Scrooge (1951, Brian Desmond Hurst)

An improvement on the poop-joke semi-improv version of A Christmas Carol (co-starring Jesus Christ) that we’d just watched at a local theater. This is kind of a weird adaptation, in that it adds new scenes that didn’t appear in the novel, as if we wouldn’t notice. Most of them are in the Christmas Past segment: Scrooge and Marley taking over Fezziwig’s company, Marley’s death and some stuff involving Scrooge’s sister and girlfriend.

Any Christmas Carol adaptation hinges on the performance of Scrooge, and Alastair Sim (of The Ruling Class, ugh) was such a great one that I’m figuring it’s the main reason this is considered to be the best film version of the story. It wasn’t the additional scenes or any showy camerawork (except the introduction of Christmas Future – that was pretty great) or special effects. But a very satisfying movie overall.

Alastair Sim and housekeeper on Christmas morning:

Director Hurst worked on Korda’s The Lion Has Wings (but not Thief of Bagdad) and screenwriter Noel Langley had been the principal writer on The Wizard of Oz. Mervyn Johns (The Sundowners, Day of the Triffids) was solid as Bob Cratchit and Michael Hordern was unassuming as Jacob Marley in flashback, but he was howlingly flamboyant as Marley’s ghost (later, Hordern was more appropriately cast in comedies, like Yellowbeard and The Bed Sitting Room).

Michael Hordern as the ghost: