Too many Scrooges…

December 5, 2009 at 3:20 PM (Uncategorized)

“A Christmas Carol” has been adapted so many times for film and tv, one would expect to be sick of it. I’m not.

The key to getting Scrooge right, IMO, is to be able to be believable as an unbelievably tight fisted, bitter cranky guy, and then just as believable as the ‘giddy’ joyful man we see after the spirits’ visitations.

Has anyone seen the new Jim Carrey version?  I’d be interested to hear a take on that.

The 1938 version with Reginald Owen manages this well, even while leaving out some of the more shivery aspects of Scrooges visit with the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.

(Trivia: June Lockhart and her parents costarred as a large part of the Cratchit family.)

Because of my “Star Trek” nuttiness I have a soft spot for Patrick Stewart’s version adapted for TNT some years ago…He has a production company that has done some really great versions of literary adaptation…King Lear as a Western, “King of Texas,” and “Moby Dick.”

But a version I can’t stand:

George C. Scott as Scrooge.

This version gets it two thirds right.

It is the most scrupulously faithful adaptation of the printed text that I’ve seen.

And, certainly, no one is more believable/scarier/meaner/nastier than George C. Scott as the pre-visitation Scrooge.  When he says “Are there no workhouses,” you sense he’d like to follow up with, “Good sirs I will go round up some pathetic poor people for you to send to these worthy places, just so that I may not have to gaze upon their wretched countenances ever again.”

But I just don’t buy his transformative experience.  It’s obvious the actor worked hard to seem jubilant and changed, and mellowed by his experience.  But, George C. Scott simply can’t stop being George C. Scott…and so a loving uncle filled with the Christmas spirit is not his forte.

Bah. Humbug.

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