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"

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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