This is now my sixth installment of lesser-known versions of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. First up is the 1995 Read-Along Christmas Carol. It’s just 50 minutes long and is ideal for youngsters learning how to read or for the hearing-impaired to watch. The video features a series of still drawings from the Dickens classic accompanied by word-balloons of dialogue appearing over the characters’ heads. This version provides an interesting mix of scenes from the classic story and the format makes a nice change of pace for people like me who have watched literally dozens of versions of the story.
Next, on audio, it may take some looking but the original soundtrack from the 1956 telecast of the musical The Stingiest Man In Town is well worth the search. If you’re only familiar with the 1978 Rankin-Bass cartoon adaptation of this musical you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the expanded versions of some of the songs that the cartoon cuts short. This staged-for-television version was first broadcast on December 23rd, 1956. No video release is planned because the first 2/3 of the video print have been lost so this soundtrack is your best bet. Basil Rathbone (who played Marley’s Ghost in the 1954 musical version of A Christmas Carol shown on Shower of Stars) played Scrooge and does a better job with the songs than Walter Matthau did in the Rankin-Bass cartoon version. He does an especially touching rendition of Mankind Should Be My Business at the end. The one and only Vic Damone plays Young Scrooge, Johnny Desmond is Nephew Fred and The Four Lads are the chorus singers who provide the narration throughout the musical.
Video versions of some filmed stage performances of the story are available as well. To name a few there’s the 1982 version staged by Minnesota’s Guthrie Theater, the American Conservatory Theatre‘s 1981 staging, Ohio Public Television’s 1984 musical stage production and a 1964 black and white stage version first broadcast on New York Public Television containing music by THE Angelo Badalamenti, who went on to such fame with his musical scores for Twin Peaks.
For my previous installments of Lesser- Known Versions Of A Christmas Carol click these links: https://glitternight.com/2010/12/11/christmas-season-diversion-three-opera-versions-of-a-christmas-carol/