Saturday, December 11, 2021

The Stingiest Man in Town: Review by William Mortensen Vaughan

 Title(s)The Stingiest Man in Town

AdaptationFeaturing the voices of as Ebenezer Scrooge, and as B.A.H. Humbug

Dates and Places of Earliest Release:  
SAT, 23 DEC 1978 U.S.A.
My Rating****(Recommended)

Format Reviewed
animated film, on DVD
Runtime:  1 hour 
As of December 11, 2021, copies of this film, on VHS, are available, online, for approximately $20 U.S. Dollars.

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

Is this adaptation reverent? 
Yes, it includes a song dedicated to Baby Jesus.

Does this adaptation mention "God" or "Christ"?
Yes (see above).

What does my wife think of
this adaptation?
She likes it, but thinks B.A.H. Humbug is kind of creepy.

Where and when does this adaptation take place?
Victorian England.
What language and/or dialects are used?  
Plain English.

How closely does this adaptation follow the original novel, by Charles Dickens?
This adaptation follows the original novel fairly well.  It is narrated by a tiny man (tinier than Tim) with antennae on his forehead, named B.A.H. Humbug (voice of Tom Bosley).  It shows Scrooge (Walter Matthau) being stingy with Bob Cratchit (Sonny Melendrez), and the coal he uses.  
Fred visits him at his office, and invites him to Christmas Dinner at his house the next day.  In this adaptation, Fred gives Scrooge a bouquet of poinsettias and a giftwrapped necktie.  Scrooge opens the present and angrily throws the tie at Bob.

On Scrooge's way home, B.A.H. Humbug sings about Scrooge being so stingy he uses lightning bugs rather than buying matches from a matchstick girl (borrowed, apparently, from the fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen).

Jacob Marley appears to Scrooge, and shows him other spirits with chains, outside Scrooge's window.

Then the Ghost of Christmas Past appears, as an old man in a white tunic with gold trim, and shows Scrooge Mr. Fezziwig's Christmas Ball, where a younger Scrooge dances with Belle, and then the scene in which Belle breaks off their engagement to be married.  The scenes with Scrooge as a boy in school are skipped.

Then the Ghost of Christmas Present appears in a green robe with white trim, as in the novel.  He shows Scrooge the homes of Bob and Fred.  Tiny Tim asks his big sister, Martha, if there is a Santa Claus.  She sings to him a song about Santa Claus, in which the Ghost of Christmas Present's robe is transformed into a red suit with white trim.  

There is also a song about Baby Jesus.

After Scrooge sings a song about Tiny Tim to the Ghost of Christmas Present, this ghost disappears, and is replaced by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, who shows Scrooge a woman at old Joe's Pawn shop.  She shows Joe items she stole from a dead man, but neither she nor Joe specify which items those are.

Then the Ghost shows Ebenezer his tombstone, which transforms itself into a red demon, as Scrooge promises to change.

Then Scrooge finds himself in his room on Christmas morning, and sends a boy to buy the biggest turkey at the butcher shop, and trusts him to deliver it to Bob Cratchit himself, rather than bringing the poulterer back, and giving the poulterer money for the turkey and a cab.

Then Scrooge goes Christmas shopping, and the boy with the turkey arrives at Bob's with the turkey in his arms, and an entourage of people with presents.  Scrooge has dinner with Fred and his wife, and the people at their Christmas Dinner Party.

The next day, Scrooge catches Bob coming to work late, but raises his pay, and visits him at his house.

Is this adaptation a prequel or a sequel?  

Is this adaptation supernatural? 
Yes, this film features ghosts, time travel, and talking animals.

Is this adaptation "framed"?  
Yes, this adaptation is framed by the narration of B.A.H. Humbug, a bug-sized little man with antennae.

Is this adaptation a musical?  
What songs and/or dances are included?  
Music by Fred Spielman... This adaptation is a musical comedy, including songs by virtually every character, including songs about Santa Claus and Baby Jesus. As stated above, Tiny Tim asks his big sister, Martha, if there is a Santa Claus.  She sings to him a song about Santa Claus, in which the Ghost of Christmas Present's robe is transformed into a red suit with white trim.  

There is also a song about Baby Jesus.

How attractive and effective is the visual art?  
The art is adequate.

How creative and intense are the transitions, especially when "the Scrooge" is taken from one time and/or place to another?
The transitions are entertaining, with scenes of flights over London.
What aerial and/or nap-of-the-earth footage is included?  
(See above.)   
What use is made of background extras?  

What is the most remarkable thing about this adaptation? 
The most remarkable thing about this adaptation is, perhaps, the narration by B.A.H. Humbug, a tiny man with antennae.  It is also unique in that it includes original songs about Scrooge, Baby Jesus, Santa Claus, and Christmas.

What bonus material is included on the tape or DVD? 
My copy of this film on DVD, has optional subtitles in English.  It comes on Disc 1 of 4 in a set titled Classic Christmas Favorites.  
Disc 1 includes Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966), The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold, and Pinocchio's Christmas, as well as The Stingiest Man in Town.  It also includes four featurettes:  "Making Animation and Bringing It to Life," "Dr. Seuss and the Grinch:  From Whoville to Hollywood," "Songs in the Key of Grinch," and a "Making-of Featurette and Pencil Test," as well as an audio commentary with Animator Phil Roman, and the voice of Cindy Lou, June Foray.

Disc 2 includes The Year Without a Santa Claus (Deluxe Edition), Rudolph's Shiny New Year, and Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey.  It also includes two featurettes:  "We Are Santa's Elves," and "Stop Motion 101."

Disc 3 includes Frosty's Winter Wonderland and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Disc 4 includes Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July.

Test your knowledge of this adaptation by taking these quizzes:

Quiz  1 of T.B.D.

Quiz  2 of T.B.D.
Quiz  3 of T.B.D.
Quiz  4 of T.B.D.
Review and quizzes by William Mortensen Vaughan

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