians.  For example, Scrooge throws the contents of his chamber pot on a nun and her Christmas carolers.  Also, Bob Cratchit prays a humorous, irreverent prayer, and disapproves of the humorous answer he receives.


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

What does my wife think of it
She hates it.

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?  This adaptation does not follow the original novel
very well.

For one, thing, there is no Jacob Marley.  Instead, the Ghost of Christmas Past shows up with several balls and a chain.  He shows Scrooge a vision of Dr. Frank N. Stein, to whom he refused to lend money to finish his monster.  Count Dracula serves as his assistant, instead of Igor, and he takes some of Dr. Jekyll's forumula.

The Ghost of Christmas Present is a petite blonde lady, with whom Scrooge attempts to have sex.  She shows him a vision of a poet named Robert (Bolling?) who dies trying to elope with his girl friend.

The Ghost of Christmas to Come shows Scrooge another vision - of Cinderella.

Scrooge wakes up and decides to mend his ways, so he takes a chamber pot full of his money outside, and offers it to a woman, who has a Bobby arrest him for soliciting her.

What dialect is used?  Plain English.

When and where does this adaptation take place?  London, during Queen Victoria's reign.


Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel?  No.

Is this adaptation supernatural? 
Yes, this adaptation is supernatural, featuring three ghosts and time travel.
 
Is this adaptation "framed"
No.

What original musical numbers and/or dance routines are includedThere are two Christmas carols:  "The First Noel" and "Good King Wenceslas."  Scrooge blows up the first group of carolers, with a bomb, leaving only their shoes with smoke pouring out of them.  The second group is a nun with four schoolgirls (played by elderly men), on whom he throws the contents of his chamber pot.

How attractive is the visual art?  The set, wardrobe, architecture, and art are good, including signs in excellent calligraphy.  There are three main sets:  the streets outside Scrooge's office and quarters, Scrooge's office, and his private chamber upstairs.  There are also three sets for the visions:  Dr. Frank N. Stein's laboratory, the bedroom of Robert's girl friend, and Cinderella's kitchen.

How creative and instense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another?
  The transitions are fair, involving mostly cameras cutting to the next scenes.  For the bombing scene, an explosion is heard; smoke rises from the bottom edge of the screen until it covers the screen; when the smoke clears, the camera zooms in on the smoking shoes.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation?  The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, the absence of reverance.  Also notable, is the number of feminine costumes worn by elderly men.  This adaptation also has one of the Ghosts of Christmas in chains as if he were Marley, but this is not unique; the Sesame Street adaptation shows something very similar.


What extras are included on the DVDThree other Carry On Christmas shows are included on the DVD.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

Fredric March in A Christmas Carol: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan

TitleA Christmas Carol
My Rating**

AdaptationStarring Fredric March as Ebenezer Scrooge
 
Date ReleasedThursday, December 23, 1954


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

Is this adaptation reverentYes, this adaptation is reverent


Does it include the phrase, "God bless us..."?  Yes, Tiny Tim  says, "God bless us, everyone!"

What does my wife think of it
She finds it "annoying," especially Ray Middleton's singing.

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?  This adaptation follows the original novel
fairly well, with some deletions, and odd changes.

The opening scene and credits feature a group of carolers, including two men, two women, a man playing a flute, and a child soloist, singing a song "on this darkest day of winter," about "holly, pine, and mistletoe," along streets with horse-drawn carriages.

Then Scrooge's office is shown, as two gentlemen enter to ask him for a charitable donation.

After Scrooge shows them the door, he tells Bob to clean up before leaving, in about five minutes.

Then Fred (Ray Middleton)  shows up.  Scrooge sends both Fred and Bob away.

Then Scrooge locks up his office and takes his strong box home, where his housekeeper has prepared his supper and his bed.  He cuts her short when she wishes him a merry Christmas as she leaves.

Jacob Marley appears to him, and tells him other spirits will visit him.

The first Spirit, of Christmas Past, looks like Belle to Scrooge, and is played by the same actress:  Sally Fraser.


She shows him singing a duet with Belle at Mr. Fezziwig's Christmas Ball.  Later, she is seen leaving him, because she has changed so much.

Then Ray Middleton appears in the form of a muscular, young Ghost of Christmas Present, looking more like an elf.  Scrooge mistakes him for Fred.  Fred sings to him, and shows him a vision of the Cratchits, in their home on Christmas Eve.

Then Scrooge finds himself alone with a crow in a cemetery, where he discovers his tombstone, with his name and the year 1843 inscribed on it; he also finds Tiny Tim's.

As he wails and cries, and pats Tim's tombstone, he wakes up patting his own headboard on Christmas Morning.

He opens his window and takes in the fresh air and sunlight, and asks a boy what day it is.

The boy informs him that it's Christmas.

Instead of sending the boy to the poulterer's, Scrooge gets cleaned up and dressed, and invites himself to Bob's for Christmas dinner.

On the way, Scrooge happens to cross paths with the gentlemen seeking charitable donations, so he apologizes for the horrible things he told them the day before, and gives them some money, in an amount which astonishes them.

At Bob's, Scrooge promises to raise Bob's salary, and help get Tiny Tim the medical care he needs.

The story ends with Tiny Tim saying, "God bless us, everyone!"

For some odd reason, only five of Bob's children are seen; the middle boy is missing, and, when he introduces them to Scrooge, it appears that Belinda is the eldest daughter, and Martha perhaps the youngest.  The other daughter is named Susie - information not found in the novel.

Fred's party is never shown, and there is never any indication that Scrooge decides to visit Fred.

The entire day after Christmas is precluded by Scrooge's visit to Bob's house on Christmas Day.

What dialect is used?  Plain English.

When and where does this adaptation take place?  London, circa 1843


Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel?  No.

Is this adaptation supernatural? 
Yes, this adaptation is supernatural, featuring three ghosts and time travel.
 
Is this adaptation "framed"
No.

What original musical numbers and/or dance routines are includedCarolers, Fred, young Scrooge, Belle, Tiny Tim, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and old Scrooge all sing songs I haven't found anywhere else.  The first song, about "holly, pine, and mistletoe," is, in my humble opinion, the best.  I agree with my wife that the others are annoying. 


For some odd reason, a harp, instead of a fiddle, is seen at Mr. Fezziwig's Christmas Ball.

How attractive is the visual art?  The set, wardrobe, architecture, and art are adequate.

How creative and instense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another?
  The transitions are fair, involving mostly cuts and double exposure.

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation?  The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, the absence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come and Fred's Christmas Dinner.  Perhaps the crow is intended to serve as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
 

What extras are included on the DVDThere are no extras or subtitles on the DVD.

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