TIme for a few more under-the-radar versions of A Christmas Carol. First off is the 1970 version that was first televised on Christmas Day on England’s Anglia Television. Paul Honeyman (who also produced) narrates, or rather, reads aloud from his personally edited version of the Dickens classic while all we see on-screen are a series of beautiful watercolor paintings by John Worsley depicting scenes from the story to match the narration. This version is 58 minutes long and is a nice change of pace for Carol-A-Thon people like me.
Next would be the Australian cartoon version of A Christmas Carol first broadcast there in 1969. (There was also an Australian cartoon version done in the 1980’s but I’ll cover that one some other time) This one features a scene of Scrooge at Marley’s funeral and its depiction of Marley’s Ghost is especially inventive: his head appears as a blazing fire with visible facial features. The overall effect is like his head is a candle’s flame. I know some purists may say that effect should have been saved for The Ghost Of Christmas Past but what the heck? There’s one odd but very short song and overall this one is fun but far from classic. It clocks in at 46 minutes so what’s the harm?
And now I’ll throw in one to avoid: Scrooge’s Rock And Roll Christmas from 1983. It’s not really an adaptation of A Christmas Carol, it’s just a kid (who thinks she’s in a record store for some reason) teaching Scrooge (played by Jack Elam) about “the spirit of rock” by showing him a series of taped music videos with old-timers (even back then) like Three Dog Night, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Association, Mike Love from the Beach Boys, Dean Torrence from Jan And Dean and many others singing songs like Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree, Jingle Bell Rock, etc. Most of these videos are frequently available for enjoyment on Youtube (off and on of course, as uploaders and Youtube play the “copyright violation” game) and they’re the only parts of this version worth watching.
4 responses to “CHRISTMAS SEASON DIVERSION: A FEW MORE LESSER KNOWN VERSIONS OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL”
Nice to hear that someone else knows of my 2 very favourite animated versions! The 1969 was made by Air Programs International and was the first in a series of many famous tales (Robin Hood, Moby Dick, Treasure Island and Journey to the Centre of the Earth to name but a few would follow). This version was often shown on UK TV until the early-mid 80s, and was amongst many cartoons brought out for rental by VCL in the early VHS days.
It featured also the voice of noted British character actor Bruce Montaue (Butterflies) who played Marley, Christmas Present, and one of the charity collectors to name but a few.
The background sketches are lovely in this version, almost surreal at times, and really have a sense of nostalgia about them. My only gripe is that 45 mins meant a lot of things were left out or unresolved (such as Scrooge’s nephew and the charity men), although the opening scenes, Marley’s Ghost and Christmas Future are quite satisfyingly complete.
I know of the other Austalian version you mean. That’s quite a complete version, and, interestingly, Ron Haddrick who voiced Scrooge in this version, also voices him in that, although slightly differently.
Anglia TV’s is also a gem – really atmospheric, with an unusual glow of warmth about it. I love the narration and music and especially the drawings. There is a large novelisation of A Christmas Carol that uses John Worsley’s drawings, and though it doesn’t feature all used in the TV version, there are many featured that were not used, particularly during the Christmas Present chapter.
Again this was available from Guild in the early 80s on VHS, and re-released by Laserlight in the late 90s. Only downside to the re-release, is that the original Anglia Knight and fanfare are replaced by the modern static Anglia logo, taking away some of the authenticity.
Wonder if either will make it to the TVs again? Sadly, both may be asking a lot of today’s hard-to-please audience.
Thank you very much for the detailed reply! I know what you mean about all of these possibly never seeing air time again, especially the three opera versions, which is a real shame! I have dozens more obscure versions I’ll be doing, possibly not til next Christmas at this rate.
I don’t know what planet you find these things on but don’t stop.
Thanks! I won’t !