Flint (Hoyt Axton) and his lost love (Barbara Mandrell)

Flint (Hoyt Axton) and his lost love (Barbara Mandrell)

Time for another post in my annual orgy of entries on various versions of THE Christmas tale. The Charles Dickens classic has a certain unquenchable charm that ensures it will continue to be adapted for at least another few hundred years.  

SKINFLINT (1979) – Skinflint is known to me and my fellow Carol-Geeks as “the country- western version”. This made-for- tv musical is so chock- full of stars that the Country Music Hall of Fame actually offers screenings of this film every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m serious. My late mother was, unfortunately for me when I was a teenager, a country music fan so, strange as it may seem, I actually know who the singers in this flick are. This version of the Carol is set in fictional Flint City, Tennessee, a town dominated by the financial pull of banker Cyrus Flint, played by Hoyt Axton.

Naturally Cyrus Flint is the Scrooge stand- in and Axton is supported by plenty of other figures cast for their singing ability, not their thespian skill. Stuttering Mel Tillis plays Dennis Pritchett, the Bob Cratchitt character, Lynn Anderson plays his wife and Larry Gatlin (of the Gatlin Brothers and yes, it’s hellish actually knowing things like that) portrays Flint’s nephew, called Roger instead of Fred. Other country singers fill most of the other significant roles, too, with Tom T. Hall as the ghost of Flint’s dead partner Jacob Burley, Barbara Mandrell as Scrooge/Flint’s lost love, Dottie West as his sister, Danny Davis as the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Statler Brothers as the Flint City Four. 

The Tiny Tim stand- in was called “TJ” and was played by a young man named Steven Lutz who never appeared in anything else, before or since. Oddly, Martha Raye portrays a Ghost of Christmas Past whose character seems to have been written for someone more like Minnie Pearl. For trivia buffs, Dave Madden (Reuben Kincaid from The Partridge Family) and Julie Gregg (Sonny Corleone’s wife in The Godfather) have supporting roles. Some reviewers mistakenly dump on the way the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come is portrayed in this telefilm, since he’s played (by David Bond) as a very spooky figure. Those other reviewers, who obviously aren’t B-movie host geeks like I am, don’t see how the figure seems to be a cutesy tribute to Nashville’s own late- night movie hosts of the past like the Phantom of the Opry and others.    

Despite my earlier jokes, I don’t hate country music and I can say that Skinflint is a very enjoyable adaptation of the Carol with a cast of singers who do well enough in the acting portions to make this a nice, charming change of pace for Carol-A- Thon participants.


© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 



87 responses to “CHRISTMAS CAROL-A-THON 2011: SKINFLINT (1979)

  1. I’m a country fan and I never heard of this! Really great! I want to see it now!

  2. I’ve been catching up with your Christmas Carol-a-thon and love it. But then, I can’t imagine Christmas without watching the classic Christmas Carol (or the Muppets one), so of course I like reading about lesser known versions. This country-western version sure sounds interesting…Thanks for sharing, Ed. I’m looking forward to the next instalment 🙂

    • Thank you very much, Didi! I’m with you, I can’t imagine the Christmas season without A Christmas Carol. I forgot we weren’t following each others’ blogs yet last December so this is your first Carol-A-Thon with me!

  3. This sounds interesting. I really love the title of this movie – it cracks me up.

  4. Woman

    Yup. Decided my first comment back on your blog would be in reply to this post. All because you used the word, “orgy”.

    But I do so love “A Christmas Carol”!!! It’s not Christmas unless I watch at least three versions of it. I tried to search for “Skinflint” on my downloading program, but I couldn’t find it!

    You used the word orgy, and the movie’s name is “Skinflint”… I have to download!!!!

    PS- I have missed your blog!!!!!!!

  5. LOL! You are always so funny, G!

    I’m not surprised you couldn’t find it. You know how obscure the things I write about are.

    I missed you and your blog, too! Thanks!

    • Woman

      YAY!!!! But you might want to check back in some of the posts from the past month. I’ve been adding pictures…they are quite…er…. um…. revealing??? I show quite a lot skin this time of year!!!!

      And you? Obscure??? Talk about Siamese twins!!!!

      • Wow, I’ll definitely check the pictures out and I haven’t forgotten about the story elements we discussed. I apologize about how busy I’ve been and that I haven’t returned it to you yet. I will do it ASAP.

        And yeah, we both go in for really obscure stuff AND we’re both Monty Python Fans AND we both love A Christmas Carol!

      • Woman

        LOL!!!! Darling you are a riot!!! I meant that you and obscure are Siamese twins!!! But I shall take your words as a compliment!!!

