This is my 4th installment of lesser-known versions of A Christmas Carol. The first one I’m covering this time was produced in Spain in 1947 (and was remade for Spanish television in 1966 ) and the Spanish language title is Leyenda de Navidad ( Legend of Christmas, of course). The film was written and directed by Manuel Tamayo (who wrote the screenplay for the 1955 feature Tarde de Toros) This is a wonderful version for several reasons, not the least of which would be its well-done (for the time period) sets of 1843 London.
We’ll take the differences and similarities to other versions in order – 1. Scrooge has several people working for him for some reason, not just Bob Cratchit and NONE of them get Christmas Day off from this Scrooge … 2. Marley’s Ghost steps out of a life-sized portrait of the man that adorns the wall above a fireplace, and returns to that portrait after his standard warning about the 3 Ghosts … 3. Transportation through time with three very Spanish renditions of the Ghosts is accomplished NOT through cheesy special effects (that may well have broken the budget anyway) but in the very clever way of entering through doorways into other rooms or closets and as each Ghost pulls the door shut behind them, presto, the Ghost and Scrooge are at whatever locale the Spirit is showing him. For variety Scrooge and The Ghost Of Christmas Present arrive down Nephew Fred’s chimney … 4. The Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come is depicted as a grim, unspeaking man in a black top hat and black cape …5. Among the visions of the future that he shows Scrooge is his long-lost love – here called “Mary” for some reason – who is still pining after him …
6. Part of Scrooge’s Christmas Morning conversion is conveyed with the nicely symbolic gesture of having him shave off a beard this incarnation of the miser has been sporting … 7. Scrooge and his long-lost love are reunited … 8. Scrooge’s impractical gesture of sending Bob Cratchit a huge turkey that would take forever to cook is compounded by having this Scrooge send Bob a LIVE turkey. (Ah, the Christmas Day tradition of killing, gutting and plucking the turkey! Now that’s a scene only Currier and Ives could do justice to!) This version runs under an hour and a half and is certainly a nice twist on the familiar story.
I’ll throw in another version that’s a bit better-known than Leyenda de Navidad. It’s called Bah! Humbug! and it was first on PBS in 1994. The odd pair of James Earl Jones and Martin Sheen read aloud from portions of the novelette before a live audience with periodic breaks that feature either MacNeil or Lehrer (I don’t feel like checking right now) providing tid-bits of info on Dickens and his famous Christmas story. This one is so-so and is nowhere near as good as Patrick Stewart’s one-man broadway version of the story that I covered in my opening Christmas Season Divcersion.
For my review of the bizarrely and hilariously bad Christmas movie from 1971 called The Christmas Martian and the 1970’s Canadian educational short called The Energy Carol click here:
For my first three installments of lesser-known versions of A Christmas Carol click the links below: