A Christmas Carol (1951) Review | Movie Review

Beauty and the Best

A Christmas Carol (1951) Review

Everyone has their own traditions around the holidays. One of the ones my family and I share is annually watching Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It's a classic piece of western literature which has been adapted and retold dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of times and we all have our definitive version. Some of you may most enjoy George C. Scott, Patrick SterwartMichael CaineScrooge McDuck or even (God forbid) Jim Carrey in the starring role. In my mind however, there is only one Ebenezer Scrooge and that is Alastair Sim from the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol.

Yes and I am talking about the original called "A Christmas Carol" and not that colorized BS version of the movie renamed "Scrooge". I find the original black and white adds a lot of atmosphere. That was how it was supposed to be seen and that's how I watch it. For those of you who aren't familiar with the story, let me first welcome you to the planet Earth. It's really a nice place in a lot of ways despite what our news broadcasts say. And A Christmas Carol is an 1843 novel about a miserly old businessman named Ebenezer Scrooge who has lost his connection with his fellow men & women and can no longer even enjoy holidays like Christmas.

After working late on Christmas Eve and retiring home for the night, he is met by the ghost his former business partner Jacob Marley. Marley tells him that his selfish and callous deeds will lead Scrooge to eternal torment in the thereafter but that there is still hope. Scrooge would then be visited upon by three more spirits of Christmas who would take him to his past, the present and future in order to show the folly of his ways. In the extremely off chance you haven't experienced the story before, I won't give away what happens next but instead talk about what makes this version so special.

As I touched upon before, this movie has great atmosphere. The old film grain and contrast really works to this film's advantage because frankly 19th century England was a pretty depressing place and it genuinely makes certain scenes frightening.
Michael Hordern as Jacob Marley is terrifying as he wails about how mankind was his business. And that brings me to the performances. The supporting cast ranges from competent to excellent. Tiny Tim seems a little spry for a dying child but others like Bob Cratchet, or Old Joe or Scrooge's business associates all add their own layer of personality to this film.

But it all hinges on the performance of Alastair Sim. He does a wonderful performance that gives the slightest hint that even though he really doesn't like Christmas that he says such over the top things (like how people who celebrate Christmas should be boiled in their own pudding) more-so because it amuses him to annoy them as they have him. He excellently portrays resentment, fear, contrition and glee and you do believe it's all coming form the same character, the same person.

That's why of all the versions to see, this is the one. But most of all, A Christmas Carol is a story of redemption. Afterwards "it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us".  And that's something that all people could learn from every day of the year, not just Christmas. I would most of all recommend reading the original novel but If you haven't seen this 1951 version of A Christmas Carol, do so. It's currently available on DVD or if you leave your television on long enough over the next week or so, it will definitely be on at some point. In any event, have happy holidays from all of us - at All Good Things.

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