      • Great! That’s how they were intended!

  6. Really great! Never heard of this and I thought I saw every version of A Christmas Carol.

  7. I’m a Hoyt Axton fan and I had no idea he was in this. Thanks!

  8. Ted

    I thought I was the only one who remembered the Phantom of the Opry! You da man!

  9. Not a country fan, but this sounds like it would go grat in the holiday season!

  10. I need to see this version now! Next year you should review 1 version a day between Thanksgiving and Christmas day.

    • Thanks. I’ll try, but the football playoffs in the divisions of college football I cover are going on at that same time of year, so I get stretched pretty thin.

  11. You make all these versions seem so much fun but it’s frustrating cause I can’t find them anywhere.

  12. I am a huge Barbara Mandrell fan so I will not rest until I find this!

  13. Re: Steven Lutz (TJ), I can say with some authority that he went on to do a smattering of commercials for, among others, McDonald’s and Mattel (including a somewhat well-known He-Man ad alongside a young Kirk Cameron). I can say that because I am he (or he is me… whatever).

    Really enjoyed the review, and I’m glad there are people out there who still remember this goofy-ass show. I have a fairly decent VHS copy that I’ve long thought about converting and posting to YouTube, but haven’t because the work involved would likely be rewarded with a near-instant copyright takedown. Perhaps this review will inspire me to finally do it anyway.

    Extreeeeeme Trivia: If you ever get the chance to watch this again, listen carefully right at the start of the final scene (Christmas dinner at Flint’s nephew’s). Amongst the other ad-libbing, you’ll hear a chipmunk-like voice announce, “Hey, I think there’s a booger in my fruit cocktail!” To this day, one of my proudest moments.

    • Thank you very much for commenting! Is the He-Man commercial with you and Kirk up on Youtube?

      Glad you liked the review! I know what you mean about Youtube. When I find something I want to watch on there I do it as soon as possible in case it gets taken down.

      LMAO! I’ll listen for that part next time I watch this. Hey, who WOULDN’T be proud of that?

      • Alas, the Kirk Cameron He-Man commercial is nowhere to be found on YouTube (though it did appear briefly on the True Hollywood Story episode on Growing Pains — another proud moment!) Another He-Man ad I did a year or two later featuring Webstor is out there, though.

        If I ever get around to putting Skinflint online, I’ll be sure to drop you a note.

      • That would be great! Thanks!

    • Hey Steve. I hope you’re able to see this. I was born in 1973. When the country Christmas carol was aired I had to go to bed so my dad recorded it to VHS. It has been a family tradition to watch it every uear since and I didn’t realize until I was grown how obscure so I feel privileged. :). My husband is the one who posted it to YouTube. It had a horrible old VHS hiss but he has now remastered it and reposted.

  14. You are so cool! You have more versions of a Christmas Carol than anybody else on the web!

  15. Well, it wasn’t me, but *somebody* recently posted this long lost bit of Christmas history to YouTube.

  16. Jim

    Wild shit! How many Christmas Carol stories do u own?

  17. I love A Christmas Carol!

  18. Funny but informative review. I watched it on Youtube based off your review.

  19. CHRISTMAS CAROL-A-THON 2011: SKINFLINT (1979) | Balladeer’s Blog

  20. DeeVah

    So, I have a friend who told me last year how much he loves this movie and I have tried to find him a copy of it ever since. How/where can I purchase or download it for him? This would make Santa VERY happy!! 🙂

    • Hello! There is a version up on youtube right now. Here is the link. It still doesn’t seem to be available on DVD yet, but the Country Music Hall of Fame still screens it every year during the holiday season.

      • DeeVah

        They do it every year?? I saw where they had screened it last year, but it was after I knew he was such a fan. I’m only 2 hours from N’ville…it would be worth the drive! But, I’d like for him to have his own copy. Thanks for the YouTube link!

      • You’re welcome! If I find out it has become available on DVD or streaming I will post a notice here on this comment thread.

  21. I really enjoyed watching this on youtube! Thanks for this review!

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  30. Kai

    So obscure but it sounds fun.

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  33. mat

    I love A Christmas Carol too!

  34. I like these Christmas Carol reviews!

  35. Wes Shadle

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  36. Kathleen Kennedy


  37. Maggie

    I so don’t like country music but this sounds like fun for Christmas!

  38. Rudy

    This version is tough to get through but it’s fun.

  39. Lera

    Sounds like a great Christmas Carol movie.

  40. Amelia

    I love every version of A Christmas carol.

  41. Joy

    I loved this review!